Steve Jobs is known to have trashed any market research as he staunchly believed that customers seldom know what they want. The online review systems have in some ways used this fact to influence customer choices and perhaps even, as this Hustle piece suggests, at the cost of extorting small businesses. David Cerretini, a restaurateur in California, upset by the online review site Yelp’s heavy handed techniques to get him to advertise with them in exchange for positive reviews (or if he failed to advertise, penalise him by removing the good reviews and pushing the negative ones to the top), decided to flip the whole system upside down. He made an offer to his customers that if they left a one-star review about his restaurant on Yelp, they would get a 25% discount, only to see his business booming on the back of that.
“At the time, Cerretini had a reputation for being snarky. In the vein of Edsel Ford Fong (who gained a reputation in 1960s San Francisco for being the ‘World’s Rudest Waiter’), his sassy attitude with diners was part of his appeal. He maintained a Hall of Shame featuring facetious Yelp Eliters (or “Village Idiots”). He compiled idiotic customer inquiries (e.g. “Do you sell burgers?”) and sent out a newsletter of the “Stupidest Questions of the Month.” He posted an FAQ on his website stating that the customer is not, in fact, always right.
To loyal diners, it was Davide being Davide; to transient Yelpers, it was 1-star service. Soon, he came to a realization: “What if I don’t give a shit about reputation? What if I take away their power by actually making it worse?”
One morning in September of 2014, he placed a simple sign in front of Botto Bistro: Give us a one star review on Yelp and get 25% off any pizza! Hate us on Yelp. (The discount was later increased to 50%.)
….Most supporters refused to take the discount, but were thrilled to write a review and partake in what they deemed to be a grassroots, anti-Yelp uprising.
In a few days’ time, Botto Bistro’s Yelp page attracted more than 2,300 1-star ratings (95% of its total reviews) extolling the good food, proper service, and rustic ambiance. “Botto Bistro sucks,” wrote one reviewer. “Delicious food priced fairly. One star.”
“I got thousands and thousands of letters, thousands of emails a day,” says Cerretini. “People were sending me boxes of chocolates, cash, checks. Business owners from all over the country stopped by to thank me and write a bad review.”
Note: the above material is neither investment research, nor financial advice.Marcellus Investment Managers is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a provider of Portfolio Management Services and as an Investment Advisor.
Copyright © 2019 Marcellus Investment Managers Pvt Ltd, All rights reserved.
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Note: the above material is neither investment research, nor financial advice. Marcellus does not seek payment for or business from this publication in any shape or form. Marcellus Investment Managers is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a provider of Portfolio Management Services. Marcellus Investment Managers is also regulated in the United States as an Investment Advisor.
Copyright © 2022 Marcellus Investment Managers Pvt Ltd, All rights reserved.
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