Duxler Tire, a suburban Chicago chain of auto repair shops, recently began selling gas from one of their locations. It was a brilliant business move, designed from the beginning to drive word of mouth and recommendation for their core business.
The gas is five cents a gallon less than competitors. t's full service – pump, clean windows, and offer to check fluids and tires. At the end, your receipt is delivered with a genuine smile and a piece of candy, box of popcorn, or biscuit for your pooch.
You can guess what's happened. All the neighbors talk to each other about how great Duxler is. They review the business on Yelp (“Such a treat, I feel like a queen when I go for a fill up!). They talk to the pump attendant about their car issues. And the service bays are constantly filled, in a way they never were before the pumps arrived.
More and more brands, businesses, and organizations – from the local repair shop to large multinationals, are successfully putting word of mouth at the center of their marketing mix. They think about how they want to be talked about and recommended, and they build their service or product around it. Their PR, their advertising, and their promotions all support those messages. But it's not just a marketing play. These brands know that other aspects of their business, like customer service or product development, also have to reflect how they want to be recommended. Their HR team thinks about how they want employees talking to prospects. Their R&D team asks and listens to consumers when developing new products or services. After all, they want them recommended right out of the gate.
Keep an eye out. More and more brands are getting with the program. They're becoming recommendable by design.
Paul Rand (@paulmrand) is the president and CEO of Zócalo Group, a word of mouth, social, and digital marketing agency and a division of Omnicom Group and Ketchum.