The Most Powerful Form of Advertising Lies in Your “Little Extras”

Branding Marketing

What is the most powerful form of advertising for your brand? Word-of-mouth. When someone of trust tells others to purchase your brand because they want them to experience the benefit they themselves have received. It’s powerful because it leads to direct sales without the need for additional advertising messages which can be costly.

So how do you get word-of-mouth working for you?

The secret lies in the little extras. The moments you deliver value above the customer’s expectations in a way they can remember. And the best part is that these moments don’t have to cost extra – they just need to be thought through and executed consistently (which is a leadership issue).

Here’s a recent example. My wife and I went to two restaurants on the same night for a date night. (Ok, that’s a long story on why we did that but we were in Barcelona and that’s what people tend to do – dine from 7 – midnight).

Both of the restaurants were in good locations. One had a great Mediterranean Sea view and the other was in a trendy El Born district. But that’s about all they had in common.

The El Born restaurant had atmosphere and style with young, knowledgeable staff and the other didn’t. Yet they had all the same ingredients of decor, furniture, staff, and music.

Here’s where the separation really occurred. The El Born restaurant, named Pla, provided a small sample of a soup after you order. Then they gave us ice mango sorbet in tiny old coke glasses to cleanse our pallet before dessert. After dessert when we were enjoying tea (yes, I drink tea) they gave us two small chocolates and two raspberry marshmallows on a decorated plate. The other restaurant didn’t offer any “little extras”.

The total food cost to the restaurant of the 3 extra items was probably $1 – $2 or close to 1% of the total bill. It was these extras that took us over the moon. They fit the situation. They were unexpected. They added value to our dining experience. Now, I want to share it with you and the thousand others who read this blog.

Think about your bottom line for a moment. You naturally would think that the word-of-mouth this activity generates outweighs the cost and hassle of the 1% reduction in profitability. Yet businesses often cut these activities and behaviours to maximize profit because they can’t measure behavioural impact well enough. How do you convince the CFO that the extra chocolate and raspberry marshmallow brought in three additional tables to the restaurant? It’s extremely difficult to measure especially for small to medium-sized businesses who don’t have the budget for research. This is the exactly why great businesses are run with a soul as well as a ledger.

Here’s my takeaway from this experience.

Understand what your little extras are. Then ensure they are delivered on consistently through processes and checklists. How could you create more or better ones that lead to chatter? Apple puts bonus stickers in their product boxes which is great advertising for their brand but also gives value to their consumer. I think they could even up the game by offering just $10 to the iTunes store for Apps or Music.

Always improve or add more value to the experience for your customer. Your little extras should do this. Online shoe companies can put a pair of socks in the box to “test out”. It just needs to fit the experience and be above expectations so don’t say “Free pair of sox inside” on the outside of the box or packaging.

Stay close enough to the front lines of the business to evaluate the results of your actions on customers. Is it working? Are you hearing positive feedback? Are you seeing sales grow? Leaders tend to make the most mistakes with their brand and strategies when they are too far removed from the reality of the front lines.
In light of this lesson, I’m offering one of my eBooks, the Power of your Personal Brand for free for the next week. Follow the link here.