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April 2, 2013

Continental Divide: A Hidden Gem

by besshundley3

Word of Mouth Marketing is infamous for the value it brings to a retailer or product. One key aspect of word of mouth marketing is that it can’t be paid for, it is created by truly satisfying the customer and giving them an excellent customer experience. It is only when this high level of satisfaction is reached that customers will recommend the product or place to their family, friends and peers.

I recently was amazed by the way in which word of mouth marketing has fueled the success of a local restaurant in Charlottesville. The restaurant establishment, Continental Divide, is tucked away on Main Street with a sign reading “Get In Here.” There are no signs with the restaurant’s name and their advertising is non-existent. After finding out about Continental Divide from a friend, I immediately searched online for their website but came up empty handed. However, I did find a wide variety of customer reviews amongst different social media websites. It seemed unreal to me that a restaurant in today’s world could survive without a strong online presence. What amazed me further was that in spite of Continental Divide’s lack of official presence on the web, there was much chatter scattered throughout various social media platforms praising the food and atmosphere. After reading a few blurbs about the food, I decided I had to try it for myself.

I decided to go during the middle of the week because my friend had warned me of the weekend crowds and the restaurant’s no reservations policy. Continental Divide was filled with customers despite it being a Wednesday night. There was a wait for a table but it was well worth it. Not only was the food delicious, but the customer service was excellent. The staff was efficient but also very personable and outgoing. The atmosphere was filled with chatty customers who all seemed to be regulars.

In an article in Businessweek, Shawn O’Connor writes about the word of mouth phenomenon “while there’s no single formula for word-of-mouth success, I’ve found it often starts with creating a culture that encourages your clients to consider themselves valued partners in your business. Word-of-mouth referrals stem naturally from an unparalleled customer experience that fosters clients’ identification with your brand.”

I feel strongly that Continental Divide provides this type of unique dining experience for their customers. Due to their lack of advertising and marketing initiatives, there is a mysterious element to their brand that creates appeal and wonder. Yet, once a customer steps inside Continental Divide, they are witnesses to an intimate atmosphere full of loquacious, happy customers and staff.

Bess Hundley


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