• Send them home with something. Send folks out of your restaurant with a unique doggy bag, a T-shirt, some dessert to share — anything that will help them tell the next people they see about you.
  • Offer a secret menu item. Offer a dish or special drink that only insiders know about. It will not only make them feel special, but will also give them something to share with their friends.
  • Put it on the wall. Put things on the wall that will encourage customers to bring their friends to show them. Try taking pictures of your best customers, having a “wall of fame,” or allowing them to use personalized mugs.
  • Host special events. Find key groups of talkers and invite them to meet in your restaurant. Try hosting a quarterly gathering for wedding planners, or hosting meetings for groups that come together frequently, such as the Boy Scouts.
  • Create a holiday. Whether you go all out for a traditional holiday or you create your own — bring people to your place for a celebration. White Castle came up with a great spin on Valentine’s Day by creating “Love Castle,” where folks are encouraged to make reservations and bring their significant others for a candlelit dinner.

Image credit, webphotographeer, via iStock

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21 Responses to “Andy’s top 5 word-of-mouth tips for restaurants”

  1. [...] SmartBlog On Social Media » Andy’s top 5 word-of-mouth tips for restaurants smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2009/08/25/andys-top-5-word-of-mouth-tips-for-restaurants – view page – cached * Send them home with something. Send folks out of your restaurant with a unique doggy bag, a T-shirt, some dessert to share — anything that will help them tell the next people they see about you. — From the page [...]

  2. [...] SmartBlog On Social Media » Andy’s top 5 word-of-mouth tips for restaurants smartblogs.com/socialmedia/2009/08/25/andys-top-5-word-of-mouth-tips-for-restaurants – view page – cached * Send them home with something. Send folks out of your restaurant with a unique doggy bag, a T-shirt, some dessert to share — anything that will help them tell the next people they see about you. — From the page [...]

  3. Brian J King says:

    Interesting post. What do you think about using ppc marketing for restaurants? Difficult to track conversion rates IMHO although working w/ a client now that's interested.

    Some input would be appreciated. Please help! http://twitter.com/brianjking

    Send me an @ msg if you can help me w/ some tips. Cheers!

  4. D. Rawls says:

    Andy;

    Must admit I expected much more of this SmartBrief when I scurried to open it in hopes there would be contemporary genius which I would be able to share with my successful restaurant concept client.

    Unfortunately, I find your recommendations bland and immeritous, and definitely far from "Top " status.

    In today's digital age, there is no better way to get the word out about what is going on at your restaurant than social media tools. At Baltimore Crab & Seafood/Pearl Restaurant & Lounge in Atlanta, we use Twitter to keep our followers abreast of what is going on. We tweet our daily events and specials, and we also tweet when celebrity guests are on hand.

    Other things we do to drive Word of Mouth is promote novelty items (for instance we recently toyed with adding a 'stripper pole' to our patio area). Speaking to your customers about how you plan on upgrading the environment is vital, as over half of our customers are "regulars". We also have the 'Walk of Fame' on random nights, to let guests honor our servers, kitchen and wait staff with kudos via autographed golden stars which we later use for drawings amongst employees for quarterly incentive bonuses.

    Don't be too editor at large, Andy. Some SmartBrief readers really seek value here.

    Your able professional,

    D. Rawls

  5. teddy Gorey says:

    Hi Andy:

    I've been in the restaurant biz a long time and a social media "pro" suggested reading your column.

    I have to say I agree with you, especially your so-labelled 'old-fashioned" suggestions… they ALWAYS work because people always want to be remembered in a personal way.

    Thanks for this!

  6. Trevor says:

    I agree with D. Rawls for the most part. I was expecting a couple of these tried and true tips to be here, but was hoping there would be at least one or two gems that would make my eyes pop. I was sadly disappointed after reading these “top” tips.

    Trevor

  7. [...] find out what these five items mean, visit Andy’s post here. Share and [...]

  8. But translate a few of the tips above into social media specifically, and they get more meaningful:

    * Tweet about your meal and we’ll give you a treat the next time you come in

    * Print customer’s tweets about the restaurant on the menu or write them on the specials board

    * Secret menu items for Twitter followers only

    * Collect Twitter names with the check and then thank them the next day on Twitter for coming in

    * RT their comments about your restaurant, of course

    * Invite your most frequent tweeters in for a thank-you meal, maybe with a special guest, like the chef, or a popular local food blogger

  9. Jackie K says:

    I agree w/the comments that this is not the most innovative list I have ever seen. Hey, where is Facebook when you talk word of mouth? I see Erika covered Twitter.

    What about bring a friend incentives? Free appetizer coupon for your friend?

