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Sandwiches, an Evangelist and Social Media

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Chris Thomas likes sandwiches. In particular, he likes the sandwiches at his local Which Wich sandwich shop. So much so that he decided to not only eat one of every 51 sandwiches the shop offers, but he's blogging the experience. And he's gotten his readers involved, before each installment, he will give his readers several different sandwiches, and ask them to tell him which one he should eat that day.

Why is Chris doing this? Here's his explanation:

I just love the place. I love the wiches. I love the house chips. I love the sweet tea. I love the ordering experience. I love that they encourage you to be creative with the back of your ordering bag. I love the brand.

On day 10, Chris announced that his local Which Wich had started adding Chris' blog address on each of their bags, with the question "Will Chris Make all 51?"
This is an absolutely brilliant move, because Which Wich is reaching out to and embracing a brand evangelist. And since Chris is an evangelist, he's also honest. Not every review is positive, and he makes a point to give readers his honest opinion of each sandwich. His readers are loving the series, and they are even starting to submit their own reviews of Which Wich's sandwiches!
This is a great example of how any company of any size can utilize social media effectively. This all started because Chris' local Which Wich noticed that he was coming in almost every day, so they started talking to him about it, and when he told them about the blogging series he was doing about their sandwiches, that's when they decided to promote the series on their bags.
My only complaint is that I could find zero mention of Chris' series on the Which Wich website, or blog. Sounds like Which Wich's main office could take a lesson in how to embrace and empower its brand evangelists from Chris' local shop.
Hat Tip to the Marketing Monster!

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Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs that let them better connect with their fans. His first business book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April of 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier
LinkedIn: Mack Collier

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  • by Michael Morton Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    Hey Mack, I agree that the company needs to promote the series on their website and blog. Actually, I've heard through the grapevine that the founder of Which Wich, Jeff Sinelli, is aware of the Chris's blog. If that's the case, then they need to get on the ball and do everything they can to promote the heck out of this. The momentum (and there is plenty of it right now thanks to the community site Metafilter for picking up the story) will not last very long.

  • by Chris Thomas Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    That's totally not a shot of a Which Wich wich. Believe me, I know... Thanks for the link.

  • by Mack Collier Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    Michael it only makes sense for the company to promote this, I mean if readers at Chris' blog are already submitted their own reviews of Which Wich sandwiches, how long is it before another of their brand evangelists decides to start a blog series similar to what Chris has done? A company should ALWAYS do everything to encourage their evangelists to be themselves. These people WANT to evangelize their favorite brands and companies. Making it as easy as possible for them to do just that is what every company and brand should strive for.

  • by Paul McEnany Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    Crazy! I actually did my college final project on Which Wich back when they were only 4 stores. Looks like they've been doing really well. Their owner struck me as a very hands on type of guy, even if it is a franchise-based business. I'm curious how much he had to do with the response.

  • by Jim Kukral Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    Tip for any brands out there with evangelists. This recently happened to me. Don't try to scale back an evangelists love for your brand. It only alienates them. Set them free and help them.

  • by CK Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    "This is an absolutely brilliant move, because Which Wich is reaching out to and embracing a brand evangelist." Agree 100+%.But isn't it ironic that common sense--embracing one's customers--is something we label brilliant? I do hope more co's will embrace their customers and indeed this serves as a great example. Thanks Mack, Marketing Madness...and most especially, Chris Thomas.

  • by Mack Collier Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    "Don't try to scale back an evangelists love for your brand. It only alienates them. Set them free and help them." Bingo Jim. And it might scare some companies to see an evangelist like Chris occasionally critiquing Which Wich, but you know what, that proves he is HONEST about the brand, and it boosts his credibility with his readers. Evangelists are straight-shooters, because they LOVE the brands that they evangelize, and if they think something is wrong, they'll happily point it out, because they want to see their favorite brand improve. Another example of how evangelists are the best marketing out there. Every company/organization should find their's and embrace them ASAP. CK funny that Which Wich putting Chris' blog URL on their bags started from his local shop taking the time to talk to him. Seems common sense but so many businesses miss paying attention to their customers.

  • by Ann Handley Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    Great post, Mack, and great comments. So is it only the local Which Wich that is putting the URL on the wrap? Wasn't clear about that.

  • by Ann Handley Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    p.s. to Chris: You are right. That's not a Which Wich. I wouldn't try to fool you. *AS IF!*

  • by Mack Collier Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    Ann as far as I know it is. And I assume Chris is in Nashville? Maybe he can stop back by and help us out.

  • by Cam Beck Tue Jun 19, 2007 via blog

    It seems adding Chris's blog address to the Which Wich site would be the easiest thing to do, so it surprises me that they went with a more difficult option first. They can always come back and make a big splash, if that is what they intend. Get the word out any which way you can, but more importantly, empower your brand evangelists to do what they already are pining away to do.

  • by Mack Collier Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Cam I think this is just Chris' local Which Wich that's added his blog URL to their bags. As far as I know, the other stores in the chain have not.

  • by Chris Thomas Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    As far as I know only my local WW is stamping it's bags.

  • by Mack Collier Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Thanks for clarifying Chris.

  • by Chris Thomas Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Interesting side note... Jeff Sinelli, founder of WW, flew in from Dallas to have lunch with me today. Very nice guy. Will blog later.

  • by Mack Collier Wed Jun 20, 2007 via blog

    Which Wich is now blogging about Chris as well:

  • by Jeffrey Jones Thu Jun 21, 2007 via blog

    Great "concept", but who has the time to play in this sandbox? Mebbe students... they don't have enough to do. Wierd wired audience for UGC. Idle minds are the devil's playground. And if you're so wrapped up in this you probably weight 800 pounds and are on your way to quadruple bypass. And never leave the keyboard. Pass the Cheetos!

  • by Chris Thomas Thu Jun 21, 2007 via blog

    Thanks for your insightful comments Jeffrey. You're brilliant. Anyway, look for all WW locations to be stamping their bags by the end of the week.

  • by Jeff Sinelli (Which Wich - Founder) Tue Jun 26, 2007 via blog

    Mack...thanks for the building "scroll". If all goes well we should start stamping bags in all WHICH WICH? stores on Monday of next week. We are having fun with this and I really enjoyed meeting Chris up in Nashville...this show is all Chris, we are here to support him...btw can you pass the cheetos???? BEST WICHes ALWAYS, Jeff

  • by Mack Collier Tue Jun 26, 2007 via blog

    VERY smart move Jeff, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see other Which Wich evangelists across the country starting similar series. But as I said on The Viral Garden, you guys really need to overhaul your blog. And start by putting Chris' blog on your sidebar.

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