Home Chef: "Make Dinner Happen" and "How-To's" (One Sorta Fail and One Success)
A LITTLE BACKSTORY
I was Home Chef's Content Manager for about two years, before going off on my own to freelance (and then move to Berlin). A little backstory: Home Chef's initial branding was not cute -- dare I say, Home Chef had no brand. This meal kit company was operationally solid, but never put any thought into branding and voice until just before they hired me.
Six months into working with Home Chef, I worked with our Design Director, our CRO, and the agency whose bid won our votes on a brand new brand. I was incredibly happy with our new look and feel, but implementing the new brand company-wide proved challenging: getting the word out to our ever-changing team of food stylists, chefs and recipe developers, support staff, design team, operations managers, etc. seemed impossible and the content team (my assistant and I, and our CRO) had a lot of trouble getting buy-in from the rest of the company to make sure our branding efforts were not for naught. We consistently had a big budget, though, and were backed by investors who knew the importance of branding.
All this to say, as a well-funded startup that grew very, very quickly, we were always trying new platforms and methods without really giving them a chance to be impactful. Our tiny content team did well enough in a vacuum, but when it came time to make things happen company-wide, we had no support.
MAKE DINNER HAPPEN
Ironically, our second TV commercial was called "Make Things Happen... Make Dinner Happen". We worked with another agency (I facilitated the same RFP process as in our branding agency selection), and filmed a TV commercial I initially really loved. It lives here: https://www.ispot.tv/ad/Aiuh/home-chef-making-things-happen
Eager to present a cohesive Home Chef to the world, I programmed our entire social calendar (Instagram, FB, and Twitter) and blog around the theme "Make Dinner Happen". We used stills from the commercial on social, interviewed members of The Mom Project about how they make things happen, ran social giveaways wherein we partnered with other companies who promised to make your life easier (Le Tote, Cuisinart...). Our sales steadily grew, yes -- but our social engagement was low, our team members tracking TV analytics had a really hard time measuring impact, and, in short, viewers didn't care that we were excited about our commercial and our new brand. They didn't want to see lifestyle shots of models (see failed post, left). They wanted to learn how to be better Home Chefs.
Knowing this, here's where we found some success.
We started to focus less on the "You're so busy and stressed!" angle. I found that our customers not only didn't want to hear about how little time they had -- it was sort of none of our business. So I shifted my team's focus to education. I hired a videographer to make us a series of short how-to videos based on the cooking techniques and ingredients our recipes relied on most. We published these How-To videos across the blog and all social channels, and they even had somewhat of a viral effect (like those Tasty videos that everyone loves, with better production value.) We had higher engagement across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we put serious ad spend behind some of these videos on Facebook, Outbrain, and Taboola. They were performing because people were learning something, and we zoned in on how to simplify their lives without pointing out that their lives were chaotic to begin with.
To me, the success or lack thereof in regards to these two campaigns comes down to objective and clarity: with the "Make Dinner Happen" campaign, our only real objective besides subscription sales was brand cohesion, as we felt our customers wanted a unified brand. Turns out, that wasn't enough, so with the "How-To" campaign, we sought to educate and make our product more accessible in addition to driving sales. As Content Manager, I led both campaigns, and I worked with agencies, freelance videographers, our in-house marketing, design and photography teams, our tech/developer/product teams, and customer support, who dealt with customer questions on the frontlines. I also used Salesforce to sync all of our social channels with email and sales channels.
I will say, my biggest challenge while working with Home Chef was motivating our team. Home Chef employees were not excited about the Home Chef brand at the outset - our initial efforts were click-baity-y, and frankly lacked soul! But when we gave our own team something to believe in (Empowering customers at home! A cleaner aesthetic!), that's when things finally started to click. Home Chef has since sold to Kroger, and continues to grow every day.