Encouraging Word of Mouth Advertising

Word of mouth is so important, but is there a way to increase it or promote it? We will have customers say, “The food was great as usual” or “We come here all of the time…we love your pizza.” Is there any incentive that can be given to get those customers to go and tell more people about you?

Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!


One idea you may want to think about is having some small business cards made up. Put on one side of the card “Preferred customer card” or something like that. On the other side, print an offer like “Free breadsticks with any order” or “10% off any order over $25” or “Bring a Buddy…buy one large at regular price on Monday and get a second one topping for (insert discount price)” (this can also help with slow Mondays). Everytime someone tells you how much they like the food, give them a couple of these cards to hand out to friends. This is just an idea. Maybe drop a flier in apartment complexes or neighborhoods with some offer like free breadsticks AND a free 2-liter for both orders when Neighbors both call in an order…you have to think outside the box on this one because while word of mouth is the best marketing, it is the toughest to get going, so you may need to give an incentive.

One of the problems with giving discount cards to give to their friends is… well, um, why should I give that there coupon away? Wouldn’t I be better served using it the next time I order? Even better, give me a card that offers 10% off MY next order if this card is used… great, now I get free breadsticks AND my next order is 10% off. Perhaps I’m the oddball and always look for discounts. However, most people have a choice between money and honesty and most choose money. Just my humble opinion of course.

Good point…I was trying to get the creative juices flowing, so maybe this needs some more thinking and revising…What if you make it a “bring a friend” card with some benefit to both parties. I am a bigger advocate of offering things like free drinks or side items than cash discounts…they cost you less than a cash discount, have a higher perceived value (menu price) and also get some people to try things they may not normally order, and the hope is to create a new favorite item they will add to future orders…say like desserts or something like that. Now that we are thinking, what are some ideas you can come up with? As mentioned , getting word of mouth is no easy task, so let’s see what we can come up with as a group.

If you have the card so the customer who gives out the card puts his name and phone number on the back to be placed in a draw for a weekly free meal. This would work best if you have the new customers info on the front.

Tom, that’s what it’s all about… bouncing ideas off each other and looking for thoughts and feedback. I’d much rather someone shoot holes in my theory before implementation than after I lose money. Again, perhaps I’m just a little more “creatively dishonest” than the average customer, but the best tests of security come from those who aren’t so honest.

Make up a post card. “2 FREE PIZZAS” 1 for you and 1 for your neighbor. When your neighbor orders his free pizza we will mail you a certificate for one of your own. Thanks for being a LOYAL Customer!

Make it out to be a “LOYALTY” thing.


I just started to do this on postcards that I mail out to the database. There are 3 coupon sections, side by side. The middle one is a referral card. There’s a space for name, address, phone number and it is good for a free family size salad with the purchase of any pizza. The card says “Have a friend use this coupon and we’ll give you a FREE pizza.”

Having to put the address and phone in, as well as having other coupons on the same card, cuts down on the existing customer from using it.

It’s the center coupon because when they cut it out, the existing customer’s address is printed on the back. Then we mail out a certificate for the free pizza to them.

Who was the first person on the moon? Who was the second? Who was the first person to fly a plane? who was the second? No body talks about something that has already been done! You want word of mouth advertising? Do something that no one else in your area has done before maybe its as simple as a “beat the clock” promo or as elaborate as renting a helicopter and deliverying pizza to some one or some sort of outrages stunt. This year I am renting a huge movie screen and puting on a FREE drive in movie in my parking lot. I am thinking about 400 people will show up (100 cars 4 people in each car, Just a wild guess) There are lots of ways to get people talking about you in a positive way just be the first to do it!

What have you found as far as companies that rent the screens and movies? My parking lot isn’t configured very well for something like that, but I do know of a church parking lot not too far away that this would probably work for as long as we kept the movie in line as a family event. Setting up a booth and sell some pizza there, and promote it as a community event might work out well.

Permit. Insurance. Movie royalty.
Just some thoughts.

