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“Secret Menu” may be secret marketing weapon

Published March 18, 2014 at 7:01 am

You walk up to a counter at a restaurant or sandwich shop and casually mention the name of something that’s not on the menu. But instead of acting confused, the clerk nods, takes your order and sends you on your way.

Pay attention to this process, because it’s one that might be a secret marketing weapon for your brand, whether you work in food service or not. The “secret menu” concept is an alluring one that can help your customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club and promote your business as one with a little extra to offer.

One of the most famous examples of this is the list of ordering options for In-n-Out Burger, the much loved West Coast chain that can deliver your burgers wrapped in lettuce instead of the traditional buns or your fries doused in sauce and toppings, as one intrepid Huffington Post contributor recently wrote.

Another chain that features an extensive range of hidden offerings is the sandwich chain Potbelly’s. Thrillist recently documented all of the different sandwiches that this chain can offer to the savvy orderer, which include variations on the items already on the menu as well as some more obscure things. And yes, one of them is a variation on the infamous “Elvis” sandwich, including peanut butter, bananas and bacon.

Not every company may think of this as something they can provide. But a “secret handshake” can give businesses the chance to target their consumers more directly and make them feel like part of a secret club that values them enough to offer them something truly special.

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