See Andy's other stuff:

RSS Feed

Follow Andy

Contact Me >>

#6.06: The “Retail Word of Mouth” Issue

How do you get customers to talk about your offline business?

   1> Ask Them
   2> Replace the matchbook
   3> Do something unusually nice

1> Ask Them

Your customers are happy to recommend you … but they probably aren’t going to remember to do it.  All you need to do is ask them. "Please tell a friend!" is the "Would you like fries with that?" for word of mouth.  Ask a bunch of ways: verbally at the checkout counter, on the printed receipt, give them a little flyer, and put a sign on the wall.  Barbara Weary, owner of our UPS Store in Chicago, puts it right on her cash register. Watch the video:

The Lesson:  Customers appreciate that you appreciate their help.

2> Replace the matchbook

Everyone used to grab a matchbook every time they left a restaurant.  It sat in our house, got passed along to friends, and started conversations.  Think about what you can hand to customers on the way out the door to start a conversation.  Refrigerator magnets, a postcard, or a free sample?  Try a great shopping bag, something that customers will keep and carry around like a walking billboard.  Take a look at these cool little fliers from Schoolyard restaurant. Each one has a special offer, a fun bit of trivia, and a very clear "Take this home" message.

The Lesson:  Pass out handouts to get the word out.



3> Do something unusually nice

In 20 years of shopping there, I’ve never had a reason to talk about CVS drugstores.  Until I asked the pharmacist where the pillboxes were, and he gave me one for free.  Why has this reason to talk about them been stuck behind the counter all these years?  What can you do for less than $1 to get people talking?  Try these: A free toy for kids, a coat check, snacks for customers, free sodas, carrying cases, collectable postcards, loaner umbrellas … anything that makes people say, "You can’t believe what they did at this store."

The Lesson:  Little surprises trigger talk.

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.


  1. Lena West August 17, 2007 at 8:21 pm #

    I can’t stress enough how nice a coat check is – especially in the winter.
    Retailers would do really well to take some of their square footage and dedicate it to a much valued customer service amenity like a coat check.
    Bloomies in NYC offers this service and from what I hear Macy’s in Chi-town has joined the bandwagon.

Get My Newsletter!

Subscribe to Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! for a weekly email full of unusually useful ideas for smart marketers. Great marketing is about brains, not bucks. The best business ideas are easy to do, inexpensive, and fun. Learn to simplify your business, earn word of mouth, and thrill your customers:

Never display this again