Every year we read about the “Next Big Startup.” Small businesses can learn a few things from these marquee ventures. One such startup is Blue Apron. This company is the first post-social-media-retro-dot-com startup to hit the billion dollar valuation. Blue Apron isn’t really a technology company. It’s a food service company with a highly integrated website.
Never heard of Blue Apron? Blue Apron is an Internet-based subscription-model service that delivers over 1 million ready-to-cook meals each day to consumers across the United States. It’s akin to Meals-on-Wheels, but for foodies and the patrons pay for their meals. Founded in 2012, this company was recently valued at $2 billion.
How did Blue Apron do it? Of course it’s about their product, their team and how they executed the business plan. However, it’s also about the marketing efforts that rocketed the organization. We, as business owners, can learn a thing or two from Blue Apron’s successful marketing techniques. The following are three methods that worked well for them and may work well for your business…
Teach Customers About Your Product or Company
When you tell your company story and there’s something to learn, clients will connect with what they’ve heard. From there, customers will re-purpose that narrative when they chat with their friends about your company. If you don’t initiate the narrative, customers will only relay generic information about your business. A great way to unfold a company story is through a website video, supported by written content.
Blue Apron has a relentless number of “cinematic quality” videos peppered throughout their website. Note: I highly recommend against Google ads on YouTube. It distracts the viewer from the message; and, a certain percentage of viewers will leave once the ad appears. I’m unsure why Blue Apron has such ads on their videos. Nevertheless, here’s a sample of an excellent Blue Apron video.
Don’t be afraid to give credit to others that support your organization. Partners, employees and suppliers have all contributed to the success of the business. Publicly thanking them will not only build goodwill with those you thank, but will also demonstrate credibility and produce trust with first-time customers. Blue Apron has a dedicated section on their website to spotlight their suppliers.
Make it Easy for Customers to Market Your Products
Undertaking a marketing campaign to acquire first-time customers is an expensive endeavor. However, marketing to existing clients and marketing through ‘word-of-mouth’ is always the most economical way to build a business. One drawback of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing is that it takes a long time, and it’s also difficult to build a marketing campaign around it.
Blue Apron has cracked the code on ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing and they’re able to leverage person-to-person buzz into serious revenue. The brilliance of Blue Apron’s word of mouth marketing strategy is in its simplicity. Here’s how they do it… Blue Apron allows each customer to give a free one-week trial subscription to three friends. If their friend likes the Blue Apron service, they can sign up for the full subscription. Too easy. This is one marketing technique that’s straight-forward. It’s easy to understand; and in many ways, it’s child’s play to carry out.
Applying These Marketing Lessons
Of course, not all the Blue Apron marketing tactics are directly transferable to every business. However, Blue Apron’s efforts shows that even a food manufacturer with a nice website can achieve success through unorthodox marketing. Bon Appetite!