Airplane atop gas station.

WWII Vintage Airplane Sits on Gas Station

You’ve just spent the day, a long day, at a Disney theme park. You’re beyond tired when you finally make it back to your car to find you’ve locked the keys inside. Can you imagine a more frustrating feeling? Now imagine the arrival of Disney’s locksmith.

He reads your VIN, punches the numbers into a computer in the van, which bounces the lock information off satellite, and cuts a replacement key. You unlock the door, and with a fair amount of relief, you ask him what you owe for his service. He tells you that you owe nothing. He hopes you enjoyed your day at the park.

What will you be doing when you get home? And for years afterward?

Yeah. You’ll be providing excellent word of mouth for Disney Corporation.

Positive Word-of-Mouth

Positive word of mouth is triggered when your customer experiences something way beyond his expectations.

It isn’t enough to be good.

It isn’t enough to be very good.

To be noticed, and to be so unusual that people want to talk about it, you have to be so far above the norm for your industry that your competitors would never even think about doing what you’re doing.

Roy Williams has said that physical, non-verbal statements are the surest way of triggering positive word of mouth. These statements can be generated from one of three possible sources: architectural, kinetic, or generous.

  • I vividly remember a gas station that had a WWII fighter on the roof. When Dad was pumping gas we could climb up a ladder and sit in the cockpit. Architectural word of mouth at work.
  • The restaurateur in Mississippi who made the 6 o’clock news by throwing dinner rolls at his patrons from across the restaurant understands kinetic word of mouth.
  • The Orlando car dealer who’s “Good Samaritan Van” provides a can of gas, water, help changing a tire, or jump starting your car, and then tells you there’s no charge has generous word of mouth down pat.

Can you plan one of these strategies for your business?


Should you advertise it?

Absolutely not.

Worth Repeating?

Remember, you must exceed expectations to make your customer’s experience memorable, and worth repeating.

If you advertise your new architectural, or kinetic, or generous word of mouth trigger, you’ve just raised your customer’s expectations.


Budget for your next word of mouth trigger, then hush up about it, and allow your customers to deliver the good news.  Sometimes it’s best to sit quietly and wait for them to be drawn to you when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions about helping people to talk about your business?  Drop Chuck a note at Or call him at 304-523-0163.


Mike Dandridge’s book The One Year Business Turn Around is all about generating positive word of mouth. Mike details fifty-two tested techniques that helped him build an electrical supply company to more than a million dollars a month in sales, in a town of 50,000 people, even though he was challenged by Home Depot on the left and Lowe’s on the right.