Word of mouth doesn’t equal shining reviews day in and day out. Ken Burgin offers five ways you can command the conversation about your business.
Many people assume ‘word of mouth’ works automatically and that it’s always positive. As if people will say the nicest things without you making any effort. Sorry, that’s not going to happen! And word of mouth can also be negative – “OMG did you hear that place got a food poisoning fine, and they’ve been underpaying their chefs?”
However, there are ways to guarantee that people have a lot to talk about and that you rise above the sameness of other places having their six months of fame. It starts with the promises you make; if they’re too flamboyant, you’re asking for disappointment. Claiming to have ‘Adelaide’s best dessert menu’ implies a 10/10 experience, so what happens when customers enjoy it but only feel it’s worth 8/10? In other situations, 8/10 is a great result, but here they have been disappointed. Under-promise so you over-deliver.
Here are five sure ways you can put word of mouth marketing on automatic, ticking over each day and giving people lots to share with their friends.
1. DESIGN IS THE FIRST
Does your place look wonderful, or quirky, or unusual? Does it have some features like no-one else? It could be beautiful lamps or mirrors, or original paintings like Lucio’s Restaurant in Paddington, Sydney, or have wonderful views or a garden courtyard or old fireplaces with real fires. Something that lifts it beyond the average and gets people to take out their phone and snap a photo to put on Instagram or Snapchat, making their friends a little jealous. What can you add that’s bigger, brighter and bolder?
2. SPEED AND MOVEMENT ARE NEXT
They’re the opposite of slow and boring. Most times we don’t want to be rushed, but if we only have 30 minutes for lunch, the place that can seat, serve and take our payment in 25 minutes is the one we will tell all our friends about. Or a place with a visible kitchen and chefs flaming food and calling orders. Or where the cocktail bar is alive with action as drinks are built, shaken and served with flare – have you been to that place? You can design in these features, but make sure you don’t sacrifice service.
3. GENEROSITY IS A SURE-FIRE WORD OF MOUTH PROMOTER
Did you see those family-size pizzas loaded with toppings? Not like the $10 special that disappointed us last week. Help yourself at the amazing seafood buffet and your wine by the glass is filled to half full, not just a mean little puddle. It also works in the community – people hear about your generous support for community groups, apprentice competitions and homeless relief programs.
4. GREAT FLAVOURS DRIVE CHATTER
Australians like big, bold tastes and textures. The famous strawberry watermelon cake at Black Star Pastry, or the hot, spicy coconut laksa at your favourite Malaysian place. The IPA ales that a new craft brewery creates or that delicate Victorian Pinot Gris you serve by the glass. Memorable.
5. INSIDE INFORMATION IS YOUR FINAL WORD OF MOUTH BOOSTER
With the crazy growth of TV food shows, cooking classes and social media, everyone loves to know what’s happening back of house. Where the beef comes from (and why you changed suppliers), how you get such intense flavours in the dessert, and where the pastry chef was trained. And with that $20,000 oven you’ve just installed – offer a sneaky kitchen tour when the rush dies down. And is that Justin the head chef talking to guests? Wait till I tell my friends!
Ken Burgin is founder of Profitable Hospitality, profitablehospitality.com