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What Mac and Cheese Can Teach You About Business

Don't bury your benefits -- show off what you have to offer.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When my (now adult) kids were little, they loved their pasta. I mean, really, who doesn’t? But my kids were obsessed, and I’m to blame, because I love pasta too. I mean, really, who doesn’t? They would take their pasta in any form, but they especially loved macaroni and cheese.

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But, like any good dads trying to give healthy food to their kids, we would always accompany their mac and cheese with some sort of vegetable. If you’re a parent, then you know the drill: The pasta gets eaten way before any vegetable of any kind, and then the kids claim they're too full. 

Truth be told, I was not the cook of the family. That was my (now) husband. He is an amazing cook and a clever man, so he would scheme of ways to get the kids to eat their vegetables first -- or, at least, to get them to eat their vegetables along with the rest of the meal.

For example, he would mix pureed squash right into the mac and cheese sauce so the kids didn’t notice they were eating vegetables. He was hiding the benefits of good, healthy food for the good of the kids.

But, don’t try this at work. That is, you shouldn't hide the benefits of your organization the way we hid vegetables in our mac and cheese. Don’t cover up the reasons that make your brand so enticing for customers and employees alike. Here are some things you should do to make sure your clients and customers know everything you bring to the table.

1. Communicate clearly to your customers.

Don't bury the lede. Disseminate information simply and cleanly so it’s easy to understand. They’re more likely to grasp what your brand offers if you do it in a relatable way. Show how you are superior to your competitors.

Make sure you include emotional benefits too. Don’t just communicate what you do -- show how you make your customers feel too! Show them how you will make their lives better! 

2. Do the same with your employees.

Make sure your employees understand all of the benefits you offer. I don't mean the obvious healthcare programs and paid time off ... that’s the easy stuff that every employer offers! Show them that your organization is a great place to work because you care about their entire life, not just what they can accomplish at work. And while it’s important for your employees to hear directly from you, it’s also wise to use team testimonials that can objectively speak on your behalf. It’s often more credible that way. 

3. Prove how you give back.

Giving back to the communities we serve is an integral part of marketing and corporate responsibility now. It’s a requirement for doing business. Then, speak up about it! Gone are the days where we would be humble about it and keep quiet. Describe your efforts to make this world a better place for all involved, including your customers and your employees. Take credit for what you do that goes beyond a profit motive. Your constituents want to hear about it, and they likely want to contribute to it as well. 

4. Be visible.

As a leader in the organization, don’t hide behind your desk and your emails. Walk around and talk to people. Share your thoughts via regular employee communications. Start a blog or do podcasts to update your team on where the organization is going.

Speak directly to your customers, too. Talk about how you work to improve their lives, not just your own. Be visible, be accountable and be human. Don’t hide your personality behind a lot of corporate jargon ... let everyone get to know the real you!

5. Dig in and enjoy!

Yes, leading an organization, brand or team takes a lot of effort. But, don’t forget to laugh and enjoy it along with way. It’s a simple fact that teams who have fun will do better work. An organization with a sense of (appropriate) humor will get more business. Be the kind of team that people want to join, and they’ll tell others to join in too. And if your customers are happy, they’ll tell others to join in as well. We have plenty of proof of that. 

Unlike my favorite mac and cheese with squash, you shouldn't hide the benefits of your business. Put them front and center.

Some food for thought.

Jim Joseph

Written By

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.