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Newsletter #1011: The “Potty” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Bathrooms are important. They can be the forgotten back corner of your store that your customers totally judge you on — or, if you’re Buc-ee’s (a Texas gas station famous for their plentiful, clean bathrooms), they can be your crowning word of mouth achievement.

Here are three lessons from bathrooms:

1> Start conversations
2> Flip a switch
3> Find your niche
4> Check it out: The Law of Urination

1. Start conversations

Funky bathrooms can be word of mouth triggers for almost any business. For example, Scum of the Earth church has four bathrooms with the walls covered in intricate mosaics and decorated with toilet seats and other funky art. In fact, one of their rejected slogans on their site is “Come to see the crazy bathrooms, stay for a sermon.”

The lesson: Their bathrooms carry word of mouth. As an alternative church, it’s much easier for visitors to explain Scum of the Earth’s offbeat personality by talking about their weird bathrooms.

Learn more: Scum of the Earth

2. Flip a switch

Last year we wrote about this restaurant bathroom with a clever idea: A switch in the restroom that immediately tells the management if it needs attention. That’s one of the best kinds of customer feedback you can ask for: immediate, easy, and anonymous.

The lesson: When something annoys your customers, it’s not always easy for them to tell you about it. Instead, they tell their family, friends, and Yelp. How are you giving your customers a direct line of communication to you?

3. Find your niche

Potty Mouth Tours is an online video series dedicated to finding unique bathrooms. They also feature blog posts on DIY bathroom remodeling ideas and host Potty Village, a social community for people to share photos of their bathrooms. It seems weird, but if you can make quality, unique content, there’s an audience for everything.

The lesson: This kind of stuff isn’t for the masses, it’s for a specific group. Not everyone will “get it,” but the people who do will find other people who are just as passionate about bathrooms on Potty Mouth Tours — and that creates some powerful word of mouth.

Learn more: Potty Mouth Tours

4. Check it out: The Law of Urination

Did you know that the average pee session (no matter what the bladder size) is 21 seconds? Yep, scientists have determined peeing takes the same amount of time for your cat as it does for an African elephant. Now you know.

Check it out: C&EN

And that’s exactly why I blog every single day…

Blogging is a long-term game. 

You’re not going instantly viral. You’re not shooting for the home run post.

But every post builds your reputation. Every post drives you hired in the search engines. Week after week, more people know about you and what you do.

And then, out of the blue … you get the big win.

My friend Scott — the Nametag Guy — hit it big:

The Today Show was doing a segment about wearing nametags, googled the word “nametag,” found me at the top of the page one, and then did a story on my business:


And THAT’S exactly I blog every single day :)

Toying with emotions will backfire

Yesterday’s post about a viral video from KLM turns out to be a marketing stunt. It may backfire on them.  

On the other hand, many TV commercials are fake stories. 

How do you know when you’re risking upsetting people?

  • When you toy with their emotions. If people know it’s fiction — all good.
  • If people were tricked into feeling emotions — and later find out they were duped — they get mad.
  • If they shared the content with their friends — and later find out they were duped — and then get embarrassed — they get really mad.

Be careful. When in doubt, make sure people know that your marketing is really marketing.

Cute puppy + Genius word of mouth marketing from KLM

Do you want genuine, meaningful word of mouth?  Do something worth talking about.


P.S. It’s not a viral video that matters. It’s a video of something that matters that goes viral.

Never underestimate the cost of negative word of mouth

Angry, frustrated customers talk. A lot.

Pete Blackshaw’s book title said it well: Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000.

Too often, otherwise well-meaning organizations forget how expensive negative word of mouth is. Corners get cut, standards get lowered, and quality slips. And as soon as customers notice and start talking, it takes 10 times the effort and resources to turn it around than it would to just do it right the first time.

How a word of mouth marketer does it:

One of Zappos’ core missions is to deliver “WOW” through service. They’re able to do it because they have an amazing staff — and they understand the cost of negative word of mouth.

At the end of their intense training program, Zappos offers new trainees a $2,000 bonus to quit. It seems like a lot, until you consider how expensive poor customer experiences are for Zappos — a brand built on creating love and happiness.

It’s a fantastic final test. The people who are there to deliver wow experiences stay, and the ones who were going to cost Zappos 10 times that in poor customer service move on.

We need an Operations Director in Austin

My company, GasPedal, and its brands, and, are growing fast. And we’re looking for talented, passionate people to join our team in Austin and Chicago. We’re hiring an Operations Director at It’s a fantastic place to work: interesting work, a meaningful mission, and positive culture. I’d be grateful if you could share […]

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Newsletter #1010: The “Booze” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.] The alcohol industry is a crowded one. You’re fighting for shelf space where people judge you by your label, it’s highly […]

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Older customers are better than newer customers

Everyone knows you make more money selling more to existing customers than you do from new customers.  But most promotions are focused on special deals for new customers. That’s expensive — and it often pisses off loyal customers who feel screwed. When’s the last time you improved things for existing customers? Here’s a fantastic example […]

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Natanya Anderson, Director of Social Media and Digital Marketing at Whole Foods Market

This is a post from my company,’s blog. Check it out for more profiles and stories about the people running social at really big brands. We sat down with Whole Foods Market Director of Social Media Natanya Anderson for this member profile. We’re glad to have smart, generous members like Natanya, who has presented […]

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