2014 sees two significant anniversaries for McDonald’s.
First up, it’s the 40th anniversary of the opening of the first store in the UK as I noticed when I happened to pop in to my local Mickey D’s for a quick breakfast.
Now, I’m not a particularly regular patron at the Golden Arches but I’ve got no problem grabbing a meal there if needs be. In fact, every now and again I enjoy having breakfast there. For me, an Egg and Bacon McMuffin is a delight, a treat and associated with early starts on road trips.
Which brings me to my first observation about how McDonald’s are framing the UK anniversary. It’s all about…memories.
Some examples that McDonald’s suggests…
“The Late Night McNuggets Run”
“The After Swimming Treat”
“The Just Passed Your Test Drive-Thru”
“The Off On Our Holidays Pit Stop”
“The Camping Trip SOS”
I would suggest there can be very few people who have ever visited a McDonald’s restaurant who couldn’t relate to at least one of those.
And the main theme of the anniversary…
…“Celebrating 40 Years Together – Share Your McDonald’s Memories”…
…and McDonald’s is inviting customers to share those memories at a special site.
More about how the company are thinking about this…
“Since we opened our first UK restaurant 40 years ago, millions of memories have been made at McDonald’s. From a first date to your first bite of a Big Mac. From kids’ parties to catching up with mates. There are McDonald’s memories that stick in all of our minds.”
With this campaign, McDonald’s are very cleverly prompting their customers to relive those happy memories and good feelings. And if you’re tempted to look down your nose a little because you might not yourself be a fan of McDonald’s…
…well you’re missing the point somewhat. The company is by any standards very successful. It is the world’s leading global food service retailer with over 35,000 locations serving 70 million customers in over 100 countries each day.
The marketing point here is that at the end of the day it’s the emotional payoff from your product or service that is why people buy from you and continue to buy from you.
Yes, of course you need to deliver a quality product or service that fulfills a genuine need or want. And we’re not talking about artificially creating good feelings and attempting to associate them with your brand or company…
…which all too often naive advertisers and marketers seem to think is a clever idea.
The second major McDonald’s anniversary is the 35th year of the McDonald’s Happy Meal. This is where you buy a children’s meal and it comes with a box and surprise toy inside. Over the years the most successful campaign was the “Teenie Beanie Babies” promotion. You didn’t know what Teenie Beanie Baby you’d get and naturally kids wanted them all! Result was more than 100 MILLION Happy Meals sold.
The broader marketing lesson here is the successful application of two tried-and-tested strategies – “Gift With Purchase” and “Toy Surprise Inside”. Both of these venerable ideas are very much alive and well and deserving of your serious consideration.
“Gift With Purchase” is commonly used by the cosmetics industry, with magazine and newsletter subscription offers and “with donation” by charities. In effect, you’re simply adding a “bonus” or “premium” to the core product or service and if you’re at all familiar with direct response marketing you will have come across this strategy many, many times. After all, it’s what makes the classic line…
…”But wait, there’s MORE”…
You can apply all sorts of variations to this basic idea. Having a time or volume limit will create some urgency. And there is pretty much no industry where this cannot be applied. Even the staid and stodgy banking business has seen the idea applied by offering gifts (a Rolls-Royce car in one case) to customers in return for, say, a deposit of a significant amount.
One little insiders tip for you, is that in most cases the gift or bonus will have a perceived (and genuine) value to the customer that is far in excess of what it has cost you to deliver that gift or bonus. For example, if you give a gift certificate as a bonus, it will not cost you the full face value, only the actual cost of fulfillment. Sure, you will be giving up the profit margin on the gift certificate but a very wise (and successful) marketer, Mal Emery, once put it this way…
…”You’re giving up part of a profit you never had to make a sale you might not have got”…
…or something like that! Mal once gave away free return flights to Hawaii to promote a marketing seminar he was running and it was a HUGE success (and yes, he did make a profit on the deal).
So take a look at how you might be able to apply this marketing strategy to your business…especially as almost always the offer including “gift with purchase” will far outperform the same offer without the gift.
The second marketing idea at work here is the “Toy Surprise Inside”. This can be an actual toy (or other small gift) of course. But more broadly, it’s the idea of incorporating a pleasant (and unexpected) surprise for your customer. Even making it FUN, perhaps exciting, perhaps enchanting to buy your product or service.
Make doing business with you a pleasure…or at least not drudgery!
You can’t always learn something from the marketing efforts of big companies. But in this case there are useful marketing lessons that pretty much any business can benefit from.
UPDATE (13 November 2014):
According to an article in the UK “Daily Telegraph”, today (13 November) is the 40th anniversary of the opening of the first McDonald’s restaurant in the UK.
“McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in the UK on November 13, 1974. It was in Powis Street, Woolwich. The company wanted a West End site, but the only landlord who was selling properties was Burton’s, the menswear chain, which was closing its shop in south east London. Which is why it ended up in this corner of the capital.
The first three McDonald’s in the UK are indeed all former Burton’s shops with the second one opening in 1975 on the Seven Sisters Road, Holloway and the third in Croydon.”
Strangely, on the company website, in the “History” area it says…
…”The first restaurant opened in Woolwich, south east London in October.”
And there’s no great fuss about the anniversary on the McDonald’s UK company website (or press release). They seem to prefer to get on with their latest campaign, the “My Burger” competition. Great way to get customers involved, I note in passing. Might have to try one myself (the McPizza Pepperoni or the Big Spicy Bacon?).