The secret to word of mouth marketing: No one person behind the curtain can do it all

 
April 15, 2013 | by Jitendra Gupta

In 1939, few movie characters were scarier than the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion were terrified by the specter of the Wizard’s floating head, his snarling expression and booming voice.

Everyone except Toto. The little Cairn Terrier knew the Wizard was a fraud, and he pulled back the curtain to reveal an ordinary man multitasking manically, pulling levers and pressing buttons to convince others—and maybe himself—that he was actually accomplishing something.

Ever feel like that with your social media marketing: trying to do too much at once and never really getting anywhere? You can try and pull the Twitter lever and push the Facebook button, and heaven knows you’d like to use Oz’s flame machine on some Yelp reviewers. But you can’t do it all effectively while running a restaurant.

Hiring others to manage those initiatives is an option, but even if it generates some online buzz, it’s hard to tell whether those Twitter, Facebook and email campaigns are bringing customers through the door. If they are, how do you know who those people are, why they visited and what they like about your place when you have no direct means of engaging them?

Having that vital customer information is crucial for two reasons: It provides quantifiable data that determines your return on your digital marketing investments, and it allows you to engage those customers personally, in ways that get them talking about your business. Trying to influence them while hiding behind the curtain doesn’t work in the high-touch restaurant business.

To make it all work, you need a coordinated and automated solution that merely requires operator oversight, not management. You’re the restaurant operator, and you’re already busy pulling levers and pushing buttons that make your business run. That solution must address the varied needs of your wide range of customers, such as the fictional but realistic characters mentioned in my last blog

Online Oliver: the correct solution would provide him the nearest location of his favorite restaurant and supply offers and specials to his smartphone when he’s close by.

Chatty Cathy: Since she already shares with all her online friends, the right solution would provide a channel through which she could communicate directly with her favorite restaurant brand as well.

Loyalty Lisa: She doesn’t want to evaluate her rewards on paper punch cards or swipe cards readable only at the POS. The right solution for her is a real-time reward update on her smartphone, plus personalized rewards based on her already established purchase patterns.

Ron the Reviewer: While Ron’s tedious reviews may get limited readership, the right solution would reward him for taking the time to air his opinion. If his review is negative, the solution would also provide the operator the means to communicate with him directly and offer a token of appreciation for keeping the place on its toes. When it’s a good review and it draws his friends to that restaurant, you know good and well he gets a reward.

The Wizard of Oz thought he was the stuff until Toto exposed his magical powers as mere smoke and mirrors. Yet even if he’d employed a regimen of Winkies to press buttons and pull levers, the man behind the curtain would still be the same: Powerless, ineffective and disengaged from the citizens of Emerald City.

Restaurateurs often are similarly disengaged from their customers because they’re so busy managing the myriad details of their business. But when equipped with the right marketing automation platform, they’re freed to engage those customers in ways that build loyal relationships and grow their sales.

For more specifics on such a marketing automation platform, check out my other blog.


Topics: Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Online / Mobile / Social , Operations Management


Jitendra Gupta / Jitendra Gupta is CEO of Punchh, a mobile CRM suite that includes branded mobile apps for campaigns, games, loyalty, online ordering, payments, referrals, reviews, gift cards, surveys, and integrates with social networks and operators’ POS systems to gather 360° customer insights. Punchh helps restaurants increase same store sales and profitability by driving repeat visits, word of mouth, new customer referrals, and higher returns from marketing campaigns.
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