Financial Data
Updated 27 Sep 2020

Word of mouth marketing

From restaurants to cars, bands or dry cleaners, some businesses and products are loved and become huge successes without much promotion.

Smart companies get people talking about them. In his bookWord of Mouth MarketingAndy Sernovitz describes exactly how companies of all sizes create passionate, loyal fans that do their marketing for them, for free.

Sernovitz says there are hundreds of ways to get people talking, but you only need one to change your business forever. A silly something, a special moment, service with a smile — anything worth talking about. To build your word of mouth marketing plan, you need to walk through what he calls the Five Ts and apply each one.

  1. Talkers: Find people who will talk about you like fans, customers, bloggers and influencers.
  2. Topics: Give people a reason to talk, such as a special offer, great service, cool product, silliness, clever ad, or a new feature.
  3. Tools: Help the message spread faster and farther with tell-a-friend forms, viral email, blogs, handouts, samples, coupons and online discussions.
  4. Taking Part: Join the conversation by replying to feedback, participating in social media and joining discussions
  5. Tracking: Measure and understand what people are saying. Search blogs, read online discussions, listen to feedback, and use advanced measurement tools.

Tips and Advice

Sernovitz offers four great suggestions to get your word of mouth marketing off the ground:

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.

Your word of mouth will fall flat on its face. (Actually, it will just fade away, unnoticed.) Before you run an ad, before you launch a product, before you put something new on the menu, ask the magic question: Would anyone tell a friend about this?

Make It Easy.

Word of mouth is lazy. You’ve got to help it along if you expect it to go anywhere. You need to do two things: Find a super-simple message and help people share it. Start with a topic that anyone can remember.

Something like, “Our software doesn’t crash,” or “They have choco­late cream cheese!” or “They give you snacks while you’re waiting for a table,” Anything longer than a sentence is too much. It’ll get forgotten or mangled.

Make People Happy.

Happy customers are your greatest advertisers. Thrill them. Create amazing products. Provide excellent service. Go the extra mile. Make the experience remarkable. Fix problems.

Make sure the work you do gets people energised, excited, and eager to tell a friend. When people like you, they share you with their friends. They want to help you, they want to support your business, and they want their friends to enjoy what you offer. You will get more word of mouth from making people happy than anything else you could possibly do.

Earn Trust and Respect.

If you don’t have respect, you don’t get good word of mouth. 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.

Always be an honourable company. Make ethics part of everything you do. Be good to your customers. Talk to them. Fulfil their needs. Make people proud to tell your story to everyone they know.

Word of Mouth Online

With more and more people sharing their views and opinions on public platforms, online word of mouth has become increasingly important.


You need to know what the word on the street is regarding your services and products. Monitoring and engagement tools provide businesses with real time information that also helps them to solve customer problems that may come to light.

  • Google Alerts provide you with updates on what’s being said on the web and social platforms about your topic, client and his/her competitors on a daily or “as-it-happens” basis. The alerts are a must for anyone in marketing or PR who needs to stay on top of the news, a client, the competition, or industry trends. Google Alerts
  • SocialMention is like Google Alerts, but for social media. You’ll get email alerts about what’s being said on social media platforms.
  • CyberAlert is a powerful word of mouth monitoring tool for reputation management (public relations), market intelligence (marketing and brand management), consumer insight (market research), competitive intelligence, investor relations, and intellectual property infringement.

Seeding Online Conversations

Get people talking by planting a seed – a question, observation, piece of advice or new idea. If it’s interesting enough, your audiences will respond and you can keep the conversation going, all the while building your brand and positioning your business as an industry expert.