Most times, the answer to the most difficult question is simple. Something that alludes you for so long, because it was where you least expected it…right in front of you.

This is especially true when it comes to restaurants. In the endless pursuit to achieve the right media mix, use the right mediums, integrate into the latest social app, or engage the ever-elusive “Millennial,” they overlook their best answer—insert your product here.

Restaurants spend billions of dollars every year on TV spots, radio ads, digital banners, and this guy spinning a sign on corners—all for one reason: to get people to eat their product.

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Your product is your most valuable asset, your best ad. Get it into people’s hands, or in a restaurant’s case, people’s mouths. If you give people one, good, free taste, they will come back to pay for many more.

100% of people love free food (source: human truth)…unless of course that food happens to be vegan bacon.

Two very successful top-of-the-food-chain restaurants come to mind when thinking of companies that have realized the answer right in front of them—Chick-fil-A and Chipotle.

At the center of every major campaign launch is free chicken. When Chick-fil-A opens a new store, they hand out thousands of free sandwiches to the community and reward the first 100 people to the opening with free Chick-fil-A for a year. When the new breakfast menu launched, people were able to reserve a spot for a free meal. When the spicy chicken sandwich blazed on the scene—free. And in their latest success, Chick-fil-A encouraged the download of their new Chick-fil-A One app with…you guessed it, a free sandwich.

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When Chipotle was facing the biggest challenge the company has ever faced, they went back to the basics. Reminding people why they fell in love with Chipotle in the first place…because it tastes delicious! Since experiencing a PR nightmare that would give us all stomachaches to deal with, people have been wooed back into the doors over the past months with a showering of free and BOGO offers to remind guests that distance makes the palate grow fonder. And that one taste is a simple reminder of why myself…I mean…everyone…used to eat there 1…2…ok, 3 times a week.

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Sure, both of these companies still use traditional media tactics to drive brand awareness and solicit trial, but the backbone of their strategy is getting food to people and letting the product do all the selling. They realize the value of a great product getting into the hands of the consumer. You cannot taste a billboard or a TV spot or a radio ad…but you sure can taste and enjoy a FREE sandwich or taco. Now I leave you with this ultimate food fight: sandwich vs. taco. Enjoy!