The Best Things in Life Are Free

Part 1 of 6: Word of Mouth

Ever since way back in the old days, businesses have enjoyed annoying the general public by using various advertising media to market their goods and services. A business would paint their name on the side of a barn by a roadside or maybe a traveling circus would fly a banner behind an airplane to create excitement. A restaurant or politician might nail posters to trees or make big signs to get your attention. Eventually, we started using electronic media like radio, TV, and internet to tell people who we are and why they should buy from our business or use our services. In almost every instance, there is a common “marketing denominator” that has helped determine the success or failure of every single business, large or small. And in a small town – I will even dare to say that no amount of advertising can replace this major “Marketing denominator” once it has begun building momentum. The “Marketing denominator” I am referring to is WORD OF MOUTH, or WOM. In a small town where everyone knows each other, word travels quickly. If people are happy, they smile and tell their friends about their great experience at a business. And conversely, if they are unhappy they’ll talk about that too - and usually, they’ll express being UNHAPPY with a lot more vigor (it’s just human nature).

Think about your 3 favorite local restaurants; the restaurants in your home town where you want to go with your spouse or a date or to just unwind on a Friday night. I’d bet that the first time you went there was NOT because of an advertisement, but because of something you heard from a friend, spouse or a co-worker or maybe you overheard some people talking. And I’ll bet the 2nd time you went there was not because of an advertisement either. Nope. You most likely went BACK because you enjoyed your 1st experience and now you want to repeat that great feeling you felt the first time you went.

If you want people to talk about your business, then you are hoping that they will do your marketing for you… and fair enough. I hope you do! But, if you want to take advantage of the most powerful marketing tool that a small-town business can use (WOM) than it’s simple, just make your business remarkable. (re·mark·a·ble rəˈmärkəb(ə)l/ adjective. Worthy of attention; striking). What does it mean to be remarkable? It means that you give people something to talk about. Is your product GREAT or average? Are you open when people need/want to use your service or not? Is there something people will find at your business that’s not available elsewhere? Is there something exciting or exceptional about your business? What makes your business unique? Seriously… what makes your business truly unique? If you expect people to talk about you, you’ve got to give them something to talk about… and it had better be positive talk, because positive talk can save you from spending more money on advertising. And there are a LOT of ways to perpetuate positive talk!

Let’s take a look at a case in point. Have you ever gone to 5-guys burgers? I went there the first time because a friend said “Hey! We gotta go to lunch at 5 guys… they’ve got the BEST FRIES ever! You gotta try ‘em”! So we went. In fact, he offered to buy because he was so excited to share this wonderful new discovery with me. …and he was right. The fries come in an overflowing cup and taste amazing! They have Idaho potato sacks piled up all around inside the restaurant (it’s a regular part of their franchise decor). Oh, and you can get a burger while you are there too. The reason I went the first time was because of WOM and the reason I went back is because they were REMARKABLE in a positive way. Are you?

Q: Have you ever seen an ad for 5-Guys Burgers? A: No, you have not. They generally don’t advertise.

5-guys success, without general advertising, took a ton of hard work, planning and vision on their part. The success of a restaurant like 5-guys is due to great marketing, not great advertising. Some businesses can use one or the other – most businesses need both.

In this series I talk about various marketing tactics and share some thoughts and insights with you. I’d like to point out that “Marketing” is a very broad term that includes any type of communication that promotes a brand, service, or product. Please understand that Advertising, PR, and face-to-face sales are loose descriptions of only 3 (of many) tactics that can be used as part of “Marketing”. Each week I will describe a few details about an individual marketing tactic and share a little experience. Do not read one week’s article and think you see the whole picture. I will always recommend using a combination of tactics, as part of a plan in order to increase visits to your business, website, event, restaurant, etc, until you have all the customers you could ever want.

Happy Marketing!


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