Beef-less Burger Buyer And The Meatless Memo

Today I’m happy to share an example of agility in marketing.  In particular, this example highlights the principles of responding to change versus following a plan and also a bit of customer discovery.  What am I talking about?  Why, I’m talking about what I had for lunch of course.

A Disturbance In The (Meat) Force

In case you missed it, the coworking giant WeWork announced on July 13th, 2018 that employees would no longer be able to expense meals including red meat, poultry, or pork whether for individuals or for events.  Just google “wework meatless” and you’ll notice it was picked up by just about every major newspaper and media outlet.

It was as if thousands of voices suddenly cried out because they really like getting free stuff like beef burritos, pepperoni pizza, and turkey subs from time to time.  And a Bloody Mary bar without peppie-sticks is a little hard to deal with.  But I digress.

Morning(star) In America

At the same time, some nice people at MorningStar Farms were already in the middle of their summer-long food truck road trip when they heard the news.  They were scheduled to stop in Minneapolis in 3 weeks, and there is a WeWork office in downtown Minneapolis.  Just as you can already see where this is going, these guys put 2+2 together pretty quickly as well.  Within 2 weeks, signs were already posted in the WeWork space about the upcoming event.

I Could Get Used To This

Our office is in the Downtown Minneapolis WeWork space.  And even though I hadn’t previously noticed the bulletin about this week’s events, it was hard to miss the MorningStar Farms table full of schwag strategically placed next to the espresso/cappuccino machine.  Having worked my fair share of corporate event booths, in my opinion they had some pretty nice stuff.  I passed on it though there was no shortage of takers.  I did, however, accept the offer of a free burger.  I was confused, though, as I didn’t see or smell any burgers nearby (valuable survival skills) and I was directed to visit their food truck just outside the building.

During the nicer months of the year, there are food trucks all around downtown.  And so this definitely fit right into the scene and there was the usual crowd of people out getting lunch.

And within a minute I had a really nice burger in my hands.  I even said out loud, “That’s one good-looking burger!”  Seriously, it was camera-ready.  They even have a brand “brand” to mark the buns.

Best of all, it tasted great!  I’ve had their burgers before and they never tasted this good – not at home, not a cookouts, not even at Burger King when I’ve tried a veggie Whopper.  But this burger honestly reminded of an animal-style In-N-Out burger which is just about my gold standard.

A Buyer Is Born

That burger made me add a box of MorningStar Farms patties to my shopping list.  Like I said, I’ve had them before and I wasn’t impressed.  But their food truck did something really important – they gave me a great experience with their product, a much better one than I ever had before.  And it wasn’t because they added truffle oil, foie gras (that would be kinda ironic), or anything crazy – they just did a really good job of executing a simple burger (again reminding me of In-N-Out).  And this is important – it was also something I could easily see myself replicating.  I understand both their potential and how to achieve it.  Which sounds really high-minded when I’m talking about veggie burgers.

How good was it?  Once I took a bite, I just kept eating until it was gone.  Then I though about writing this and how it would’ve been nice to have a better picture of the burger itself.  But anyway, here’s what was left :)

The Takeaways

The folks at Morningstar Farms didn’t plan on WeWork announcing a policy change for expensing meals.  Nor did they plan on hitting the road just to visit WeWork and connect those dots.  They were already executing another plan but they kept their eyes and ears open and responded to an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way.  They had the flexibility and autonomy to react quickly and make it happen.

And the result? I’m writing this 2 hours after eating that burger, so I haven’t heard back from their CEO yet on the impact on the bottom line.  But seriously, I can tell you for sure that if the business case looked good for doing their road trip in the first place, it only got better by making this little pivot, allowing them to connect a little deeper, converting me into a buyer, and now I’m advocating them by writing about it and sharing the experience on social media.  Not a bad return on a free burger.

And grilled onions.  Those are key too.