Cheesecake Factory Depends On Word-Of-Mouth

Idaho Business Review, Wednesday, December 27, 2006 12:15 PM
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At least 50 people including the mayor showed up in the cold for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Cheesecake Factory in Boise, Idaho, earlier this month. All of them were drawn by word-of-mouth--the only advertising that Howard Gordon, The Cheesecake Factory's vice president of business development and marketing, has used in opening 120 stores over 28 years.

The media is complicit in Gordon's viral-marketing plans. Complimentary cheesecakes accompany press releases announcing grand openings, and Gordon says he maintains a large list of media contacts. [Editor's note: No cheesecake was consumed in the preparation of this summary.]

Gordon also goes out of his way to make an impression on community leaders. Before the recent ribbon-cutting, the company donated $5,000 each to two local charities: Life's Kitchen and Meals on Wheels.

At the end of the day, there's nothing like brand awareness. Gordon estimates that about 80% of Cheesecake Factory customers leave with leftovers. "It doesn't hurt having people walk around with the bags," he says.

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