Direct mail can affect you in a lot of ways. It can make you happy, angry, inspired or sad … but can it make you hungry? It can when it includes food recipes, even when one of them turns out to be for borscht.
A few weeks ago, Ashley Roberts of Printing Impressions (a sister brand of Target Marketing) asked me to appear in a video with her to profile a mailing that Agfa Graphics sent to its VIP file. The beautiful food photography of the calendar and its accompanying cookbook was enhanced by augmented reality. You can read and see all about it here.
It got me thinking about other companies that have used recipes as an important ingredient in their marketing mix. Here are some ideas, based on mail found in Who’s Mailing What!, on how to entice customers with food content.
1. Demonstrate Your Product
This is almost too obvious: if food is your product, it certainly can’t hurt to help to offer a demonstration of how it can be prepared or used in a meal. For instance, supermarkets or packaged goods marketers can tie a recipe to a food that’s part of a sales promotion, special offer, or coupon.
Penzeys Spices sells high-quality spices for the home chef, from cinnamon and lemon peel to extracts and chili peppers. It has a chain of brick-and-mortar stores, an e-commerce website, and a direct mail catalog, all of which rely on recipes.
Here’s an example. This partial page from a Penzeys catalog describes saffron’s properties, the varieties that are available, and their pricing. The recipe that’s shown is so simple to follow that even I can master it.
When combined with numerous sidebar pieces and long-form articles in each issue of the catalog, this tactic bolsters the authenticity of Penzeys’ brand.
2. Reinforce Your Mission
Clever organizations have leveraged recipes for the right types of foods that are in keeping with their goals. Lots of health systems and hospitals mail newsletters and magazines that are chock-full of juicy content, like tips on exercise and disease prevention, as part of creating a more healthy lifestyle. To encourage healthier eating of one kind or another — low salt, low sugar, etc. — recipes are provided.
National Osteoporosis Foundation focuses on bone health and improving screening and other preventative measures in its fundraising campaigns. To supplement those efforts, and to support the group’s expertise, a recent appeal included two recipe cards and highlighted the calcium amount for each food.
3. Support Your Product
Recipes have long been used to tease printed products — like magazines, cookbooks, diet plans, and recipe cards — that focus on food. But what if the product isn’t print?
Images throughout the brochure show food in different holiday settings, as well as the channel’s programs and personalities.
And the next-to-last page? Two “tasty holiday recipes,” with pictures, for “Really Onion Dip” and “Butter-and-Jam Thumbprints.” Yum.
4. Reward Your Customers
As the forward to the cookbook shown below notes, “food and travel are inextricably connected.” It was mailed to past customers who had traveled with Grand Circle, a tour operator. There’s no promotion for any upcoming trips, just a request for feedback on the cookbook itself.
The book’s 48 pages are designed to “inspire a culinary journey at your table,” with recipes covering dishes from a variety of Mediterranean destinations. With its high-gloss coated stock and spiral binding, it’s the perfect thing to sit on a kitchen counter as the traveler cooks and dreams of their next trip with the company, and the food they’ll eat along the way.
The one big takeaway to using recipes in mail is that it’s really not all that different than cooking itself. It’s a tactic that should be carefully measured out in just the right amounts to achieve the desired outcome, and not overwhelm the senses, or the tastes, of the customer.