5 Ways to Drive Word of Mouth Marketing for a Cafe or Restaurant

Many people assume ‘word of mouth’ works automatically, and 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 you rise above the sameness of other new 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 feels 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 the 5 sure ways you can put Word of Mouth marketing on automatic, ticking over each day and giving people lots to share with their friends.

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 filled with original paintings like Lucio’s Restaurant in Paddington. Or have wonderful views or a garden courtyard, an old fireplaces with real fires or a big bowl of fresh fruit (like the picture below). Something that lifts it beyond the average and, these days, gets people to take out their phone and snap a photo. Up onto Instagram or Snapchat, making their friends a little jealous. What can you add that’s bigger, brighter and bolder?

Speed and Movement is next – it’s 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 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.

Generosity is a sure-fire WOM 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 buffet, and your wine by the glass is filled to half full, not just a mean little puddle.

This also works in the community – people hear about your consistent support for community groups, apprentice training, recycling programs and homeless relief. Make sure they acknowledge your contribution.

Great Flavours drive word of mouth – 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 are way better than the beer giants, or that delicate Victorian pinot gris you serve by the glass. Memorable.

Inside Information is your final WOM booster – with the crazy growth of TV food shows, cooking classes and social photos, 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 customers? Wait till I tell my friends!

Fresh quinces are an unusual thing to find in a cafe, and sure to be something that food-loves notice…