For everything McDonald’s got wrong they got one thing very right. The Happy Meal…or more affectionately known to parents as ‘the cheap way to keep kids quiet in the backseat for 20 minutes’.
When I say ‘they got it right’, I’m not talking about the three key ingredients - burger, fries and soft drink, I’m referring to the toy! The toy that is changed out weekly or monthly and sometimes even coincides with the release of a new movie.
You see McDonald’s knows how to stick with what works, yet make it seem like they’re magically changing things up all the time by making small tweaks with the small things. Think about it -The Happy Meal ingredients haven't changed since 1979 but the toy consistently has.
Most promotional ideas are nothing new - it’s all about the delivery that gives the illusion that something is being done for the very first time.
It’s great marketing.
And it’s exactly what you should be doing with your business if you want to keep it exciting and fresh.
So ask yourself, how can I create something fun for my customers that ties into what’s trending right now? It needs to be something that can run for a minimum of three months with a plan to to run an evolved version of it each year to build momentum.
Then consider the following:
Is there a major prize? If people collect them all, can they go in the draw to win a holiday or a scooter? Perhaps the prize is for their whole school so can it be something that could draw the entire community in?
And if you’re like me and running multiple events each year, could you make the ‘item’ something people can only collect by attending your event? This can bring the crowds believe me.
Who’s your partner in crime?
While a promotion is good, a ‘partnership’ can make it great!
Time and time again, the humble Happy Meal has shown that this is a winning strategy. Star Trek was the first motion picture that the Happy Meal promoted, featuring themed packaging and a puzzle. Then in 1987, McDonald’s teamed up with Disney to create Happy Meals that promoted films like Cinderella, The Lion King and 101 Dalmatians.
I can tell you for nothing, this is something that I’ve tried that has really had an impact.
This year I partnered with restaurants in Queensland to offer kids a free magic trick each time they dined. Each month the trick changed and by collecting all eight tricks, kids could put on their own magic show for family or friends.
This was meant to run for four months, however, it was so successful in one restaurant that they extended it to eight!
So what will your Happy Meal effect be? What will you introduce to have your marketing appear current and trendy? The more creative you can be in drawing on repeat customers, the more effective you will be in business.
Don’t think harder, think smarter…. and a little more creatively.