I’ve probably walked by Via 45 in Red Bank a thousand times, but never gave much thought about eating there. I have preconceptions of Italian cuisine as heavy, carb-based dishes that need to be loaded onto your table with a forklift. I enjoy healthful, light, fresh, aesthetically pleasing foods. Discovering a new restaurant that fits my tastes is always a welcome find.

While shopping in town, I happened to talk to the owner of a local boutique about “clean” eating and avoiding processed foods. We had very similar tastes. Lamenting about the paucity of restaurants that prepare and serve this type of cuisine, the owner began to rave about Via 45, excitedly talking about its daily handwritten menu, how happy they are to accommodate special dietary needs, (gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, and its use of local produce and the freshest of meats and fish. I was sold, and immediately made reservations. Sure enough, the dinner was every bit as good as was recommended.

As a marketing person, I fully understand the power of word of mouth. But this random interaction is a proof positive example of how well it works. Via 45 got a new customer. Not only that, the restaurant is now on my short list of places that I’ll frequent. Most importantly, this social transmission will snowball. Word of mouth will spread to my friends, and, in turn, their friends. Via 45 will increase its customer base and revenues through new leads. And all of this springing from a brief conversation. That’s powerful stuff.

When we get together to socialize with family, friends, and neighbors, what’s the big topic of conversation? What we bought and what services we used. And that includes getting the inside scoop on local restaurants. Word of mouth is effective, persuasive, and has the lowest cost of customer acquisition. There is no substitute for face-to-face referrals, especially when coming from those who you know and trust.

Word of mouth is targeted, laser-focused marketing. I was given a restaurant recommendation that was timely and relevant to my immediate decision-making. We naturally filter and select topics for our audience. For example, I am an avid equestrian. However, I’m not going to talk someone’s ear off about certain brand of saddle or equestrian clothing, or the name of a good local farrier to anyone with no interest in horses. On the other hand, if I’m at horse farm, and I’m aware that someone is looking for these particular equine goods or services, I’m all too happy to give a recommendation, and at that instant, it couldn’t be to a more targeted customer.

Word of mouth is all about getting people to talk about you. When online, we call effective word of mouth “going viral.” Some things manage to catch on whether justified or not. The challenge for a business is to become “viral,” both online and offline. Put another way, a company should strive for its brand and message to be contagious, jumping from one satisfied customer to the next.


If you have examples of word of mouth, either online through social media or offline, I’d love to hear about them.