Was in Cabo San Lucas (tip of the Baja) on vacation last week and, being who I am, enjoyed just observing the local marketing (OK, so I did some other stuff as well) – everything from flea market vendors carefully displaying their wares to ‘aligners’ trying to entice us into attending a condo sales pitch to the brochures (with varying degrees of professional design…) for the various outdoor activities (snorkeling, whale watching, ATVing, etc) to the hawkers on the beach. But by far the most interesting marketing I saw was the leveraging of Web 2.0, even if inadvertent, by a restaurateur who has no web page and, as best I could tell, no access to the internet.

Maro surrounded by some satisfied customers

Maro surrounded by some satisfied customers

Maro’s Shrimp House is run by a gregarious bear of a man, who greets patrons personally.  His ‘restaurant’ is basically an alley way between two buildings, with straw mats strung across the gap (through which you can see the stars while dining).  The food is simple, very fresh, tasty and (for vacationers in Cabo) reasonably-priced.  The wait staff is personable, and with personalities – and there is a boisterous atmosphere (including the itinerant and ubiquitous mariachi bands) which seems to encourage patrons to interact (we got a good tip on a couple of activities from a couple across from us). All this would potentially lend itself to word-of-mouth advertising. But Maro’s depends on the tourist trade, where his target audience stays for a couple of days to a week, hardly giving time for the potential clientele to discover the place, and then pass word on.

Yet, Maro’s, at this writing, is the top-rated Cabo restaurent on tripadvisor.com, which is how we discovered it (read some of the reviews, here:  Maro’s Shrimp House reviews).  Maro, himself, seemed vaguely aware of what tripadvisor.com was when we mentioned it to him, saying someone had shown him a print out once.

Don’t get me wrong…Maro is a smart and sophisticated, if self-taught, marketer, with a keen sense of client satisfaction, and not at all shy about asking for help. At the end of the meal, when it was clear we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, he pulled out a couple of business cards and asked us to pass them around. We offered to tell the hotel concierge (who claimed to have trouble finding Maro’s phone number – I eventually did a Google search to find it to make a reservation), at which Maro grimaced. He explained that the concierges demanded money for referrals, which meant he would have had to increase his prices by at least 15%, and he – so far – said he was resisting, which of course just encouraged us. We went back to our place and wrote a heartfelt and glowing internet review – yes, they do have internet access in Cabo.

Even if Maro doesn’t.

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