Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking

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Word of Mouth MarketingGreat marketing strategies never go out of style for a reason – because they WORK.  Word of mouth is one of those strategies.  It doesn’t cost a fortune and it works like crazy.  Then, when you add the latest social media tools, you have word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.

Enter Andy Sernovitz (@sernovitz) , the leader of SocialMedia.org, the community for social media leaders at the world’s greatest brands and WordofMouth.org, where marketers and entrepreneurs learn to be great at word of mouth marketing.  Andy taught word of mouth marketing at Northwestern University (home of the great marketing guru Philip Kotler for all you die-hard marketing enthusiasts) and he also taught internet entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business.  Whew – that was a mouthful.  To this mix, get ready to add Word of Mouth MarketingL How Smart Companies Get People Talking.

I received an advanced review copy and couldn’t wait to dig in because this is one of these books that I would buy without blinking an eye because it’s also got a forward by Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog) and an Afterword by Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki).  It’s like getting three great marketing minds in one book!  Who could resist?

What makes Word of Mouth Marketing Worth Reading?

Every time I receive a book (especially one on a topic I’m nuts about) I ask myself three questions:

  1. What sets it apart from the myriad other books on the same topic?
  2. Who will get the most out of this book?
  3. What will they get out of this book that will make their business more profitable?

Hopefully, my telling you this doesn’t make my future reviews predictable, rather my intent is to let you know that I read all of these books with a critical eye for usefulness and practicality.

With that in mind, let’s get to answering these questions for you.

What’s Word of Mouth Marketing Got that other Word of Mouth Marketing Books Don’t?

For starters Word of Mouth Marketing is written by a subject matter expert who happens to be a great writer.  This is a big plus in my book.  Sernovitz has both practical and academic experience on the topic and does a brilliant job of balancing his knowledge and experience with good writing that you will understand and implement without too much effort.

Rounded corners.  I know this seems silly to bring out in a book review and might only be relevant to those of you who purchase the book in physical form.  But the first thing I noticed is that it had rounded corners and a cover with texture.  When you open the book, you’ll notice that there are wonderfully engaging and interesting design elements sprinkled throughout the content.  I’m mentioning this because it proves some of the philosophy in word of mouth marketing – give them something to talk about.

Fresh ideas from the best word of mouth marketing campaigns.  Don’t underestimate the power of fresh inspiration.  Because Sernovitz has been the CEO of GasPedal, a word of mouth marketing company and created the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, you can just imagine the connections and access that he has to the most successful word of mouth marketing programs and examples.  My review copy didn’t have an index in the back so I can’t be sure that I’m correct on this – but I was THRILLED to see that Zappos and Apple and the several other over-used examples of great campaigns were NOT included in this book.  Instead, you’ll find examples of companies and campaigns that might surprise you such as Dell and Microsoft MVPs.

Who Will Get the Most out of Word of Mouth Marketing?

Entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, and micro-business owners will get THE MOST out of this book.  The biggest challenge for you guys is that the book will throw case studies and examples at you and YOU will have to work out the details to implement them.

My recommendation is to keep a running list of ideas that you’d like to implement.  Then when you’re done with the book, go through the ideas and choose the top 3 that interest you the most.

Then for each of those top three, take about an hour to plan exactly what you would do, what has to be done and who you will need to help you put the strategy in place.  Once you’ve finished that, pick the one you can implement the quickest, easiest and cheapest way possible.  If you just pick any of them and jump in – you will struggle or implement poorly and fail.  That isn’t the author’s intention.

Marketing and product managers at larger organizations will enjoy the ideas and case studies.  But you guys might struggle with getting some of the ideas through the approval process.  I think the weeding-out and strategizing process I describe above is a good exercise for you as well.  Your management team or board of directors is open to great marketing, but you will have to map out the process, the strategies, the resources, costs and outcomes that you’re going to track.

What are YOU Going to Get Out of Word of Mouth Marketing That Will Make You Money?

This book doesn’t just have case studies and ideas – it has checklists and plan outlines that will help you get your thinking in order.  Not only that, but I’d recommend that you check out the additional resource web sites that Sernovitz includes such as: Word Of Mouth and Damn I Wish.   Both of these sites are loaded with the latest thinking and ideas on word of mouth marketing.

What’s Missing That Would Blow The Roof Off Your Experience?

This isn’t really one of my questions, but it’s becoming something that I look for and notice when it’s missing in a book or an article – what’s missing that would blow the roof off my experience?  Well, an index would be nice so that I can quickly find all the companies they listed and mentioned throughout the book.

This is getting really picky on my part.  But I’m being THIS picky because there is SO MUCH great stuff in here, I don’t want anyone to fail at implementing any of these strategies.  Maybe this would be a workbook or a course or something.  I would love to have even MORE focus and hand holding on actually creating a word of mouth strategy.  I’m thinking about getting people off of the LARGEST hump that they will encounter – getting started.  I’m sure that when you read these ideas, you will get inspired and excited, but you won’t know HOW to begin or WHAT to do first.  That’s what was missing for me.

Grab This Book And Go!

I don’t know about you – but this is a book I’m going to hang on to and keep close at hand.  My hardest decision right now is whether or not to grab the kindle/digital version to keep on my mobile devices in case I want to refer to it to generate new and creative ideas.

If you’re going to have a word of mouth marketing book for 2012 – this is the one to choose.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

5 Reactions
  1. Word of Mouth Marketing is definitely easier these days with all of the social media platforms available today. I hope to check out this book soon!

  2. Definitely,will grab a copy of this book. Based on my experience, we get clients from referrals of my existing clients which are great because it helps in advertising my services for free.

  3. Hi Ivana,

    Thanks for this recommendation and post! I’ve already sent this article through our social media channels and am definitely going to check out this book.

    I look forward to reading more articles from you.


  4. Great review and awesome post, and here are some facts. An outstanding 92% of people trust in recommenadtions from people they know* and 70% of them trust on consumer opinions posted online*, can you imagine the potential that this represent for the small business who can take advantage of developing, managing and marketing their reputation online?

    *Source: Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey. Q3 2011

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