Marketing’s Weekly Dose of the Truth

Ken Magill

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Weber Hits, Then Whiffs


By Ken Magill

While checking my email recently, the content of one of the messages caused me to make a sort of guttural "mmMMMmm" noise.

"Weber?" said my wife, who happened to be standing by.

"Yeah," I said. "How’d you know?"

"You made a Weber noise," she said.

Indeed, I had made a Weber noise. It was in response to an emailed recipe for rib eye steaks with chipotle butter.

Weber-Stephens Products has been sending me a recipe every Friday for several years now ever since I bought a refurbishing kit for a Weber Genesis grill. There are two important points to be made here: 1) Weber’s recipe-of-the-week email is one of my favorites, if not my favorite. 2) I never gave Weber permission to send me email.

So in this case, relevancy certainly did trump permission. I make easily half the recipes Weber sends me. My wife and I are big-time cooks. We consider making the same meal twice akin to going to the same restaurant twice in New York City. Why do the same meal/restaurant twice when the alternatives are so wonderfully endless?

Admittedly, we do have a couple of family favorites, Mozambique fire shrimp with Pili Pili sauce over Aunt Rhoda’s dirty rice from Rick Browne’s ‘Grilling America’ being one.

In any case, the Weber recipe-of-the-week email is also perfectly timed. It arrives every Friday afternoon right when the wife and I are starting to think about what to cook during the weekend.

All good, right?

Well, not really.

After receiving Weber’s weekly emails for something like three years now, I have made no new purchases as a result. My Weber recency-and-frequency stats are a direct marketer’s nightmare.

And I buy grill gadgets all the time whether I need them or not. The recipe-of-the-week email is the perfect setting for enticing me to buy the newest meat flipper, grill cleaner or seafood searer. But no, Weber avoids the weekly cross-sell for whatever reason.

And what is more, when Weber did pitch me in an email—the one I can remember, anyway—the pitch was off target.

With my purchase of a refurbishing kit, Weber knows three things about me: I have a high-end gas grill, I have used the crap out of it, and I intend to use the crap out of it some more.

So when they finally get around to pitching me, what do they offer? Deals on products to enhance my 22-inch charcoal grill: a grill I don’t own. And what I do own is easily discernable by what is in Weber’s database.

A horrendous marketing mistake? Certainly not. But it is a shame to think of all the selling opportunities lost as a result of failing to pitch in those Friday recipe emails and failing to do some simple segmentation when they do decide it’s time to pitch.

Author’s note: For those who are curious, here is a link to the rib eye steak recipe. It has everything I look for: fat, heat and meat.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Neil Schwartzman
Date: 2011-02-03 13:56:38
Subject: Weber ... Mmmmmm

I've got their 'On The Grill' iPad app. AND a 22" charcoal grill. Send me the recipe!