Most business owners don’t think their small business is similar to a McDonalds, but jump-starting the New Year with success requires a re-imagining. It’s not about turning your business into a worldwide conglomeration, but about looking at the techniques that have propelled McDonalds to success, and learning how you can implement them in your own business.
This global corporate giant recently faced the resurfacing of a nauseating ‘pink slime’ myth that ignited controversy over the quality of McDonald’s meat products. Global profits have stagnated, and menu options are struggling to keep up the with current consumer demand for healthy, natural products. Could this be the beginning of the end for the beloved golden arches?
The battle for brand equity and loyalty is on! Here are 6 techniques that McDonalds and other big brands use to enhance their image and connect with customers in a sincere, meaningful way, along with tips on how you can use these techniques to improve your own small business:
1. Craft a Compelling Story
Consumers love a great story. Stories of goodwill, redemption, small beginnings, etc. have the ability to connect with individuals in powerful and enduring ways. With modern technology, it is now easier than ever to reach your target markets.
In McDonalds case, they are leveraging their social media platforms to dispel myths about food quality and draw a direct line from farm to table. It is evident that the fast food chain can learn a lot from its competitors. For example, Chipotle, a brand that has experienced meteoric growth over the past ten years, uses everything from social media to animated videos to craft a story to highlight the freshness of locally sourced ingredients and how it benefits the community. How can/has your brand benefited the community?
2. Create a Consistent and Eye-Catching Visual Footprint
Consistency is key. Coca-Cola, for instance, has spent millions of dollars over the years to ensure that their signature red colored cans are the perfect hue, 100% of the time. This might be considered a little neurotic outside of a business setting, but the visual concept carries weight; consumers need to be able to recognize your brand almost immediately. Start by creating a visually appealing logo, color scheme, and message that is clear, direct, and grabs the attention of the viewer.
3. Build Your Web Presence
Social media is new territory for many businesses. What kind of content is appropriate to post? How do I measure the fruits of my labor? These are just a few of the many questions that businesses ask when sitting down with a social media consultant. Branding on social media is incredibly powerful, engaging, and best of all, it can be fun! Start by joining only a few platforms like Facebook or Twitter, and build a web page that highlights your brand’s value in a way that is consistent and concise. Be sure to publish content on a daily basis and engage your followers in conversation. Think of it as free market research!
4. Establish Credibility and a Unique Position
When you think of trustworthy, what brands come to mind? For me, oddly enough, that brand is Barbasol. Something about the brand’s message says reliable to me. This can prove invaluable for a brand. Decide what promises you want your brand to deliver on. Decide on a value proposition, and then over-deliver on it. Never underestimate the value of credibility.
5. Share Potential
Develop a brand message that is easy to understand and worthy of being shared. It’s time to let your creativity shine. McDonalds recently premiered a new marketing effort to offer random customers the ability to pay for their meal “with love.” A randomly selected order, say from a Mom, can be paid in full if she tells her son how much she loves him and posts a ‘selfie’ with him tagging McDonald’s Instagram account. While this campaign may seem silly, it can do wonders for McDonald’s brand equity. It is built simply to make people smile. What’s not to love?
6. Out-Network Your Competitors
What is your target demographic, and how do you reach them? If you do not make an effort to communicate with your market, I can guarantee that a competitor will. Partition out time in your week strictly for networking and nurturing existing relationships. Attend trade shows, discover new media channels, and participate in the conversations happening online. A sincere, authentic effort to reach out and address your customers will go a long way in building brand loyalty.