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There is an important lesson to be learned from fast food menus, and particularly, the vastly different strategies of McDonald’s and Five Guys.

McDonaldsFor those who aren’t familiar with the McDonald’s menu, there is something for everyone: burgers, fish, chicken (in a bun or nugget-style), salads, fries, gourmet coffee and desert.  If you arrive for breakfast, you can choose from yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, eggs, muffins, egg McMuffins, juices and coffee.  In other words, McDonald’s is all about options, options, and more options.

At Five Guys, they sell thee items: a hamburger (with or without cheese), fries (small or large), and soda pop. Five Guys is all about focus, focus, and more focus.

Here’s the question: who has it right?

McDonald’s Options Strategy:  Their message is simple: whether you are looking for great coffee, a healthy meal, or “comfort food”, we have something for you.  When you come as a group, there will be something for everyone.  And whether you come for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just looking for snack, we have just the right thing.  All roads lead to us.

Web marketing insight: Each person or organization has their own idea of how and when they would like to “consume” what you have on offer.  Even before the sale occurs, consider the many forms of communication and interaction that are possible:

  • Tweet, email, blog post, whitepaper, book
  • One minute video commercial, five minute video how-to, 30 minute video interview
  • Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn group conversations
  • Webinar, Workshop, Keynote presentation

A McDonald’s strategy would create a “menu” of consumables (content, tools, and methodology); prospective clients enter this ecosystem at a pace and entrypoint of their own choosing.  There is something for everyone.

Five Guys Focus Strategy:  The Five Guys marketer is different: the only people they care about are those who want a burger and fries.  They focus on making the absolute best burger and the absolute best fries – period.  Because of this quality, they can charge more – sometimes much more.  It also means simpler purchasing and logistics, simpler staff training, and simpler marketing.  Yet not all is rosy: what if people suddenly decide they didn’t want to eat burgers?  (Remember Mad Cow disease?)

Web marketing insight:  Focus makes excellence possible, and excellence is what provides competitive advantage.  How many things are on your menu… that others do better than you?  A Five Guys approach would be to ditch these, and focus only on what you do better than your competitors.


Which is best: McDonald’s or Five Guys?  With respect to their food, you’ll have to decide on your own.  With respect to strategy, perhaps the answer is more of an AND than an OR.   McDonald’s looks at each of its menu items, and asks how it can make each better: better milkshakes, better chicken, better coffee, and better fries.  And it kills items that don’t make the grade. (McPizza, anyone?)  And despite their focus on focus, Five Guys has widened their menu to satisfy vegetarians:  they sell a cheeseburger, minus the burger: they call it grilled cheese.

This week’s action plan:  Look at your marketing strategy this week, and give it a label: Are you a McDonald’s (options), or are you Five Guys (focus)?  There isn’t a right or wrong, but the tactics that follow are vastly different.

Bonus marketing insight:  Perhaps these two strategies are not separate at all, but are a function of business maturity: once McDonald’s dominated one food category (burgers), they started widening their offerings to dominate others (McCafe, for example).

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


No one cares about you – they care about how you can solve their problems. Write for your readers.

These two expressions epitomize the most important marketing (and social media) concept: relevance. How often have you seen a post, picture, tweet, or comment that adds zero value? Or where the signal-to-noise ratio is, well, noisy?

When it comes to using social media as a professional tool, there is a subtle shift that must happen. Instead of a self (or corporate) focus, the post must be designed to be user-relevant, and user-focused. It’s true that celebrities (and politicians) often break this rule, but they would do better if they were more relevant.

Social relevance isn’t rocket science – here are five tips that can help:

  1. Define the primary and secondary audience for your Facebook and Twitter updates, tweets, videos, and blogs.
  2. Define the overall goal and the high level messaging that you need each audience to adopt.
  3. Brainstorm on the key information needs of the target audiences. And if you’re not sure, ask. The intersection of this and your goal/messaging should define your overall theme.
  4. Brainstorm specific post topics within this theme.
  5. Seek to engage, not just broadcast. A great barometer of relevance is the degree of engagement. If there are no shares, likes, or comments, your post may not have hit the mark.

This week’s action plan: What’s your signal-to-noise ratio? This week, review all of your social posts, using this five-point checklist as your criteria. (Are the posts really written for a targeted audience? Does it appear that there is an underlying goal? Are the topic choices important to the audience? And on a similar theme? Is there engagement?) If the posts are too wide-ranging and diffuse, then start writing for your reader: they will care about you once you begin solving their problems.

Competitive insight: Reviewing your competitor’s social posts can often give you insight to their marketing strategy: reverse engineering what they have been saying, provides visibility to their priorities and goals.

Postscript: Read the last 30 (or 300) posts of mine at What is my signal-to-noise ratio?

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

PS:  My firm now publishes a no-spam high-value monthly newsletter, the one-o-eight.  It’s filled with more content and news you can use.  To subscribe, fill in the form here.

