How Do I Love Thee? With a Stick of Biltong!

When Elizabeth Browning penned the immortal lines “How do I love thee ? Let me count the ways” in the mid-1800s, she had some fairly traditional answers in mind : “freely”, “purely”, and “with the breath, smiles and tears of all my life” provides you with the gist of what she was thinking. However, she would have arched her eyebrows if she had lived to see the advent of email marketing ! Post Valentine’s Day, I had a quick run through my inbox to see which brands had jumped onto the love wagon and attempted to shoe-horn their products and services into a Valentine’s message to greatest effect ? The results were intriguing !

For starters, there were the usual suspects. M&S was offering flowers, lingerie and the opportunity to dine in for £20 – a fine example of cross selling, if I ever saw one ! Interestingly, one of my colleagues received a version of this email where the gift card in the image had been personalised with his name – a really nice touch. Thorntons also tapped into the Valentine’s zeitgeist with last minute chocolate offers, which is always a God send for the average bloke who has left things too late ! And Kettners champagne bar came up with an intriguing proposition ( excuse the pun ) for a “Romantic Rendezvous . . . perfect for wooing, seducing, and even proposing !”

Then there were some slightly more left field examples. Chelsea Megastore got in on the act, offering their “New Torres Collection” – an interesting Valentine’s pitch given the heartbreak that is currently being experienced at The Bridge ! Dixon’s was encouraging us to “Treat someone this Valentine’s Day” by buying them a camera, a camcorder, or a satnav – presumably so that one’s wife could plot the quickest route to the dog box when she received it ! And Silverstone race track also got in on the act, encouraging those looking for Valentine’s inspiration to “Treat your someone special to a Nissan GT-R Thrill, plus two Silverstone Supercar race day tickets”. I reckon that you might expect a turbo-charged response to that one – wonder if a few relationships saw the chequered flag as a result !

But my personal favourite came from a small company called Cruga. Those of you who know me will also know that I have a South African background. Every now and then, I have a particular craving for a traditional South African treat – most often biltong, which is basically raw meat that has been spiced and dried until it’s really chewy ( admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea ). Cruga is a Milton Keynes-based outlet for SA goods, and as a regular customer I am on their mailing list.

Their pre-Valentine’s email dropped into my inbox with the truly memorable subject line of “Save 30% on Biltong this Valentine’s Day” ! Having whetted my appetite, it then proceeded to really give me something to chew on with the following unforgettable copy :

“Valentine’s is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards. At Cruga Biltong we don’t sell any of these typical Valentine Day gifts, but we do offer you the choice to be unique and buy one of our South African food gift packs or make-up your own from our vast range of beef and game biltong packs and other much loved South African food items.”

It then sealed the deal with a voucher that I could bring in to redeem against my “Valentine’s Day Offer” !

Job done – I was 100% engaged. In fact, engagement on Valentine’s Day seems to be a recurring theme in my life, but that was 15 years ago and another story altogether ! But there was a potential kink in the boerewors ( Afrikaans for “farmers sausage” ) – would my wife be as enthused as I was ? There was only one way to find out – I canvassed her, as well as my youngster, and remarkably my focus group of sample size 2 returned a unanimously positive verdict !

So this year there were no flowers, no jewellery, and no perfume. Instead, there was a gift pack comprising biltong, boerewors, plus a few other items from Cruga’s menu of SA-sourced treats. And they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach !

So – more proof, if any were needed, that the love affair with email marketing is going strong !

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About Guy Hanson

Guy has spent more than 20 years working in various aspects of marketing and data management. His current employment with Return Path’s professional services team represents a natural fit - providing response consulting solutions to a broad range of international clients to optimise the performance of their email marketing programmes. Guy is a regular contributor to the EM press and a frequent speaker at major industry events. He has also led the delivery of numerous whitepapers, including the DMA’s Email Marketing Best Practice Guidelines.