Recently Ben McConnell (Church of the Customer) shared his perspective on the distinction between Word-of-Mouth (WOM) and Buzz. (It’s a good read.)
His post rekindled some of my thoughts on Creationist WOM vs. Evolutionist WOM (video clip). The Creationist WOM marketing mindset is about making the marketing activity something to talk about as in attention-grabbing stunts and gimmicks. The Evolutionist WOM mindset is about making a company’s products, services, and or experiences worth talking about.
Creationist WOM marketers believe Word-of-Mouth just a marketing issue. While, Evolutionist WOM marketers believe Word-of-Mouth is an everyday business issue.
We’ve seen Creationist WOM theory at work recently with Denny’s stunt of giving away 2-million Grand Slam breakfasts for free and all the gimmicky commercials shown during the Super Bowl.
Specific instances of Evolutionist WOM theory at work are more difficult to notice. That’s because these marketing activities are not supposed to be easily noticed by customers. These activities are simply how a business does business. It’s less about marketing and more about how an interesting business operates everyday.
There’s a burger joint in Austin, TX that brilliantly practices Evolutionist WOM thinking — Mighty Fine Hamburgers.
No stunts. No gimmicks. No one-off marketing ploys. All Mighty Fine does is earn opinions by serving up remarkable burgers in remarkable ways.
Let me count some of these remarkable ways.
#1 – The Queue
Total cattle call. I’ve never been to Mighty Fine when the queue wasn’t at least 10 people deep. You go expecting
to wait in line. Anticipation heightens the senses. Besides, long lines that move fast mean a restaurant is doing something right, right
#2 – Fun Language
If you want Mustard, you gotta say, “Yeller.” “Red” gets you Ketchup and “White” gets you Mayonnaise. Mighty Fine could have gone the common, boring route with Mustard, Ketchup, and Mayonnaise. They didn’t. They decided to make the common uncommon. So uncommon that it’s worth talking about.
#3 – Service
Ask a Mighty Fine employee behind the counter how they’re doing and you’ll likely hear, “Mighty Fine.” They smile. They laugh. They look like they are having fun. Which all benefits the customer experience. Mighty Fine prides itself on hiring only “A Players” who are positive, supportive, and cooperative. To attract “A Players,” they pay above-average wages and offer much better than expected benefits. Mighty Fine knows by astonishing employees, they in turn, will astonish customers.
#4 – Assurance
When placing your order, the Mighty Fine employee writes all your requests directly on the bag. To close the order, the employee again goes over everything with you to best ensure you get exactly the burger you ordered. This process takes time but I’m sure it cuts down on mistakes. As a customer, I appreciate the thoroughness because it brings about assurance.
#5 – Picnic Tables
Old-school family-style picnic tables. Nothing fancy. Nothing fancy needed at a burger joint. This family-style seating makes it comfortable for all ages and helps to encourage conversations between customers from different parties.
#6 – Theater
Taking a page from Krispy Kreme's doughnut theater, Mighty Fine lifts the veil on some of their prep work. The window is wide open for everyone to see the ground chuck getting hand-formed into patties. The krinkle-cut fry cutter is always-on with an employee shooting whole potatoes down the cutting chute. The hamburger cooking and shake-making stations are just behind the counter for everyone to see. Mighty Fine has nothing to hide. It’s operations are in full view of every customer. (Unlike most burger joints.)
#7 – Quality
100% natural beef. Ground in-store. Hand-formed in-store. Fresh cut crinkle-cut fries. Sea Salt is the only salt used. Custom-made beef franks. Hand-dipped and hand-spun milkshakes. Quality is everything to Mighty Fine because they believe quality ingredients produce the tastiest food. (Hard to argue with Mighty Fine here.)
#8 – Smiles
Everywhere you look customers are having a good time. I’m a touch cynical; however, my cynicism subsides when inside Mighty Fine. A good hamburger in a family-friendly setting appeals to young, old, and everyone in-between. (Including this hardened marketer.)
#9 – Mighty Tasty
My Dad is a burger aficionado. In his nearly 75 years, Al Moore has cooked and eaten a lot of burgers. He’s burger expert if there could be one. After visiting Mighty Fine in January, he’s been talking about it with his circle of friends. I asked him what he tells people about Mighty Fine and this is what he says, “The place is awesome. Lots of production people, each knowing their job. The product is even more awesome — a top-notch hamburger. To my surprise, the family-style works. I’ll be back.” That’s one helluva endorsement.
#10 – Job Recruitment
Instead of a pamphlet by the soda machine to attract new hires, Mighty Fine uses a classic grocery store number dispenser like we used to use at the butcher counter. This dispenser is prominently located in the entry/exit way area for potential new hires to see going in and going out. A sign above the dispenser says, “Apply Now.” You pull the ticket and it directs you to a website to learn more information and to apply online. Again, Mighty Fine is simply making the common uncommon. Nice touch.
#11 – Clean Hands
It’s a “jacuzzi for your hands.” That’s what the hand washer says used at Mighty Fine. It’s the same hand washer employees use, so you know it is more sanitary than the common hand sink washer. Kids clamor to use this hand jacuzzi. Parents are always seen lifting up their kids in order for their hands to fit inside the washer. Of course, parents use it too because it’s just so unique you have to use it. Yet again … another way Mighty Fine takes something common and makes it so uncommon it's worth talking about.
Every one of these 11 examples are WOM-worthy. Each one showcases how Mighty Fine turns mundane business matters into something so special that they earn opinions from customers. Because these activities earn opinions, people talk. And because people talk, there is always a line at Mighty Fine. And because there is always a line, Mighty Fine has opened a second location.
Mighty Fine doesn’t need gimmicks to get customers talking. It just does business every day in such a way that people gladly talk about it.
Mighty Fine understands the importance of Word of Mouth. How do I know? This sign displayed in the exit way tells me...