"No," he said, "it's the truth. I have absolutely the most wonderful customers in the world. When they go to restaurants, and they order tea, usually they get such bad tea. So they talk to the waitress, the manager, and tell them about us. And we get a call from the restaurant! Honest. I have great customers, and they just love great tea."
I believed him. After all, why was I there? I drove 30 minutes across town because the restaurant I was at raved about him. And his tea was phenomenal. And look at what I was walking out of the store with: the tea I wanted, plus more tea and a ton of information that this knowledgeable guy had given me. Now I was a fan, too.
I thought about it more on the way home. Bill probably hadn't implemented a word-of-mouth marketing campaign, but he sure had something worth talking about. In his book, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, Andy Sernovitz says that the four rules of word of mouth marketing are:
1.) Be interesting.
2.) Make people happy.
3.) Earn trust and respect.
4.) Make it easy.
And that's exactly what Bill has done. Tea drinkers are extremely happy with his product, he's earned their trust and respect with his knowledge and quality of tea, and it's easy to recommend him to others. His message and brand promise is simple: Great tea!
The TeaSource story could even be called evangelism marketing, which is when companies cultivate customers who believe so strongly in a particular product or service that they freely try to convince others to buy and use it. Look at me -- I'm one of his advocates now, too!
The lesson I've learned from all of this is that the most important thing for my company's future is to get my product right, make it excellent, and give my customers the best that I possibly can. As Bill and TeaSource have proved, it really, really works.