Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz



If you want people to hear about your business, then you have to make something worth talking about. Be interesting and connect with your audience in a genuine and meaningful way.

19 lessons

Word of Mouth Marketing

– by Andy Sernovitz –

1) Marketing doesn’t have to be hard

Word of mouth marketing can be so easy and obvious that everyone misses just how easy and obvious it is. You can start with steps as basic as a clever product name, a special service, a choice of uniform, or being a little bit nicer to your customers.

2) People love to talk

People talk about products and services. People talk about hair color, cars, computers, sandwiches, TV shows, and floor cleaner. The stuff they use every day. People are talking about you and what you sell right now. It might be a casual mention. It might be something really nice. Or it might be a scathing attack posted to Amazon, where 20 million people will read it before deciding whether to buy your stuff.

3) Make people happy

Treat people well and they will do your marketing for you, for free. When people trust you, they are willing to put their words on the line for you. Please them, inspire them, and they’ll bring their friends to you.

4) Earn respect by being honorable

Nobody talks positively about a company that they don’t trust or like. Nobody puts their name on the line for a company that will embarrass them in front of their friends. Make ethics part of everything you do. Make people proud to tell your story to everyone they know.

5) Advertising is the price of being boring

If your customers won’t talk about your stuff, you have to pay newspapers and TV shows to do it for you. If you bore your audience, then you’ll be forced to spend massive amounts of money on advertising to get their attention.

6) Word of mouth marketing works for any size business

You don’t need to have a hot website, to be in a sexy industry, or to have a cool, innovative new technology. You can make it work if you’re the one person who gets it inside a giant corporation. You can make it work for a single store with no advertising budget. You just have to give something for people to talk about.

7) Be interesting

Nobody talks about boring companies, boring products, or boring ads. If you want people to talk about you, you’ve got to do something special. Anything. If you are boring, you’ll never get a moment of conversation. Give people a reason to talk about you.

8) It’s not all about the Internet

One of the great misconceptions about word of mouth marketing is that it’s all happening online. Each and every one of us talks to a friend or family member before we buy something. We listen to our friends before we bother going to a store or restaurant. And we don’t just ask for advice – we also make recommendations about what we like and what we hated.

9) These strategies only work if your product or service is good

If your product or service sucks, no PR campaign, clever TV ad, or announcement on your website will make consumers believe that it doesn’t. Not anymore.

10) Make it easy

Word of mouth is lazy. You’ve got to help it along if you expect it to go anywhere. Find a super-simple message and help people share it. Good topics are portable, clear ideas that one person can repeat successfully.

11) People want to look smart and feel important

A lot of people get their kicks out of being the expert on their favorite subject. When we tell people about what to buy, we’re showing off what we know. Help these people look smarter. Give them newsletters, inside information, and technical details. More is better. They’ll love you for it.

12) We all want to feel connected to a group

The desire to be a part of a group is one of the most powerful human emotions. Talking about products is one way we achieve that connection. We share a bond with people who like the same teams or bands that we do, and we feel a similar connection with those who like the same cars or clothes. Working with this motivation is all about group recognition. It’s giving away T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, or temporary tattoos. It’s holding events and rallies that bring people together. Make people feel special, like they’re part of a family.

13) Mixing love and money is usually a bad idea

Offering customers incentives to spread the word about your stuff is often a mistake. Here’s why: You make them feel dirty if they’re paid for it. People engage in word of mouth because they love you or it makes them feel good. When you offer a monetary reward for a referral, you make it awkward and creepy. You can deeply insult a loyal talker by offering to pay them for doing it.

14) Overexposure kills word of mouth

When everyone knows about something, no one needs to talk about it. There’s an obvious but often overlooked aspect to word of mouth – it is inspired and kept going by newness.

15) Provide the tools to help your message spread further and further

Word of mouth marketers make their biggest impact when they provide the infrastructure to help messages travel. Even the best topics need a little help to spread.

16) Join the conversation

When you reach out to real people and encourage them to start talking about your brand, they expect you to participate. When people are talking about you, answer them. Reply to email messages, accept comments on your blog, participate in the discussion board, answer the phone. Be helpful, truthful, thankful, and nice.

17) Measure and understand what people are saying

Monitoring online communication lets you understand what consumers really think about your brand, your marketing, and your products. Because they are written down, these consumer-to-consumer conversations are easy to find and to measure – a major knowledge boon for marketers.

18) Word of mouth marketing isn’t deception

If you’re being sneaky or deceptive, you will get busted. Consumers today are incredibly savvy and independent, with the information and resources to catch you in a lie and tell everyone about it. The power of the consumer voice will make dishonest companies pay a steep price.

19) Consumers are in control

No longer do ad agencies, media executives, and reporters control the message. Real consumers with real communication power have added their voices to the mix. And their voices are drowning out traditional media. A single consumer voice, in the end, has far more impact than any ad could.