Anthony Glynn
Anthony Glynn 20 May 2016

Do You Want Fries With That? How Upselling Can Double Your Profits

It’s a familiar phrase. A simple, easy-to-say phrase that doesn’t raise any eyebrows. Yet bizarrely, it’s one of the most effective marketing tools in existence. “Do you want fries with that?”

Whether you love, hate or feel indifferent about McDonald’s, you’d be from another planet if you hadn’t heard this phrase (no offence). Yet it’s not some kind of elephant in the room is it? It’s not as if you leave the restaurant with a resounding memory of ‘that time the counter guy asked if you wanted FRIES’.

But think about it: when else would you part with your hard-earned cash so easily? I mean, did you even ask how much the fries cost? Probably not, because you’ve bought fries before and they’re not expensive. But in honesty, when was the last time you actually checked how much fries were? Would you actually notice if they were suddenly more expensive than the Big Mac?

Ok, so you probably would notice if you bothered to see what was left in your pocket. But hopefully you get the point. By not making a big deal of asking the fries question, McDonald’s reassure you that buying fries is not a big deal. There’s no fancy pitch or gimmick, just a humble suggestion. Buying this isguilt-free; no harm will come to your financial situation.

But on top of that, there’s something else. The casual nature of the question also suggests that it’s a standard, usual question, which in turn suggests that this question is usually answered with ‘yes’. You know what that is? That’s the most subtle form of peer pressure in existence. That’s mob rule in its cutest, friendliest guise. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. In a world of sheep, there’s no harm in being woolly – because it’s what everyone else is doing.

But that’s McDonald’s, what about ME? …

If you’re worried that you don’t have Ronald McDonald on your marketing team, don’t be. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all the big-hitters follow the same principles when it comes to upselling, and the big secret? There isn’t one. You can follow these principles yourself, quite easily.

And the main principle is to follow the sales funnel , and remember your customer’s journey. From attracting their custom with advertising, lead magnets and the rest, you’ve reached a point where they have chosen you for your core products. At this stage, the upselling stage, subtlety is key. You don’t need to push the boat out with enticements anymore, and you certainly don’t want to rock the boat with gimmicks that may turn them off. Just relax, breathe deeply, and see what else you’ve got…

In McDonald’s case, this is many ‘add-ons’ to its core product – the Big Mac. The main draw for most customers would be this meal, but once they’re at the counter they could very easily see what else is on offer. This is very basic psychology of course, but consider how it can all go terribly, horribly wrong. If you have a glut of add-ons (which many shops and businesses do) you have to leave the decision making to the customer. As any indecisive Libra like me will know, too much choice is about as much fun as haemorrhoids.

But if you suggest the add-ons, you do the hard work and the customer will thank you for it. If you know your stock well enough, you’ll know the perfect accompaniments to your core products – so don’t be afraid to make suggestions! You may not think you have something as easy as fries to offer, but you could very well be wrong. Think of the lives your customers lead. If they want product A, what invariably is the product B they buy to go with it? If you know the answer, help them out and give it to them!

The Bundle

But McDonald’s don’t stop there, so why should you? Bundling products together helps the customer (so ultimately you, through nurturing the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST factor) in two ways:

  1. They eliminate the hard work of choosing products, so save time
  2. They cost less than buying products individually, so save money

So if fostering a pain-free customer experience isn’t enough for you, then the saving money aspect certainly should be! Granted, you’ll have to be careful to not go overboard and give your entire stock away for next to nothing, but that’s just number-crunching. The increased footfall – and average basket spend – will more than pay you back for any short-term loss.

But most importantly of all, focus on making life easier for your customers. If you respect the sales funnel (or process, if your prefer), you’ll have done all the hard work before a single upsell idea comes into your mind. You’ve made a comfortable chair for your customer, so let them relax in it for a while! And whatever you do, don’t forget what drew them to you in the first place.

Change is a good thing, but in small and gradual doses. Enjoy the ride, but gently steer in the right direction…

If you’d like me to stay on your radar with tips, anecdotes and advice, do pop your email into the ‘FOLLOW’ box on my blog page, and you won’t miss out on my next post. But in the meantime…

Happy Marketing!

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