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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Playing Hard To Get: The McRib Strategy

Written By: Carol Roth | No Comments
Everyone wants what they cannot have… 

McDonald’s is bringing back its elusive fan favorite sandwich, the McRib.  For most of its existence, the McRib has only been available at select McDonald’s stores across the country for just a few weeks at a time.  This time, McDonald’s is still keeping its rollout limited (to one month), but making it available at stores nationwide.

It could have been a fad, but by playing “hard to get”, McRib has become more than a product- it has become part of pop culture.  Parodied on the Simpsons and the subject of hundreds of fan groups Internet-wide, customers travel from every corner of the US in search of an unparalleled 500 calories of tastiness.    

McDonald’s spokeswoman Tara Hayes told AFP that by limiting  the sandwich’s availability, it “helps to keep fans passionate about the product.”   Only a product “so delicious, so special, so elusive and so legendary could create such a widespread affection among its fans”.

The strategy works because the product was strong to begin with.  There was interest generated by the limited availability and continued by that same strategy.  If you crave it, you know there is a limited window to indulge- otherwise, no McRib for you…until who knows when?

It also works because it is authentic.  It isn’t a false strategy.  There are Internet marketers that try to use exclusivity when there is none (aka, there are only 10 seats left to my free webinar!).  It’s not like you can go to a McDonald’s, give the secret McRib handshake and get one anytime.  It really is limited and when it’s gone, it’s gone.    

Think about how you might use the McRib strategy to prolong the life of a fad product or service or create interest in something special you are offering.  Playing hard to get can be an awesome strategy, but there has to be something to back it up.

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth