Turn things upside down: How to get your customers to talk about you

Spaghetti Want your customers to create some buzz for you?  Turn something upside down. 

We find comfort in conformity.  The "it always happens this way" comfort.  Which is exactly why we can’t stop ourselves from talking when someone flips things on us.


Phil Romano, the founder of Romano Concepts and Eatzi’s Market & Bakery, understood this. His place was always packed on Mondays and Tuesdays, which is normally a dead night for restaurants.

How’d he do it?

On a randomly chosen Monday or Tuesday, 200+ customers received a letter instead of a bill. The letter stated that because the restaurant’s mission was to make people feel like guests – it didn’t seem right to charge them for their food. Once a month, unannounced, this happened.

He comped meals one night a month, but he had a full house eight nights a month when all the other restaurants in town were empty. And, he got all of that word of mouth advertising for free!

What could you turn upside down?

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9 comments on “Turn things upside down: How to get your customers to talk about you

  1. I could tell you, but this is a family-friendly blog :=)

    Seriously … I think the question is how do we “delight and surprise” our customers and clients?

    For example, my online store’s return policy is generous, probably to a fault. But one of the things I strive to do is when the return comes in, it gets an immediate, same-day credit – and I email the receipt to the customer. THAT surprises and delights.

    No arguments and a fast refund. What’s not to like about that?

  2. Roberta,

    Yes….surprise and delight. A heady combination when we get it right.

    The trick, I think is to do something that is so odd, funny, remarkable — whatever matches your brand that they cannot help but talk about it.

    A powerful return policy is probably a huge surprise to your customers. They’re used to waiting or being hassled.

    And e-mail me what you couldn’t put in your comment! 🙂


  3. I enjoyed reading the post – thanks Drew. Word of mouth marketing is powerful! Your story made me think of woot.com, who offers a random bag o’ crap for $1. Most of the time is stuff like pencils or a 50 cent dog tag necklace but once in a while they send something really nice like a 61″ HDTV in the bag. The story about the tv was picked up on digg and got a great reaction from customers. (I counted 130 exclamation points in a customer’s post at the woot forums about getting one.)

  4. Jim Kukral says:

    Drew, love your blog, keep it up!

  5. John,

    You are very right about the simplicity of the idea. It makes it easy to replicate and remember.

    Both key elements in really cementing the customer experience.


  6. Matt,

    Great story — thanks for sharing it. Boy, you talk about creating buzz AND creating demand for bags of left over crap that you can’t sell but you don’t want to just throw away.



  7. Jim,

    Thanks for the pat on the back. With comments like that — you should come by more often! 🙂


  8. Marie,

    I’ve often wondered why we are fooled by retail pricing strategies. We all know them, recognize them and yet…fall for them!

    There’s a psychology at play there, for sure!


  9. Dubliss says:

    Drew – what do you think about a live support button on a retail website and for support to new parents?

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