I’m not surprised when I drive by a fast food franchise and I see a sign for a new food item plastered on their building. They usually are illustrated with the additional phrase “For a limited time only” or “While supplies last.” These delectable additions to the menu seem to draw customers in by the droves, too.
Recently, McDonald’s brought back the McRib Sandwich to the hoots and howls of thousands around the country. At work, it was hailed as a notable holiday and about a dozen staffers (albeit mostly men) flocked out of our office for a McRib-a-thon.
So, if these mini-campaigns get folks coming into establishments with great frequency and urgency, why don’t they just keep these items on the menu to begin with?
It all comes down to attracting new customers and increasing visits from your current ones. Customer retention programs are nothing new, but you’ll need some fresh thinking.
By altering your product line with a limited-time item, you’re offering an opportunity for current (and perhaps lapsed) customers to renew their interest in your business. Marketing and public relations campaigns can be easily built around these events which profile the flexibility of your offerings. These presentations get etched in a consumer’s mind, prompting them to be more alert to everything else you have to offer.
But wait, if you don’t run a restaurant, what does this mean to you? How do you offer a special burger if you’re selling widgets? Well discounts and sales are the cornerstone activity that can attract attention, but there are a lot of different ways to accomplish business life beyond value.
Think about an approach in terms of a limited-time opportunity. Bundle your items, implement a BOGO campaign, create a sweepstakes, or take on a sought-after item that’s related to but out of your company’s realm. For instance, last Christmas a swimming pool distributor in suburban Chicago was giving away a remote controlled “air shark” with the purchase of any pool. While it might be a small item in your mind, the dealer moved more than 100 pools in that period before he ran out of “sharks.” That’s three times what he anticipated.
Sure, the economy is the biggest culprit in all of this. But it you can think creatively about repackaging the products you’re selling, even just for a short period, you’ll be getting new folks in the door and bringing your old friends back to the register.
While I passed on the McRib, they got me with that darn Shamrock Shake!