There are ways to do it, but you can’t just set up a screen and show a movie! We do something like this as a fundraiser for school, and there’s a company that handles the movie fee properly, but you need to know your insurance is OK with an “event” like this too.

Our Chamber of Commerce built a mobile screen on their community events trailer so that is what I use. I would think that most audio video equipment rental places would have large screens for rent, that is where I would look first.

Maybe canadian laws are different but if you dont charge anything there are no royaltys and as far as insurance goes why would I need more then my regular liability insurance?

If you are renting a commercial copy of a movie the royalties are already built in…If you are showing a rental from the local video store you can get in trouble…Just ask the local school who wanted to have a fundraising night by showing Disney videos…The “Micky Mouse” police caused them grief…RCS…

“Do something that no one else in your area has done before maybe its as simple as a “beat the clock” promo”

Great ideas Pizzaguy. Thinking of trying these same types of promos in my area. I actually thought about utilizing text messaging through mymobilecast.com to send out alerts to people’s cell phones with the locations for pop up drive in movies, and serving pizza there. Kinda like the kids are into the pop up/last minute rave parties. Also thinking about doing the “beat the clock” time sensitive promos with text message marketing.

I like the postcard ideas, but have a big problem with the printing costs in my area. .20 cents per alert vs. several dollars per postcard will be better for me.

Yes indeed. Encouraging word of mouth advertising is difficult to instill into other people who would just as much take the freebie for themselves. What about this idea which has worked in hotels and motels, and perhaps even hospitals. It involves the “gatekeeper” who work the front desks of these large establishments. By offering the gatekeeper an incentive to suggest your product for dinner, you effectively turn him or her into a salesman.

For instance, every twenty dollars that is sold to the “West Palm Hotel” <---- completely fictional))) then two dollars will be awarded to an account for the staff at West Palm Beach. They can cash in on this account when it reaches, say, $20.00.

Unfortunately, this does not cross over to well to a residentially based plan for word of mouth advertising. Just an idea however.

some great ideas here. I have only been open about 3 and a half months. i have no advertising except a sign out front and word of mouth. Of course, I have a carryout for beer and cigs too so do not rely solely on pizza and sub sales. I add new items constantly and give some smaller versions to my every customers as samples and away it goes!!
I started with first month sales of about 12,000 total about 1/4 i n pizzas and subs, 2nd month was 31,000 total with over 1/2 in pizza and subs, with only word of mouth and about 800 menus. My start menu has been very simple just 2 sides of a regular paper $30.00 at office max to print about 400 of them. Everybody walked out the door with 3 to 4 menus. At first I ran daily specials but had to cut that to only 4 days a week. I couldn’t keep up on Fridy and Sat with the specials even though I put in a second oven after 3 weeks. I have businesses ordering from a larger city 12 miles away for parties that has a dominos , pizza hut , etc. A good quality product , even if it costs a little more, goes a long way!!!
Oh, I am in a rural town of about 8,000 people with 2 other pizza shops, a restuarant and an ice cream place. Not doing too bad, I think. Broke even first full month, about 8% profit second month and looks like about 12 to 15 % for third month. Since a lot of new business show no profit for about a year I guess that is not too bad. I guess the thing is you do not have to spend a lot of money to promote your business, just keep them happy, be super nice and helpful, and hand out tons of menus!!

Pizzaguy has some great ideas for marketing your pizza place to new customers, but my understanding was that you wanted to get the ones you already have to talk you up to others. I think this goes right along the same lines, and you need to do something new, unreal, maybe even shocking! During dinner rush go up to a table of customers that you see in your place often and give them their money back! Thank them for being so loyal to you, and let them know how much their business is appreciated. I know if that happened to me, I would talk about it! If you only do delivery you could stop by their house and thank them personally, and give them in cash what their average delivery was and tell them “dinner is on me tonight even if you don’t order pizza!” It is not cheap but people will talk. Finding unique ways to give back to the community is also a fantastic way to increase word of mouth, especially if you get an article in the paper or a short blub on the news about what you did. Show that you are a kind, caring, giving, community oriented business person and chances are you will make more money than ever!

David McGuire