I had a great experience recently with a merchant, and realized that it is a perfect example of how word-of-mouth marketing can help a company succeed. Bear with me; it's a bit of a story.
I've been drinking a lot of tea lately. While shopping in December, I stopped for lunch at a local cafe. I ordered some Prairie Passion tea. It was so good -- I mean really good! After lunch, I complimented the waitress on the tea and asked if they sold it at the restaurant. She said that they didn't, but gave me the name of the company and told me I could order it directly from them. "I know St. Paul is a long way away from this side of town, but they have a website and you can order the tea online," she told me. She wrote the name on the back of their card: TeaSource. "It's really worth it," she said. "They're such great people there. You'll love them. We love them, and the tea is great!"
My curiosity was piqued. And I kept thinking about that tea.
So I went online and found TeaSource, but it was not a particularly great site. I found Prairie Passion, but I didn't know which size I wanted. But I couldn't stop thinking about that tea. Since I did know exactly where their store was located, I decided to make the drive there.
It was a nice tea shop, with people sitting at tables towards the front with their tea, one guy on a laptop, and, in the back, a long service counter with lots and lots of jars of tea lining the walls behind it. I studied the tea merchandise on the wall, and approached the fellow behind the counter. Turns out he was the owner, Bill Waddington, although I didn't know that at first.
"May I help you?" he asked.
"Yes!" I said. "I'm here because I had a cup of your great Prairie Passion tea at Cafe 318 in Excelsior, and they sent me here because I wanted to buy some."
"Wonderful! Here it is..." and he proceeded to show me the different sizes they offer and explain how many cups of tea you can expect to get from each size. He asked me what tea I currently drink and asked me more about my green tea preferences (like I knew!). When I asked about how to use loose tea, he showed me a cool tea basket to use with tea pots.
As I was paying for my Prairie Passion tea, the new green teas I was going to try out, my tea basket, and a tea cup for my son, I told Bill how impressed I was that he was developing his business through his stores and via the restaurants he supplied. "Yes," he said, "and I've never made one sales call." I laughed. I thought he was kidding.