Ted Wright knows a thing or two about marketing. The founder and chief executive officer of Fizz Corp., an Atlanta-based marketing firm, is an expert on the unlimited benefits of the seemingly infallible word-of-mouth marketing efforts. Wright explains that one of the most important things is to be interesting. “Make it really interesting or don’t do it at all,” he says. “Unless you’re going to be really interesting or relevant, they’re not going to show up.” Though it’s one of the oldest forms of marketing, Wright discusses five tips on how to capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing efforts that will build your brand while simultaneously identifying potential customers.
1. Know your influencers. “The reality is one North American customer tells the other nine what to buy in every category you can imagine,” Wright says. These influencers always are seeking out stories they can share with their friends, he explains. A bar owner needs to be tapping into this network. If this is done correctly, a bar or club will see a tremendous amount of growth. “Influencers have three particular traits,” Wright says. They like to try new things because they’re new, they love to share stories with their friends and they’re motivated more by experience than by money, he says.
2. Advertising, as we know it, doesn’t always work. “Advertising in the broad sense is ineffective,” Wright says, noting that doing the same type of advertising — whether it’s on taxis in New York, buying space in Time Out magazines or using the concierge at local hotels — “doesn’t work anymore.” Why? Because “everyone is doing it,” he adds. And when everyone is doing it, it becomes “undifferentiated.” You have to find your influencers so people will pay attention and recognize your message. Although times are changing and advertising is evolving, Wright advises bar and club owners not to get distracted. “Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen overnight,” he says. “There is no such thing as overnight long-term success. (It takes) work and time because stories spread at an organic rate.”
3. Be disciplined in your marketing efforts. Wright says the “cacophonous noise that has bled together (from outside advertisers) becomes white noise.” Venue owners should be using their regular patrons to draw in outside crowds. They’re your best avenue to attract new customers to your establishment. There’s a discipline to word-of-mouth marketing efforts, Wright explains. “What you have to do is ask yourself, ‘Is what I’m spending my marketing money against, will that create a conversation? Who will be interested in it? To those that are interested, who will they share that conversation with?’”
4. Every story has three compelling pieces. Wright says there are three crucial elements to every advertising story. It has to be interesting, relevant to customers’ friends or who they’re having a discussion with and authentic to how customers understand the category. Remember, he says, “your influencers are always seeking out stories they can share with friends” so, as a bar owner, you should come up with a story that is interesting, relevant and authentic. Wright reiterates that you have to have your story right, and you have to be tough about your story, especially in how relevant and authentic is it.
5. Guests are paying for an experience. “Every time someone comes into your bar, they’re having that experience. They’re coming in to have that experience their friends have,” Wright says. “If they’re coming into your bar, it’s a valuable experience to them, and they’ll pay to have that experience.” Part of having an unforgettable experience is about the story and the brand your bar is projecting. Wright says if you claim to have artisanal cocktails but sell Sex on the Beach cocktails made with well spirits, guests will feel hoodwinked and won’t pay $12 for a drink. People will spend money if they’re getting what they came for. If not, they will blacklist your bar, he says.