Friday, July 15, 2011

More is Less: Book Marketing Strategy Via McDonald's

Last week I went to McDonald’s.  Please don’t tell my wife, the calorie-counting nutritionist (

This is not news, of course, but I had an odd experience.  I went to order the 10-piece Chicken McNuggets.  The counter girl said: “Would you like to get the 20-piece?  It’s a better deal.”

I thought she meant if I buy in bulk, the per-nugget cost would decrease.  But I assumed the total price of 20 would be more than a pack of 10 nuggets.

“It’s $5.69 for the 10-piece and $4.99 for the 20,” she said.

“Can I order the 20 piece but just give me 10?,” hoping to get the lower price but not eat more grease than I planned to intake.

She went to check with the manager, as if my proposal was so challenging.

“No, sir.  You can get the 20-piece for $4.99 or the 10-piece for $5.69,” she robotically repeated to me.

Well, the choice was clear.  I’ll get the large one, pay less than I would for the half size and either give some to the homeless (I was bound to find some homeless people on the streets of the city) or toss what I didn’t want (though I would feel guilty doing that).

I couldn’t figure out why they were offering that deal.  Were they trying to get rid of the nuggets before they spoiled?  Was the packaging (box) for 20 cheaper than the box of 10?  Were they merely trying to get me to overeat?

It didn’t make sense.

The only thing I could conclude was they either hoped people who get the great deal on 20 tell others or they wanted to appear family-oriented by providing so much food for so little.  But then I concluded they hoped I’d stretch my appetite to get used to eating more than my normal 10 so that the next time I come in I will supersize and presumably pay more for doing so.

Can we do something like this when marketing our books, where we charge less for a package of books than we would for a single title, in hopes that it will give forced exposure to other revenue-producing books by the same author?

I ended up eating 15 McNuggets – 50% more than normal.  I found them to taste exceptionally good and fresh and I felt too lazy to find the homeless, too guilty to toss so many away.  I could have offered some to a fellow diner but they may think I spiked them with a roofie or something.  Who hands out food to the non-homeless?

Imagine if an author, who has maybe three books in print who offers two for a slightly lower price than for one, and then sells a third one and loyal readers of future books are reated.

Maybe McDonald’s is on to something.  You might clog an artery with the extra food but they will have won  over a loyal customer who will come back for more – until of course a heart attack eliminates that customer.

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer at Planned Television Arts ( and blogs daily at You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert.

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