    Hey, what about GREAT SERVICE and GREAT FOOD! There’s a concept : )

    P.S.: I want to know more about the dude w/the stripper pole. What’s up w/that?

  10. I like the tips, I agree with other who say word of mouth can go via social media tools for additional spread.

    I'd like to add one – give people a surprise, something that matches the style your business and evokes a memory or emotion. At one restaurant I went to earlier this year – a fairly upmarket restaurant – coffee came with lollipops. http://changememe.com/2009/05/27/its-all-about-th

  11. Yeah, some of these are common sense and already used. Here’s an idea though:
    reach out to local prominent bloggers and see if they’d like to try the place out. They’d receive a $20 or $25 discount card and a sample menu. And you’d tell that they can come in any time. Most restaurants have discount or gift cards so there will be no way of knowing when some is a blogger.

    They’d come in, try out the place, and then write a review for their readers. And the readers will often be people like they are – parents, young singles, foodie types, etc.

    If a restaurant reached out to 15-20 bloggers for this, it could get them great exposure – albeit with a risk.

  12. [...] “Find key groups of talkers and invite them to meet in your restaurant,” he adds. More: SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The New media versus the old mediaTop industries [...]

  13. Oto Hlincik says:

    Hi Andy,

    another way restaurants can better market themselves is to use a “word-of-mouse”. They can actually tap into their best patrons who will leave recommendations for their restaurant on Diningverse. This will propel their restaurant listing to the top of the local area where their restaurant is located. The recommendations will be also automatically sent to the patrons’ friends (or Diningverse buddies) who can then visit the restaurant or add it to one of their lists (personal directories). The options are boundless. Additionally, the restaurant can also post their full menus, photos and anything else they would like everyone to see (all in one place in a nice, simple, easy to use, standardized format). The best thing is…. Diningverse is for local, independently-owned restaurants only (so that people have an easy way to find the local dining gems). There are about 10,000 local restaurants across the US now listed on http://diningverse.com with a ton of recommendations.

  14. Very boring list. yawwwn. We’re already doing most of this. I was forwarded this by a marketing friend and was expecting something with more bite to it. Great Twitter comments. Here’s an alternative that we are developing this week.

    We are posting short videos of our chef making a “special of the week” and our bartender making a “drink of the week”. We’re posting these out on You Tube, and linking them into our Twitter announcements and FaceBook status updates. The comment will be “See this week’s special concoction. Come in for the real thing and mention where you saw it and receive $$$ off!”

    Just my two cents, but I’m a new restauranteer and very new to this social media stuff (granted marketing degree hanging on the wall) and I have more savvy ideas than this site.

  15. Those are some good tips, and I think the focus here is fist on the customer experience. One needs to make that experience at the restaurant enjoyable. So enjoyable that they leave with your restaurant brand attached.

    When that happens they spread the word. But there are of course things that can be done with the new tech and social networking medium to add to that experience.

  16. [...] 5 ways restaurants can generate buzz [...]

  17. I agree with Teddy – these are top tips – leveraging the in-restaurant experience to generate more fun while there and specific “special” value and bragging rights.

    I consult with many consumer-serving local biz including restaurants and do rec Twitter-based contests (describe 5 successful examples at How We Partner) yet know that most brick and mortar biz owners don’t even attempt to get emails or track spending so they can coddle their top 5% biggest spenders….

    Kudos for these ideas Andy

  18. [...] I wrote a series of tips to create buzz for your restaurant using some great offline tools and tactics. Once you’ve found the topics that are [...]

  19. Jo Ann says:

    I really like your tips.I have a couple of my own.I live in Scottsdale Az where a lot of restaurants do a great job of using your suggestions.Others ,some now closed,have servers on their cell phones and no one even looks up when customers walk in.Also,I love bar dining alone and please don’t say JUST 1 when a paying customer enters.I love special events and go to several a month.ScottsdaleNP

  20. Sorry but these are far from being “top tips”. These are amateurish at best and two are just plain dumb. They are also just tactics (bad ones) in search of a strategy.

    This is the type of article and lowest common denominator thinking you get from people whose only expertise in the restaurant and hospitality business is from eating out a lot and staying in a few hotel rooms. It’s like hiring a plumber to do your electrical work.

    Fortunately, I’m a big fan of yours Andy but stick with the big-picture thinking or industries you know.

    As for the comments: Coupons and gift cards? Are you serious?

    Continuing to treat the guest as a transaction or just pretending to understand the guest experience is not the recipe for future success in our industry.

  21. [...] I wrote a series of tips to create buzz for your restaurant using some great offline tools and tactics. Once you’ve found the topics that are consistently [...]