Number 6: Give ’em Something to Talk About

The Top 10 Things I’ve Learned About Restaurant Marketing

NUMBER SIX: If you want people to talk about you, give them something to talk about.

I love it when people say, “We need to get more PR,” as though it is a commodity on the shelf that you can buy like another radio spot. The truth is, if you don’t give people something specific and concrete to talk about, they have nothing to say.

I think that’s the real reason negative word of mouth seems to be more prevalent than positive word of mouth. It’s easier to talk about because it is specific and concrete and something that connects emotionally with guests…it’s something people can and want to talk about. Sometimes it’s real and sometimes it’s contrived.

Years ago I did a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the building our original Max & Erma’s was in…I know it’s a stretch. But the fact that, ironically, Willard Scott was in town that day broadcasting the weather for the Today Show managed to get us a free mention.

Sometimes it’s as simple as the size of the menu item–really, really big like the Great Wall of Chocolate at PF Chang’s, or really, really small like the shot glass desserts at Seasons 52.

With the advent of digital media, this simple concept is even more important because digital media is just that…it’s “media”…marketers have to provide the CONTENT. You still have to give your customers something specific and concrete to talk about. If you don’t, digital media runs the risk of being just another better and faster way to transmit (and broadcast) guest complaints.

The content creates the “engagement,” which is the emotional connection that transcends using digital media just for couponing. For example,

  • Hardee’s new breakfast product temporarily being called “Biscuit Holes” seeks to engage customers by having them offer a better name.
  • KFC intends for the Colonel to remain the face of the brand, but is searching for the Ultimate KGC Fan on MySpace.

Until next time, let me know your thoughts.