“Word Of Mouth, The Upside”
In the weeks leading up to the Grand Opening of my very first New York Kids Club location, I had stuck floor-to-ceiling signs up in the windows of our new space that read: “New York Kids Club Coming Soon!” But I knew that wouldn’t be enough to generate a buzz in the neighborhood. It was the first location, so no one could be expected to even know who we were, let alone to be excited about us!
So I had to find other ways of generating publicity. I enlisted the help of my brother and several others, and I set a personal goal for myself: I was going to tell 50 people a day about the New York Kids Club, in any setting, it didn’t matter. 50 people a day.
“Psst!” I whispered to the lady next to me in the checkout line. “Did you hear about that new place opening on 87th Street? It’s called the New York Kids Club, and they offer all these great classes for kids!”
“Psst! The New York Kids Club is coming, and they’ve got wonderful teachers and the space is just terrific!”
I told the man in Harry’s Shoe Store. I told the lady at the nail salon. I told people on the playground. People at the meat counter. People at the street fairs. People on the bus.
I talked up a storm. I handed out flyers and pamphlets. I fielded questions. I struck up random conversations. I told and sold the New York Kids Club on anyone willing to listen to me. Short of shouting from the rooftops or renting a blimp, I was EVERYWHERE.
And I don’t feel that I was secretive about it or that I was operating in stealth. I was fully prepared for people to ask me, “How do you know about the Kids Club?” And I was going to say, “I started it. I’m the Founder.”
But funnily enough, no one asked me.
Then the calls started coming. The NY Kids Club didn’t even have a phone system yet, only an answering machine. I would listen to the messages and return the calls. I gave the spiel and sold it hard. I took pre-orders. I swiped credit cards. I filled the classes.
Come Opening Day, the New York Kids Club had generated enough revenue to cover all costs of the construction which had gone into preparing the space. It was an incredible relief to know that I had survived the mine field of getting my business up and running.
I never underestimate the power of advertising or the power of internet marketing. I am a full advocate of jumping on the bandwagon and adapting to new marketing platforms. But I firmly believe that the best, certainly the most personal form of reaching out to customers has always been – and always will be – by word of mouth. And not only is it possibly the best form of advertising, but it’s also FREE!
Now I should mention that it’s not all wine and roses. There is a definite downside to setting ablaze the type of wildfire that spreads by word of mouth. But that’s another story, for another day.