Yes, eggs that come with their own newsletter.
I'll give you what I see as the big takeaway first:
You might think that eggs is eggs. But, as we're told, some eggs are better than others – free range is better than battery, organic better than chemical. But with so many claims (many misleading) about eggs (what does "farm fresh" mean?), how do you make your eggs stand out? One way is by sending out a newsletter with each box of eggs to a) tell the story of the eggs and their producer, and b) build an unshakable bond with your customers.
The Country Hen claims to produce the best eggs in the United States. Here's what Kathy Moran from the sales department told me. (I'm telling the entire story, because it's important.)
It was the first Organic, Omega-3 egg farm in The United States. The only
product we produce is an Organic, Omega-3 Egg. However, I probably should
mention, it is the best egg on the market. I guess if it the only thing
you are going to produce, it better be!
regards to creating The Country Hen. He believed only the happiest,
healthiest hens would produce "The World's Best Egg". George exceeded all
standards for egg farming and organic certification laws. He was actually
responsible for organic certification with regards to egg farming to become much
stricter in the industry. The Country Hens enjoy roaming freely through
spacious, sunlit barns with outdoor porches attached. The outdoor porches
allow for outdoor access, but maintain our ability to completely control the
safety of our hens from predators and any risk of disease.
top scientists to develop The Country Hen's proprietary feed formula. The
over 10 organic ingredients in the feed formula is a very closely guarded
secret. It is what gives the eggs their exceptional nutritional value,
great taste, and also acts as a probiotic for our Hens. George, of course,
insisted on milling the feed right here at The Country Hen farm. Although
it is a very expensive undertaking for a single farm, it gave George the ability
to control every aspect of the quality of the raw ingredients and milling
process. Only recently, with all the human and animal grade food scares,
do we truly appreciate the value of having our own feed mill.
packaging. He only produces a half dozen size carton. This is the
way it was twenty years ago and it remains this way today. Also, case
sizes are only 15 dozen eggs. This was so he could be sure his eggs
remained fresh at store level and even in customer's refrigerators.
Finally, since the first egg carton, George also wanted his customers to feel a
strong connection to The Country Hen Farm. For this reason, he produced
newsletters for every 6-pack of eggs. The newsletters are printed every
4-6 weeks and have included many topics including: nutritional information
regarding the eggs, funny farm stories, backgrounds of Country Hen employees,
hot button farm topics in the news (ie. recently ethanol), farm poetry, customer
letters, etc… [Here are some links to the Country Hen's newsletter content.]
Now, if you had a story like that, wouldn't you want to tell the world? Wouldn't that make your product different from every other product? Wouldn't it make customers warm towards you and develop a bond with your product?
Kathy told me that customers complain if their eggs arrive without the newsletter:
customers and new customers. A high percentage of those are regarding our
newsletters. Customers love them. The insert machine that puts the
newsletters into the cartons was specially designed for The Country Hen.
Occasionally, it will act up, as all machines do. We know instantly, if
eggs got to the market without newsletters. When The Country Hen started
in 1988, it supplied only to stores in Massachusetts. Now we supply stores
from Maine to Florida and as far west as California. The newsletters have
become increasingly important as we have increased our geographic customer
base. This is because although we go from Massachusetts to all of these
states, The Country Hen, still feels like the local egg farm to all of our
customers. This is because the newsletters keep them up to date with all
the information on and about the farm. Priceless!!
I haven't heard from the company whether they are able to quantify the value of the newsletter in terms of extra sales. But you can bet it contributes thousands of dollars to the bottom line.
[Kathy emailed me later with this information: We often do a cost/benefit analysis of our
marketing programs to evaluate whether they should be continued. Even
though the newsletters are fairly substantial in cost, in twenty years, the
discontinuation of the newsletters was never a consideration because of its
obvious success and appeal with our customers.… When starting at The Country Hen, I would say that the success of
this program was obvious in less than three weeks time. That is how many
emails, letters, and calls we receive regarding the newsletter.]
When I say that every company needs a newsletter (including funeral homes), this is what I mean. In a world of battery hens and commodity-crappy products, a great, personal story – well told – is going to win out. Don't you think?