Turducken With a Side of Trust

Turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s the most traditional, trusted meal of the year. What could convince me to entrust this sacred meal to a little-known direct marketer’s website? Here’s the story of Dr. Strangebird: How Cajun Grocer got me to stop worrying and trust the turducken.

Turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s the most traditional, trusted meal of the year. What could convince me to entrust this sacred meal to a little-known direct marketer’s website? Here’s the story of Dr. Strangebird: How Cajun Grocer got me to stop worrying and trust the turducken.

It was no small feet to get me to do it. Our first chance to host the family Thanksgiving came in 2011. My mom and her brother had swapped hosting the holiday for my entire life. This was the first time my mom tapped out and asked my wife and me to host.

It was a big deal. I’m not someone who plays things too traditional, so my first thought was “Ooh! We can get one of those turduckens John Madden is always talking about!”

Hold on, that’s not John Madden talking about turducken. This is John Madden talking about Turducken. (The fact that I can find roughly 2 million videos of Frank Caliendo making fun of John Madden, and not one of the nationally televised event he’s spoofing, tells you half of what you need to know about the Internet.)

So a turducken is a deboned chicken, stuffed inside a deboned duck, stuffed inside a deboned turkey, and there’s Cajun cornbread and sausage stuffing between all those layers. It’s like a big, delicious, flavor-filled meat roll.

Turducken: It's Like Meat Inception.
Or like “Meat Inception,” if you prefer.

When I tried to find a turducken, I was out of luck — I had no idea where to get one of those in Levittown (we live in the one outside Philadelphia). Then I looked online, and there was this site, Cajun Grocer, that promised to sell me an authentic Cajun turducken, shipped up from Louisiana in a Styrofoam box packed with dry ice. …

I don’t know how that plan would sound to you hosting your first big family Thanksgiving, but you could say I was skeptical.

SkepticalDog
My online shopping mascot.

So what did Cajun Grocer do to convince me to trust them with our Thanksgiving?

1.They Dealt Openly With the Questions
This is classic catalog-style direct marketing. Cajun Grocer clearly realizes that trust is one of its biggest hurdles. It’s a niche company operating via direct order, and the website isn’t exactly the height of sophistication (although it’s a lot better today than it was in 2011). They need to convince visitors that the company is both honest and competent enough to get the order there by Thanksgiving, still frozen.

So Cajun Grocer spends a lot of space on its website describing who they are, how they handle your turducken, shipping methods, EXACTLY when you should order to get it by Thanksgiving, and more. The dedicated Turducken landing page is essentially a point-by-point take down of your buying objections.

2. Social and Media Proof
There are no less than 10 seals on the Cajun Grocer homepage showing me it’s a website I can trust. They have a graphic and link for an article where their turducken was voted best overall value in The Wallstreet Journal.

Cajun Grocer's Turducken Featured Image
It’s even got a blue ribbon!

They also have a video segment from Good Morning America about ordering your Thanksgiving turkey online. Not only does the video include the Cajun Grocer turducken being shown on good Morning America, but the guest specifically says that, yes, you can buy a turducken online and it will be delicious.

In addition, Cajun Grocer links to over 4,000 Bizrate reviews on Google, the vast majority of which give it five stars. That’s a good way to show me they’re not stuffing their own review box.

3. Content Proves Competence
Interestingly, Cajun Grocer does not try to convince me it’s a mom and pop chasing their life-long dreams. There’s no owner shown on the site. And you know, if that’s not part of your DNA, I appreciate not pretending it is. There’s nothing wrong with just being a good merchant and showing me you care about your products and service. Professionalism earns trust too.

But Cajun Grocer still provides a lot of content to show they know Cajun cooking. There are recipes, the 1-888-Crawfish helpline, and special sections for a lot of well-known Cajun dishes (at least well-known to a Yankee like me). And beyond that, they have a blog from Marcelle Bienvenu, “The Queen of Cajun Cooking” exploring more Cajun recipes.

You come away from the website convinced of two things: This is a real Louisiana Cajun food shop, and they know exactly how to get you a turkey/duck/chicken thing by Thanksgiving.

And I have trusted them to do that twice now. The first time was culinary fireworks. The second turducken is thawing now to be the star of our meal tomorrow.

The Turducken has Landed
The turducken has landed! Perfectly frozen and in time for Thanksgiving.

