Great article in BusinessWeek about Chipotle's success without traditional advertising. If you've never been to one, Chipotle's is a burrito place. They used to be owned by McDonald's but got spun out and went public in 2006. Since then their share price has tripled. They've experienced double-digit growth for nine straight years! Here is the kicker: they don't do traditional advertising.
Actually, they do a little traditional advertising. Some billboards (see image with this post) and radio, but they spend less than 1% of their revenue on advertising compared with 4% or more for McDonald's and Taco Bell.
According to Steven Ellis, the Chipotle founder and CEO, "Advertising is not believable." When he opened his first store in Denver he had no money for advertising so he decided to let his burritos do the talking and started giving them away free. They recently opened a location in midtown Manhattan and gave away 6,000 burritos. People stood in line for two hours. It cost $35,000 (about the cost of an ad in The New York Times) and they got 6,000 promoters plus a mention in BusinessWeek out of it. Not bad.
What are you doing to get your customers talking?