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Choosing your focus

by Randall Craig January 18, 2013

Do you attribute your success to your focus?  Many people do – and in the spirit of “small focus – small success/strong focus – great success” many people are focused on… greater focus.  But is there a downside? Consider the following: Ignoring everything except the goal means that many data points along the way are […]

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Your Daily Social Media Routine

by Randall Craig June 14, 2012

How do you spend the first 20 minutes at the office each day? If you were in the 1970’s, you would spend the time reading the newspaper, then organizing your inbox (the box on your desk), and finally looking at your calendar before “starting” your day. In the 1980’s, you would be doing the same, […]

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Tools of the Trade

by Randall Craig January 3, 2012

If you are reading this and profess to have some expertise in Social Media, then you may be offended by my next comment: it soon won’t matter, and your “expertise” is fast becoming irrelevant. Your long term career is in jeopardy, and your short term prospects are also questionable. Note that I didn’t say that […]

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13 Social Media New Year’s Resolutions

by Randall Craig December 20, 2011

Are you one of those people who have given up on New Year’s resolutions?  If you are active on the Social Web, an annual review – and a few resolutions – can make a significant difference to your effectiveness.  Here’s my take on a few you should consider: This Week’s (Year’s) Action Plan: Review and […]

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Reflections on Steve Jobs and the impact of Apple

by Randall Craig October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs was a visionary:  incredible focus, a market disruptor, a tech genius, a serial entrepreneur, and so on.  All true, but there is also something else – a thread that underlies and connects everything that Apple does: their focus on the empowered customer.  From day one, this was reflected in the user experience. It […]

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Social Media Stop Sign

by Randall Craig September 13, 2011

How long ago did you (or your organization) start your Social Media “work”?  Likely, a few years ago.  First came LinkedIn: you filled out your profile, asked for (and responded to) connection requests.  Then you asked for (and responded to) recommendation requests, asked (and responded to) questions, and joined a number of groups.  Then you […]

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The Rule of Three

by Randall Craig December 7, 2010

Have you ever read a blog post or listened to a presentation, only to find yourself unable to recall what was written or said? Have you ever found yourself frustrated when your own ideas are so quickly forgotten? There are many possible reasons for this, but often the culprit is a lack of focus in […]

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Prime time

by Randall Craig November 17, 2010

Are you interrupted so often that you can never get anything done? Too often, our priorities are set by external stimulus, and not through intentional decisions. We focus on the urgent, not the important. The key to addressing this issue is training… of those people around you. If people think that you will always answer […]

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Enough Fluff

by Randall Craig November 3, 2010

In today’s society, we are surrounded by fluff: low value information whose noise gets in the way of solid analysis, improved relationships, and personal excellence. Some of the fluff is mis-aimed advertising, some fluff is reply-all emails, and other fluff is “analysis” that doesn’t really analyze. We see fluff at meetings that go on too […]

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Persona Grata

by Randall Craig June 8, 2010

When you are doing a major presentation, writing a blog, or posting on Twitter, how do you know whether what you say is hitting the mark? And how can you improve the effectiveness of your message? One of the more clever techniques that marketers use for this purpose – and you can too – is […]

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White Space

by Randall Craig July 22, 2008

Graphic designers know that if you have one element on the page, and lots of white space around it, the eye is drawn to that one element. Professional speakers know how to use a pause – silence – to emphasize a point. And musicians know that a break in the music creates anticipation. How can […]

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by Randall Craig May 20, 2008

Without a doubt there are at least some people who are reading this Tipsheet while also listening to music, having an instant-message conversation (or two), and speaking on a telephone conference call. Supposedly, multi-tasking skills improve with time: eventually, like the computers we rely on, we believe our brain can process multiple streams of activity […]

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One Thing

by Randall Craig October 16, 2007

We are often distracted by things around us. Indeed, sometimes entire mornings or afternoons can go by without actually accomplishing much. If you string these days together, it is no wonder why we are not reaching the level we think we should be at: we’re too busy multi-tasking between emails, voicemails, instant messaging, FAXes, conference […]

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You Don’t Start a Bonfire, You Light a Spark

by Randall Craig February 27, 2007

What starts you on your path – and what prevents you from taking that first step? While there are many contributing factors, consider this concept: you don’t start a bonfire; you light a spark. Those who are so focused on lighting the bonfire often give up. The enormity of the big picture prevents us from […]

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by Randall Craig December 12, 2006

Have you ever had an athletic injury, and found yourself on the sidelines? This happens off the field too: we let a career “injury” shunt us to the sidelines as well. Athletes quickly learn that a leg injury just means a renewed focus on the upper body. So should we when it comes to our […]

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It’s not what you say, it’s what they see

by Randall Craig June 13, 2006

Who doesn’t remember the old adage “Do as I say, not as I do”? For today’s progressive manager, this expression isn’t really appropriate. But how about “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do”? This variation is better, as it focuses on action. Furthermore, when you do and say the same things, you develop […]

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