In-N-Out Burger's Marketing Magic

DUKE SHERMAN

How do you build a word-of-mouth following for your product or service—and then refrain from screwing it up if you're lucky enough for the concept to gain traction? That's one challenge most companies would love to wrestle with, but few do. California's fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger is an exception, with a famously devoted customer base that inspires envy throughout the industry—and brand recognition well beyond its geographic reach. But instead of pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into ad campaigns like rivals Burger King (BKC) and McDonald's (MCD), In-N-Out relies mainly on its carefully located stores, billboards, bumper stickers, T-shirts, and its own rabid fans to broadcast its message. In this excerpt from her new book, In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules BusinessWeek writer Stacy Perman shows how the chain's marketing strategy works.

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