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Great (or Horrible?) Marketing Idea...You Tell Me!

On http://www.consumerist.com/, there's a GREAT story about a pizzeria in San Francisco that has taken ‘marketing is a conversation' to a whole new level.

They have taken 1 star customer reviews about their restaurant from the consumer review site http://www.yelp.com/and placed them on employee tshirts. Bold move? I'll say!

I checked some of the 1 star reviews on Yelp for Pizzeria Delfina. Here's what the servers there could be wearing on their tshirts based on the reviews I read:

*Never again*

*I will not be back*

*A four year old could do better by pouring some tomato sauce on a piece of bread*

*My wine was about as interesting as Kool Aid*

As I said, bold move. But quite possibly a brilliant one. Think about it. It puts the idea of writing a Yelp review right in the face of every customer. And it probably keeps the ideas of the potentially bad reviews in the forefront of everyone's mind who works there. And it makes people talk. Like me. Like the Consumerist and who knows how many other bloggers out there.

And if I go to San Francisco anytime soon, I might just have to go into Pizzeria Delfina and see if the wine really IS like Kool Aid and if a four year old could make better pizza.

Seriously, though, I am liking this idea more and more! While I probably wouldn't use the lowest possible ratings, I think taking some great testimonials from AptRatings.com and placing them on staff tshirts is a really interesting idea. With summer coming up and 'summer wear' for our staffs getting a bit more casual, this is a great way to stand out from your competitors.

Think about it! And please, tell me what you think! Love to hear your thoughts.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Wow - that is GREAT! I love the idea! This is marketing to a style rather than a service, in my opinion. It speaks to all the rebels and "contrarians" out there, who like certain things because they believe they are going against the grain in some way. Of course, I think this only works if the food is actually somewhat good and these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

As for property management, I'm not sure if it works unless the review is obviously from a nutcase. Whereas one might go to a restaurant that flaunted its flaws as a novelty, flaws in apartments are harder to pass off as fun and clever. I'm not sure I can spin poor maintenance, overgrown landscaping, and rude office staff as being trendy, but who knows? My guess is that Eric at Urbane would figure out a way to make this work!

  Brent Williams
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What's interesting Brent, is that it was difficult to find negative ratings about Pizzeria Delfina (PD for short). I think they have accomplished their goals:

1. "Tweak" Yelp a bit;
2. Get people to go the the Yelp site and rate them;
3. Get publicity
4. Create a conversation

Really smart on their part and I don't see why some of us in our industry couldn't do this (albeit positioned somewhat differently than PD did).

PD is an 'edgier' pizza place, but clearly, that resonates with lots of San Franciscans!

  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Talk about turning a negative into a potential positive especially if one discovers that the statements are not true. The messages cause conversation and what do they say in Hollywood 'bad publicity makes you even more popular.'

I'm not opposed to having staff wear well made T-shirts with tasteful messages at certain communities. Perhaps great reviews can be captured in a picture frame or on poster board and hung in leasing office, community center, models etc.

I think this is a GREAT Marketing Idea.

Gabriele Preston

  Gabriele Preston
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks, Gabrielle! I really think this could be fabulous. I just hung up the phone with a client of mine who is also really energized by this idea and putting it into play into his organization.

AMLI has done a great job with 'internal marketing' posters throughout their properties and common areas. This is clearly something that resonates with prospects AND residents.

  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I wonder what Yelp's republishing rules are on reviews? Could you publish these "testimonials" on your site with a link to add your own testimonial?

Also, we would love to see these ideas in action - Lisa, do you know somebody at AMLI that would be willing to share pictures of what they are doing? (Or maybe have your current client keep a log of what they are going to implement and turn it into a case study for all of us to follow?)

  Brent Williams
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Well, the current client is just now floating the trial balloon to see what people think of the idea, so that's a ways off. AMLI's posters were the brainchild of the amazing and terrific Steve Ross, their Vice President of Development out of their Chicago office several years ago. I'm sure their VP of Marketing would have a great handle on that now.

  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I'd love to see them do positive feedback on shirts like every other day. MWF positive, T&Th negative. I think the walk in traffic numbers would be interesting to see.

  Heather Blume
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Interesting idea, Heather! We'll have to see if any MF types decide to do this.

  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Oh, and they should make sure to put the "testimonials" on the back of the shirt as well, so that prospects can read them as they are following the leasing consultant on a show.

By the way, these might also work as (nice-looking) yard signs you put out on tour routes so they can read them as they walk by. Might be especially powerful if you get a negative comment on landscaping - put a sign out next to your best outdoor feature to let the prospect defend you in their mind.

  Brent Williams
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Believe me, I am never one to waste 'real estate' for advertising! I always use the back of a tshirt, a business card, etc. Thank you for adding that because I failed to mention that! Good catch, Brent.
And yes, these would make great signs and banners! Way better than "Now Leasing" right? : )

  Lisa Trosien
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