The age-old marketing question is “How do you get people to talk about your product or service?” Said another way, “How do I create a story or experience that will promote word of mouth marketing” I believe the answer lies in being able to change the way your customer thinks about your offering.
As consumers, we have an expectation of the way things should be. When our expectations are met, we don’t think twice. For example, most utility companies do an excellent job keeping the power on. If you switched on a wall switch and the lights came on, you wouldn’t call a friend and tell them. After all, you got what you expected. However, when something falls outside that expectation, our brain takes notice.
I bought a new SUV for my wife some time back. As is typical, we did our research and found a make and model that met my wife’s needs, went to our local dealer and picked out a vehicle from the dozens on their lot-nothing remarkable. We left the dealership to grab a bite while they got the paperwork ready and went to the bank to get a cashier’s check.
When we arrived back at the dealership and walked into the showroom, there it was in the middle of the showroom with a huge red ribbon on the car and a single rose in the driver’s seat. The experience was completely unexpected and even though my wife had driven the exact vehicle not two hours earlier, she could not hold back tears of joy. Can you guess how many people my wife called over the following few days to tell them about this unexpected experience? As you can see, creating an unexpected experience is key to word of mouth marketing.
Skip’s Kitchen in Carmichael CA is a small family neighborhood restaurant. Their menu is about what you might expect from a small family eatery and as typical with many fast-food restaurants, you order food from the counter, seat yourself and when your order is ready a staff member delivers your order to the table. Pretty pedestrian and unremarkable except for one thing.
After you place your order at the counter but before you pay, the cashier reaches for a deck of playing cards, fans them out and says “Pick a card”. If you pick a joker from the deck, your meal is free. Whatever card you picked is placed in a table stand that you take to your seat and recorded with your order so the server knows where to deliver your order when it is ready.
The use of playing cards as your order identifier serves to reinforce the fact that you had a chance to get a free meal. If someone wins you can imagine the excitement. Every day, hundreds take to social media and share their unexpected restaurant experience even if they don’t win a free meal.
It should be noted that Skip’s Kitchen has never spent a dime on advertising and relies entirely on word of mouth for its success and was rated #29 by in the top 50 best burger joints in America in a 2017 report by Foursquare. By creating an experience that is unexpected Skip’s Restaurant created a shareable experience to create a word of mouth epidemic.
How can you change the way your customer thinks about your product or service so they will share it?
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