A lot of people worry about giving away valuable business secrets in their content marketing when they produce How-To posts or videos.

But as the experience of McDonald’s restaurants shows, even giving away your “secret” recipe can be a smart marketing move.

In a YouTube video, the “Executive Chef” from McDonald’s Canada responds to a customer’s question about the ingredients of its secret sauce by demonstrating how to make a Big Mac from start to finish.

At first glimpse, this looks like a crazy move – why would you tell your customers how to make your product at home?

But I bet that no one who watched that video actually decided they’d rather stay at home and cook their own burger than go to McDonald’s. And if they did have a go at making their own Big Mac as a fun experiment, McDonald’s still comes out ahead, because their customers are talking about Big Macs and thinking about Big Macs, and ultimately discovering that McDonald’s can make much nicer ones than they can. (Even chef Dan Coudreaut’s homemade effort looks a bit wonky.)

McDonald’s wins from this video because it demonstrates several things about its products in an engaging way: they uses real, fresh food; they don’t put in preservatives or additives (OK, we won’t mention the cheese or the mayonnaise); and they have robust hygiene procedures.

They can make the video with confidence because they understand why their customers come to them. They don’t eat McDonald’s food because they don’t have the recipe. They go there because it’s more convenient than cooking at home, it’s a cheap night out and McDonald’s makes McDonald’s hamburgers better than anyone else.

What it means for your business

Don’t be afraid to publish How-To content. Think about why your customers come to you – it’s probably not just because you know how to do or make something.

Ideally, they’re also engaging your services or buying your products because you do what you do well, you have experience, they trust you, it’s easier for them to get you to do it than to do it themselves, and you’ll do a better job than they could.

Think of personal income tax returns. We can all fill out the forms ourselves and follow the Australian Tax Office’s online guides, but most of us choose an accountant because it’s easier and hopefully they’ll get us a bigger tax return.

Publishing How-To content is a good way of demonstrating this. You can show off your expertise, the care you take in your work, and how your experience pays off in getting a better result.

And you’ll end up with customers who not only perceive your business as expert and capable, they’ll also have a better understanding of your business, which can only make the sales job easier.