Picture of burger with books in the center of it.

QSR Marketing that Out-Markets the McGiants with Promotional Storytelling

There are 3 steps to writing an effective promotional story that will sell.

Storytelling is one of the best ways, if not the best way, to communicate. But if you lay out all the elements of your current campaign, does it tell a story your target audience can easily follow, or is it a mish-mash of different story lines? 

Here are 3 steps for building effective promotional stories:

  1. Start at the end. The menu board. What do you want them to purchase?
  2. Now go to the beginning. How will you get them on the lot?
  3. Now fill in the middle. What will you tell them on their on-lot “customer journey” that builds to the story’s end at the menu board?

Let’s take a look at the end—the menu board. 

Many times, what you advertise and what you want the customer to purchase are two different things. I’m not talking about bait and switch. My clients always have plenty of the products they advertise and will sell as much as the consumer wants. But when you get the consumer to your lot, you should feel obligated to also inform them of both the better and best values you offer, then let them decide.

So here’s a story outline:

  • The story starts with media on the front of the store with two burgers for $5. This is the main character—the center of the story and of the plate.
  • Then the middle of the story may become more interesting when our two burgers meet a medium fry and drink and form a combo.
  • Then it gets even more interesting when cheese is added, and the medium fry and drink can be economically up-sized to a large.
  • Then the story ends at the menu board where they all come together. The customer then tells all of his or her friends about the great story they just devoured.

Sounds so easy. And it is. But again, review your materials. Examine the competitors’ stories. I guarantee you’ll see more mistakes like this:

  • The story starts with two burgers for $5.
  • The middle then introduces an unrelated new character—the spicy chicken sandwich. Then it veers off unexpectedly to the land of soft serve ice cream, then over to a movie tie-in that you really can’t read at all.
  • Then the story ends suddenly with the main character being killed off and replaced with smoked sausage biscuits.

Nobody said marketing was easy. Especially when you have to stand firm against the sincerely good intentions of those who want to bombard the customer with product after product in hopes of adding incremental sales.

The intentions here are the same. However, focus on adding incremental sales that fit within the context of your story. Then you can create an entirely new story for the spicy chicken.

photo credit: Tiago M Nunes via Shutterstock

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