Why I love In-N-Out Burger . . . and it’s not the fries.

ken davenport, broadway, off broadway, theatre, theater, producer The fries are good, and the burgers are better.  But the real reason I love In-N-Out is the secret sauce.

And I'm not talking about the stuff they put on their meat.

I'm talking about the "secret" stuff that isn't on the menu.

For years, In-N-Out has had a secret menu that gets passed around like a note in a 8th grade algebra class.  Did you know you could get a Grilled Cheese?  Or a 3×3?  Or everyone's favorite . . . an Animal Style burger?  (The secret menu is now online on their official site here, but look at the type of response it got before then on sites like this one.)

You wouldn't know any of these items existed if you just looked at the menu that hangs above the 17 year old's head at any of their 250+ locations.  To know about these "special" items, you'd have to be in-the-know, you'd have to be a "real" fan . . . you'd have to be cool.

And that's what it comes down to. Information is not only power, but information you have that your friend doesn't makes you look just a little bit smarter.  And who doesn't like to look smarter?  

Know what else it  does?  Well, just like the 8th grader in Alegbra, knowing a secret also makes you want to share it because it shows off that extra knowledge in the process.  "Did you hear who likes Jenny?  Well, I'm not supposed to tell, but . . . "

Consumers love to discover things that make them feel part of an exclusive club.  Whether that's a new restaurant, a new show, or a new menu.  (The video game market has done this for years – with hidden worlds, cheat codes that give you unlimited weapons and more.)

Can you bury hidden treasure into your marketing plan that your audiences could discover, and then spread?

Can you build in secrets to your marketing strategies that could get your faithful fans talking and sharing?  A hidden page on a web site . . . something hidden under a seat in your theater . . . where your actors party after the show.

We've come up with a few cool ideas on Godspell already.  But I'm not going to tell you what they are.

They're secret.


(Got a comment?  I love 'em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what's on your mind!) 

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  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    There’s no wrong place for a digital barcode. It’s like The Red Button – people will push it just because it’s there.

  • TWS says:

    Money where the mouth is…. Are you willing to make public a past-dated ticket policy?

  • Matt says:

    Ken… love this post as I just arrived in LA from NY and first thing I did was get a double double animal style! Once I finished, I checked my emai and there was your blog! Kismet! And so true.

  • janis says:

    The appeal of the secret sauce is not that it’s a secret. Secrecy is just another marketing gimmick and there’s millions of them. If the sauce were not “unique,” marketing would sell burgers only until customers realize there’s nothing worth keeping a ‘secret’ in the sauce. In-and-Out created a unique sauce which is an art and marketed it as a secret sauce then they left the reproduction of the sauce, which is a craft, to their franchisees.
    Rather than applying another marketing gimmick by making some aspect of a production ‘secret,’ create a new and unique product that is worth keeping a secret. Eliminate the revivals, eliminate the shows that depend on known stars. Do no more movie reproductions. It’s time Broadway gets back to the “ART” it is known for and let the show market itself.

  • Lila Tremaine says:

    They have this at Jamba Juice. There’s a whole secret menu. But unlike with In N Out burger, the items on it aren’t on the “real” menu because they don’t fit with the chain’s image: http://www.examiner.com/chain-restaurant-in-national/the-jamba-juice-secret-menu

  • Michael says:

    If the secret of markting plays is secrets, the secret of playwrighting itself is also secrets. Letting the audience in on secrets that the characters don’t know (and keeping them on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen when they find out) has been working for a couple thousand years. The audience in ancient Greece went in knowing what Oedipus did not–that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Today we feel the same way when Scarlet says in the first scene “Fiddle-dee-dee, there isn’t going to be a war,” or we see people cheerfully boarding the Titanic.

  • Camila says:

    I found a few of the Godspell secrets (on the website) or at least i think they are…
    I was hoping that this new cool idea you’ve mentioned would include the jackets in following picture at the merch store – pretty please -:
    Or you could just -secretly- give ’em to me, o man!!! *i’m doing the Jedi Mind Trick*…and…it’s working, I can just tell. 🙂

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