What do a McRib, a Naked Chicken Chalupa and a Pumpkin Spice Latte all have in common? Besides being really tasty, they’re all popular Limited Time Offers (LTOs) from successful brands. Doing an LTO correctly can be a great lift for your brand and may even result in a profitable long-term menu item.
Why an LTO?
LTOs can be used in test markets to research product viability and longevity. Do people really want Pumpkin Spice Latte year-round, or just when the weather turns cooler? They’re also a great way to take advantage of regional food trends.
Because LTOs are limited you can have more fun with the creative. It’s important to maintain your brand guidelines, but why not use fun copy or fresh colors in your artwork? Promotional pieces will only be on display for a short time and can add excitement and a fresh pop of color to store decor.
You can also use an LTO to test price points and discounts. Since you are not committed to the promotion for the long term, you can use it to track average ticket amounts or as an upsell item.
Frequency is often the largest struggle for restaurants. LTOs give consumers a reason to visit (and hopefully return visit) outside of their typical cycle.
Winning at LTOs
Give yourself enough time
LTOs can be a huge success, but can also crash and burn if not rolled out correctly. Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino caused a sensation and the internet was flooded with photos of the fluffy pink concoction. Unfortunately, Starbucks didn’t properly communicate the rollout to local store employees, angering both baristas and unicorn-craving customers.
Provide training videos and talking points for your employees
The folks behind the counter or taking orders are your boots-on-the-ground and will ultimately close the sale. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking into a restaurant, ordering the item you’ve just seen/read about, and finding that the server is completely clueless about the LTO.
Make it real
It isn’t a limited time offer if it never goes away. A consumer who responds to the urgency trigger and makes a purchase will feel foolish and cheated when they discover that you were deceiving them. Cap your promotion time to make it a true LTO.
Tell the world
When promoting an LTO use multiple channels and platforms to get the word out. LTOs are a great way to talk about something new while still reinforcing your brand image.
Emily Carlson, Senior Account Leader