IMV15 Panel: Master Marketing Technology in Service to Customers

Technology should empower the marketing organization to better serve customers, but many times, we find that the organization is mastered by the technology. Decisions are made not because they are good for the customer, but because they are possible in the existing tools.

Technology should empower the marketing organization to better serve customers, but many times, we find that the organization is mastered by the technology. Decisions are made not because they are good for the customer, but because they are possible in the existing tools.

Getting out in front of this potential rut was the focus of a great discussion I was humbled to join for the closing session of IMV 2015, a virtual conference put on by Target Marketing earlier this month. (Free access to the archive is available with registration through September 2015.)

The key, I said in the session, is to think of technology as being less about pure systems and more about PEOPLE. Technology is about utility and purpose — and that has to factor in the needs and abilities of the people who use it, the people who are reached by it, the people who are interacting with it. Really, technology is only there to enable marketing at a personal level.

Most marketers do not have a technology problem. They have more technology than they can use well. Instead, most of us have a training, integration, process, poorly aligned strategy, competing goals problem. Automation of a bad strategy only gets you to the FAIL faster, and does nothing to improve your customer experience or level of connection.

Moderator Thorin McGee, editor-in-chief of Target Marketing, said it well in his intro, “Technology is essential to modern marketing, but gaining control of it is something many marketers have not yet mastered. The question is how to take advantage of technology without having it take over your marketing world?”

In evaluating a new technology, it’s important to consider both the utility of the existing stack and investments, in addition to the future objectives, said fellow panelist Adam Bravo, executive director of loyalty marketing for MGM International. “Ask if your business has the capacity to adopt a new technology, and if your organization has the capacity to change what you are doing,” he recommends.

“Some new things sound great and are sold well, but if you don’t have the infrastructure from IT or a team who is willing to adapt to new processes and adopt the tools, the investment will not pay off,” he said. Truly, I’ve seen marketing organizations invest in technologies because they have a person on staff now who has the experience to manage it well, but then that person leaves or gets promoted and the rest of the organization is stuck with something that is outside the company’s capacity to master.

It can be daunting. The number of technologies available for marketing are impressive. Panelist Mitch Rose, SVP of marketing for BillTrust says: “You have to be nimble, because what you envision now could be obsolete in a year. Our planning and technology investment is fluid. I recommend everyone try to get approval for some ‘skunk works’ fund, so you can test some things in a pilot. Plan for that – set aside a modest budget and team.”

This is especially good advice in a world where a five-year vision is not unusual for an enterprise marketing organization, but a five-month go-to-market roadmap is life or death for a mid-tier organization. Technology investments must be strategic and should never be taken lightly, but you can be nimble at the tactical level by doing pilots with point solutions, porting data manually from one system to another in a proof of concept, or working with key vendors to test their new functionality in a hosted solution. It takes a level of creativity and curiosity to be a successful marketing technologist.

“The traditional marketing role is dying,” Adam said. “Today, those of us who embrace technology and customer experience, and who aim to understand the customer through analytics, can drive a lot of optimization. It forces the need for a marketing leader who can be close to IT and embrace data analytics.”

This requires marketers to think outside of the traditional functional box. “We have 40,000 hotel rooms, just about as many gaming stations,” Adam said. “Those things are in the budget of hotel operations. However, as a marketing person, I want to capture all the data on our guests’ experience, what type of machine they play, where they eat, how they check in, what sort of room do they upgrade to, etc.

“I’m not the owner of that data, but I want to use it in my marketing operations to improve the customer experience and drive loyalty.”

Collaboration with other departments is essential to success today. It’s sometimes more important for marketers to partner with other departments – sales, IT, customer service, product, operations – than to OWN everything directly. Customer touchpoints and insights are found throughout the organization, and smart marketers focus on empowering consistent and aligned experiences across the entire branded landscape. Marketers have to get used to not owning every media channel, not owning every database, not controlling every message. However, marketers must do the work of setting clear, aligned and actionable messaging, tools and analytics across the entire organization. Technology can be a big part of that, but not all the technology needs to be in the marketing department.

However, marketing organizations can be first movers in technology investments. “Marketing is increasingly approved to invest in technology because we generate revenue from it,” Mitch said. “By our nature we are curious beasts, we are trained to be strategic, and so we are interested in new technologies and want to test them toward a strategic goal.”

Take a minute to listen to the entire panel discussion for richer commentary on these points. Thanks to Adam, Mitch and Thorin for including me!

Meanwhile, how are you setting up your marketing technology to serve the needs of your customers? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.