Creative Small Business Marketing, Episode 2

Filed in Small Biz Marketing, Word of Mouth by Matt McGee on March 5, 2009 9 Comments

delfinateeThis is hip and clever, which means it will automatically turn off a number of small biz owners and simply not be possible for others. Still, consider this: Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco is taking their worst reviews and putting them on t-shirts that the staff wears while working.

Logic says you would put your best reviews on the shirts, but this is San Francisco — where restaurants sometimes have an adversarial relationship with Yelp users. So the t-shirts become a clever way, I think, to lessen the impact of negative reviews and even indirectly make fun of the sometimes angry, pushy Yelp reviewers and the silly things they say.

I’m not sure this would work in my hometown, but in San Francisco I think it’s a clever way of taking control of your brand and the impact that reviews might have on it. For more background on the t-shirts, read the original post on the 7×7 blog.

Not For You?

If this exact idea isn’t for you, there are still lessons here:

1.) Look at the buzz these t-shirts have created for this pizzeria. Can you put your best reviews on t-shirts or some other business collateral and generate your own buzz?

2.) Advertising your best reviews is just good business.

3.) Advertising your best reviews might, in turn, encourage other customers to leave reviews, too.

Your Turn: Is this clever marketing? Is it risky? Would it work in your community?

Comments (9)

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  1. rishil says:

    If it works, if it doesnt it isnt. Thats how most people would look at it. Take the skittles fiasco – great strategy, risky and gutsy. But they didnt take necessary precautions – Graywolf pointed out some simple ones they could have taken.

    In this particular case – what if the tshirts create such a buzz that people go on to Yelp to write negative comments even if they enjoyed the place, just so that their comment could be picked up?

    But then, we have been conditioned to think of creative idea shoot down – it takes guts to pull a stunt like that – the main thing is to then keep pushing the momentum to a positive build up.

    Regarding reviews and marketing positive reviews, I think its the way forward. One of my small business clients created leaflets for different social networks for their customers, advising them on how to use them, and actively encourages customers to place reviews, good and bad on these sites.

  2. Matt,

    As you alluded to, it depends on the market and the industry. The reality is that some regions of the country do not even attract comments on Yelp or even Google Local. Compare the number of comments on Yelp for Pizza Restaurants in San Fran and Tampa FL – both are considered Metro Markets. The number of comments is not even close! Now take it a step further and compare it to an even smaller city like Lakeland, FL – is Yelp even used?

    I think the idea of user generated comments on T-shirts is a good one (if the comments are positive). The concept of putting negative reviews only makes sense if you know your customers will get the inside humor but it is a risk and may shift people’s opinion of the product or service. For example, maybe I would start thinking, “Actually…this pizza is kind of greasy.”

  3. I think that’s an AWESOME concept of taking a negative and turning it into a positive. It also in a subtle way increases awarness of their clients to making it more likely for them to get positive reviews!

  4. Stever says:

    Love it. Of course it will only work in an area where Yelp use is heavy, but great buzz generator indeed. Think of all the customers that leave the shop giggling over the silly t-shirts with “negative” reviews on them. People will remember that, and thus remember that pizzeria next time they want pizza.

  5. Lisa Barone says:

    I read about this last night and thought it was hilarious…but not something I’d ever recommend someone implement. The problem is people are generally sensitive and have no sense of humor. This is a good way to make your customers feel like you’re making fun of them and weren’t listening to their complaints. Unless, of course, you’re living in San Francisco where anything is fair game. And if that’s the case, well done, sir!

  6. Harycosy says:

    Great post,Matt McGee.It is good concept to know about your clints which provide huge awareness to thinking negativly but result always will come positive reviw….love it.

  7. Ryan Rose says:

    Maybe it’s just a good way of turning lemons into lemonade… All in all it was definitely a great way to put a good spin some bad PR.

  8. Hi Matt,

    I think Pizzaria Delfina has hit on an brilliant strategy. We’re always talking about using social media to have conversations with customers, and this offers the company a way to counter the negative with humor and, at the same time, open a dialogue with their customers. Plus any company that’s bold enough to do this would have a shot at my business.


  9. Matt McGee says:

    Interesting feedback – thanks gang. I do think it’s the kind of thing you have to be careful about doing, because it could backfire. But there’s also a lot of reward sometimes when you take risks like this.

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