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Newsletter #888: The “Lessons from Chick-fil-A” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Chick-fil-A is one of the most beloved brands on earth. With more than 1,600 restaurants in 39 states and $4 billion in revenue, they’re earning fans on a massive scale. But so much of what they do is simple, clever, and low-budget stuff that any business can borrow. What you should do:

1. Start your own holiday
2. Get fans involved
3. Be a part of the community
4. Check it out: Your Twitter feed on toilet paper

1. Start your own holiday

Every year, people dress up in cow costumes and line up outside Chick-fil-A stores everywhere as part of Cow Appreciation Day. Their reward? A $5 chicken sandwich. That’s crazy, but this unofficial holiday has become a tradition for the brand’s adoring fans. People look forward to the big day. They dress up in goofy outfits, they make their own “Eat Mor Chikin” advertising signs, and they drag their friends to join in. With their holiday, Chick-fil-A has created more than a marketing promotion — they’ve created an annual excuse for friends and family to get together, share some laughs, and be goofy for a few hours.

The lesson: It’s not about the sandwich giveaway, it’s about the chance to celebrate something goofy and weird — and to do it with your friends.

2. Get fans involved

Take advantage of opportunities to ask your fans for help, to get their feedback, and to get them involved. It’s fun for them and it helps you make stuff better. Chick-fil-A does it by posting fan stories on their home page. They take reservations for fans to sample new menu items. They have suggestion boxes where customers can come up with new creative ideas for their “Eat Mor Chikin” signs. In lots of little ways, Chick-fil-A fans can interact with the brand they love — and it all leads to more loyalty and more word of mouth conversations.

The lesson: Put all those smart fans of yours to work and get them involved in helping to make your marketing and your products better.

Learn more: Blogussion

3. Be a part of the community

Chick-fil-A doesn’t feel like a corporate behemoth. Each restaurant feels like a genuinely local business. Their franchises are home to meetings, social hangouts, and special events. And recently, a group of high school seniors in Loudon County, VA pulled a prank by stealing their local Chick-fil-A’s mascot (a cow-shaped plant) and putting it on the front lawn of their school. Chick-fil-A’s response? They sent someone in a cow costume to “hug it out” with the seniors and posted pictures of it on their Facebook page.

The lesson: If your business left the community you’re in, would anybody miss it?

Learn more: The Consumerist

4. Check it out: Your Twitter feed on toilet paper

Here’s your chance to bring all of your digital Twitter brilliance to the real world in two-ply form.

Check it out: Huffington Post

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