As a product-based business or brand, the ultimate goal is to have customers love you. They can’t do that unless they meaningfully interact with you. One way to do this is to create a “secret menu.” Developing a product that’s spread by word of mouth allows select customers to become insiders. In turn, you create interest, like, then love for your business.
A Lesson from “Swingers”
In the cult classic “Swingers,” Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau follow a friend down an alley as he pulls on random doors. They’re all locked, but he finally pulls open one indistinguishable door. Behind the door was Los Angeles’ coolest club. Only an insider would know about that door.
That’s the magic of a secret menu.
Secrets of a Secret Menu
Restaurants have successfully used the secret menu strategy for years. The most famous might be In-N-Out Burger, whose basic menu is simple: burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Over the years, it adapted to customer whims. Now, the secret menu is not-so-secret, but knowing you could get something special still holds allure for most customers.
Your business can receive many benefits when employing this restaurant-inspired strategy:
1. Customer Marketing: When you provide select customers with information or products that no one else has, it’s natural for them to start bragging about it. Bragging is actually marketing for your company.
2. The Cool Factor: A secret menu and a regular menu contrast cool with uncool at one company. Even if your business is über-hip, the shininess wears off as more people join the bandwagon. A small team pumping out secret items will keep your company on the cutting edge without a lot of innovation risk.
3. Brand Focus: Successful businesses target niches and only create focused products. A secret menu allows you to pare down offerings to the mass market while playing around with new possibilities behind the scenes.
Roll Out Quietly
In-N-Out Burger proves that there are degrees of secrecy in the secret menu world. A hidden menu of offerings doesn’t have to be top secret to be successful. But the most notable thing about a secret menu is that it’s shared customer-to-customer, so it’s important to articulate how you won’t share the information. The best thing to do is to let a few select customers in on what’s happening. It’s something you offer to only the best customer.
The primary objective of a secret menu is to give your customers something interesting to talk about. When deciding what to offer, aim for extremes: fastest, smallest, biggest, the most expensive. To be akin to PR initiatives, it has to be interesting and noteworthy.
Restaurants aren’t the only ones that can employ the secret menu strategy. Look around at your business and your customers. It shouldn’t be hard to dream up ways to make them “insiders.”