Marketing Through Your Customers

Word of mouth—the better-than-anything-you-could-pay-for form of spreading the word about companies and products worth supporting. Your customers do your marketing for you, and you simply continue delivering the high-quality product they’re raving about.

But how do you get your customers to do it?

On May 9, 2013, an article was published by a journalist who’d stopped in Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City and asked what was new. The staff offered the journalist a taste of a new product that would launch to the public on the day after the article was published. On May 10, 2013, the Cronut™ was born. There were customers waiting outside the little bakery, lined up to sample the delectable baked good they’d read about.

By the end of the week, the line outside the bakery was 100 people long. People stood in line to sample the Cronut™ they’d heard about from their friends. And they didn’t just buy one Cronut™; they bought lots of them—as well as all of the other unique, handmade pastries the shop produces.

The Dominique Ansel Bakery is a small business. They don’t have a big marketing department who dreamed up the Cronut™ as a publicity stunt. They simply embrace the creativity inherent in baking, and word of mouth pulls customers from all over the world into the little shop. It’s organic. It’s natural. It’s the power of word of mouth.

Another great example of a company whose customers are ardent fans is a well-known jewelry store (whose name I can’t share with you). Their policy for purchases of engagement rings is pure genius. A couple selects a ring—say a diamond of one full carat. The jewelry store has a secret upgrade policy, and they supply the client with a stone that’s just a little larger than the one they paid for. When customers take their one-carat ring to an appraiser, they discover that it’s a carat and a quarter. The customer—stunned at having received more than they paid for—returns to the jewelry store, at which point the jeweler thanks them for their business, tells them about the secret upgrade and—here’s the genius part—asks the customer not to tell anyone about the secret upgrade.

But the customer does tell. The customer tells everyone he can think of about the spectacular customer service he received and about the exceptional value the jeweler provided. That customer ropes in hundreds more customers, and the jewelry store doesn’t do anything except make customers happy and wait for new customers to pour in. It’s brilliant.
Whether customers are sharing a Cronut™ with a friend, or whether they’re swearing a coworker to secrecy about the jewelry store’s secret upgrade they swore not to divulge, if you can get your customers talking about you, your company and your brand, then you’re starting a marketing trend that can not only become self-sustaining, but can also bring more customers than you’d ever dreamed of—right to your door.


MIKE MICHALOWICZ (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford—a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings, he systematically bootstrapped a multimillion-dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; a former small-business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; MSNBC’s business makeover expert; a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and the author of the cult classic book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan, has already been called “the next E-Myth!” For more information, visit

For more information, visit