Whether you're a regular customer of theirs or not, most people recognise that McDonald's is a successful brand. A significant contributor to this is the company's ability to effectively market itself across the world. But what can you learn from it?
You may not think your small business has a lot in common with the fast-food giant, but there are a number of things any firm can take away from McDonald's.
1. Give consumers consistency
No matter where you go in the world, McDonald's will have the same brand aesthetic. Sure, it's specific products may differ slightly from market to market, but the core business is the same. This gives consumers the confidence that they know the exact experience they can get when they walk into a McDonald's, regardless of where they are or what time it is.
Your business should have its own tone of voice, style guide and personas that can be given to all areas of marketing. This consistency allows your customers to feel at ease which helps build trust and loyalty.
2. Know and understand your customers
McDonald's knows that it's not a five-star restaurant and that people aren't going to go there for a special occasion either, and its marketing doesn't pretend otherwise. Instead, it's somewhere that people go out of convenience and this attracts a wide audience. You'll see this in McDonald's TV campaigns as it celebrates how its customers come from all different walks of life.
Use this in your own marketing by truly understanding the consumers you are targeting. Invest in personas, basic research, user journey analysis and national statistics to get a clearer idea of what your customers want from you.
3. Don't refuse to be flexible
Although McDonald's has stayed consistent, it hasn't stayed the same. Concerns about the quality of the food has been one of the brand's toughest problems in the last ten years and it's been proactive in response. Their marketing has become much more focused on where their food is sourced, what goes into it, providing healthy eating options, and building connections with charities.
If there are big changes that affect what your customers want from you, then you need to be able to adapt accordingly. Celebrate the way you address these issues and beat your competitors to the punch.
4. Celebrate what you're great at
As mentioned earlier, McDonald's know it's not a luxury destination or somewhere people even go out of their way to visit. And its marketing campaigns make that clear.
This is something you should take to heart for your own company. Identify your USP and run with it. Don't try and be something you're not, as consumers will see straight through it and not have confidence in your ability to deliver what they want.
5. Don't be afraid to break the mould
McDonald's has been innovative in its own way, whilst sticking closely to its core business model. It consistently features new products only available for a certain period of time. This adds an element of exclusivity to its offering, much like Starbucks' festive drinks range. They also launched the Monopoly promotion and Happy Meal products, giving something completely new to its consumers.
You should never let your own products become stale. If you understand your consumers well, you shouldn't be afraid of innovating your services. Take a leaf out of the big M's book and run a set period promotion to trial a product and see what consumers think before investing big.
6. Keep your competitors close
Throughout its life cycle, McDonald's has had a number of major competitors, but has survived and even fared better than many.
In your business, you need to understand your competitors almost as well as you know your own brand. Look at their marketing strategies, products, anything you can get your hands on and see how your company can go one step better.
7. Build a presence
McDonald's has become synonymous with fast food and burgers. This has been achieved with consistent branding through its marketing, social media and assets, such as packaging and in-store designs. You may not have the same budget as McDonald's, but you can take this lesson to your marketing strategy.
Ensure you are creating a brand presence for your company, delivering the same experience for each customer. This should be tied into your business values. Think about how you want your consumers to view you and work around it. For example, if ethics is a top priority, build your marketing around how your brand is ethical and why that's important to your consumers.