As a marketer, every now and again you probably hear a variety of excuses from your company for not trying something new. Perhaps something along the lines of: “Nobody else in our industry is doing this kind of marketing, so why should we?” 

Well, I’m here to suggest that your industry doesn’t matter.

The thing is that in an interconnected world, there’s a lot more than just the marketing tactics of your competitors that impacts your customers.

Take McDonald’s Canada: ‘Our food. Your questions’ programme, which invites any Canadian to ask any question about McDonald’s food on a dedicated website:

It doesn’t matter that you’re not working for a fast food company because what the Golden Arches are embracing could be the start of a cultural change that impacts every business.

So what is it about?

McDonald’s understood that there was a huge amount of chatter about their food. They couldn’t respond to it all individually (through the call centre or emails). So they built a one-stop information shop.

The ‘Our food. Your questions.’ programme launched in June. To ask McDonald’s a question, participants must connect to either Twitter or Facebook - which is the clever bit, providing social visibility and the ‘ripple in the pond’ effect.

More than 16,000 questions have been asked. 10,000 have been answered.

And more than 31 million questions have been read (by ‘following’ a question and being notified when it has been answered).

And there’s no dodging the tough questions…


So what did McDonald’s do so well?

  • A truly customer-focused idea
  • Promoted information instead of the company itself
  • Made information a spectator sport
  • Marketed their marketing (McDonald’s put a lot of money into promoting the programme, offline, too)

McDonalds have been brave. They have developed a fantastic, new and dynamic way of engaging with their customers – and in doing so they will be changing the expectations of YOUR customers.

So it is wise to learn about new and innovative marketing techniques being ‘applied’ in industries outside of your own. They may well start influencing your approach to engaging with your customers.