What is Word of Mouth Marketing?


If you heard about a marketing idea that could bring you more leads and sales, would you be interested in learning more about it? What about an old one that you dont pay much attention to any more but that you probably use to some extent without thinking about it? What about word of mouth marketing?

What exactly is Word of Mouth Marketing?

Entrepreneur.com describes word of mouth marketing (WOM or WOMM) as being An unpaid form of promotion in which satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product or service. Wommapedia.org says its  harnessing the power of people to build brand awareness.

Marketing concepts like buzz marketing, influencer marketing, viral marketing and social media marketing all comes under the banner of WOM but what theyre talking about basically all boils down to the same thing: getting customers to talk about you and tell others about your product.


The History of WOM

Its been around as a marketing concept since the 1970s when a psychologist (George Silverman) noticed that a One or two physicians who were having good experiences with a drug would sway an entire group of skeptics. They would even sway a dissatisfied group of ex-prescribers who had had negative experiences!

Why is WOM important?


There are a few reasons why word of mouth is as important as ever, despite our reliance on the web:

  • The traditional media newspapers, magazines, TV arent as effective as they used to be. As we all know, fewer of us are consuming them (Im as guilty as the next person), and we ignore banner ads online.
  • Intrusive marketing like direct mail, flyers and cold calling isnt effective because weve become immune to it now and see it as an annoyance.
  • The internet means there could be hundreds of companies out there doing the same thing you are, so you have to have a way of being found and standing out. People talking about you will give you at least some of the visibility you need.

The Stats

a person with 300 friends on Facebook may happily ignore the advice of 290 of them. Its the small, close-knit network of trusted friends that has the real influence.


Providers of local SEO tools, BrightLocal, found in a 2012 survey of consumers that

77% of people have recommended a local business to someone they know via WOM.

36% of company owners rate word of mouth as best for their business.

All they need to do is know how to harness that willingness to recommend for their own business. Easy, eh?

The importance of social media in spreading the word is important (especially Facebook), but still, conversations about brands are largely done offline В  90% of them, according to the authors of Face-t0-Face (and 75%, according to the Keller Fay Group).

Encouraging word of mouth conversations

However, with moreВ  of us than ever before getting our news online, and conversation topics being generated there, well need to split our efforts between online and offline.

In this article Ill suggest some methods and provide real-life examples on how local businesses can encourage word of mouth conversations.

Local Influencers

Bear in mind that your Facebook and Twitter fans arent the only ones you need to be targeting WOM campaigns with.

Only 1% of social media users create over half of the conversations, and those influencers spreading the word about your company will be a much quicker and more effective way of spreading the word. As well as helping to bring in new customers, theyll help to keep your brand in the minds of those who have already clicked your Like button but havent been back to your Facebook page since.

Another benefit of targeting influencers is that it doesnt devour too much in the way of resources: a survey by Technorati found that only 6% of companies marketing budgets were used up by it.

Ideally, you should be looking for global influencers in your niche as well as local influencers. Links from those top influencers can result it great quality links. However, in terms of word of marketing for local businesses, Ill look at finding local influencers.




Theres been a phenomenal rise in local bloggers in recent years who focus mainly on their local area. Get in touch with them they can do marvels for your business because they attend local events where theyll be able to mention your company if youve impressed them. And of course, locals in the area will be looking for information on their local area online.

Now Ive made a search on Google for bloggers Manchester and the third result that popped up was “The Manchizzle blog by Kate Feld, tagline “The pick of Manchester culture and hub of blogging goodness.

Its a great blog, but whats really interesting is a fantastic blogroll (list) of Manchester and North West England-based city and neighbourhood blogs, foodie blogs, and culture, fashion and design blogs down the side. Heres a selection:


Among these may very well be a blogger who wants to talk about your business or review you.

How to engage with local influencers when you find them

  • Retweet their content with a useful comment
  • Email them
  • Engage them in conversation on Twitter and Facebook
  • Ask them questions (not by direct messaging them)
  • Offer them a free product or service to review
  • And if youve referred to their content in a blog post, dont be shy: let them know.

Keep a track of the conversations youre having with a tool like Nimble or youll forget you who youve already contacted.

Deviate from the Expected

Conversations about brands or products begin when the experience of a purchased product deviates from the expected whether that be in a positive or negative way. Think about how youve reacted to something thats exceeded your expectations or disappointed you.

You may well have mentioned it to someone else. This could be to do with the product or, an advert or with a matter of customer support. Here are some examples of how companies have exceeded expectations:

Delivery, Packaging and Freebies

Etsy sellers have it down pat when it comes to going the extra mile. They need to because theyre in an extremely competitive market.

A personal example: Christmas 2012 I ordered a tie as a present and it came beautifully wrapped in a little crisp cellophane parcel tied with a ribbon (it was a beautiful tie, too). Ive told four people about that company and Ive bookmarked them for my next tie purchases (I know someone whos very fond of quirky ties).

As well as great packaging, Kelly provides free swatches, fantastic quality and fast delivery. Ill bet these happy customers have mentioned her to someone else:

“The ties were everything and more of what I had hoped for. Great Quality! You went above and beyond with the pocket squares. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I would refer you to anyone!!! Great service and fast delivery!!!

Heres feedback for another seller, RootsAndWingsJewelry

“Item received in a timely manner. packaging was fun and Eco-friendly, which I appreciate very much! “

And another, Micasita:

“Excellent pouch, fabric, sewing everything! And it came with stickers as a an Easter present.

How have these sellers deviated from the expected?

  • Fast delivery, a free sample or little extra present and great packaging are all ways to add quality, make you memorable and drive conversations. Dont promise fast delivery if it doesnt normally happen, though.
  • Bricks and mortar shops, use handouts and takeaways sweets, pens or even fridge magnets something to remind your customer to mention your company when they take the item out of their pocket at home.
  • Online companies like web designers and B2B, provide graphics with your logo, name and/or email address prominently displayed.


Conversation Triggers

Conversation triggers are small items that get a conversation started when other people see them. Heres an example from WordofMouth.org:

“Ive taken every business card that Ive received in the past ten years, glued my logo to the back, used a laminator to turn it into a luggage tag, and mailed it back to the person I just met. Ill bet that at least 5,000 people have my logo on their briefcase or suitcase. When they meet each other, they talk about my company. Thats a lot of word of mouth.

Ingenious, isnt it?

Buzz Marketing

Mark Hughes, author of Buzz Marketing says that the public will talk about you (offline and online) if you use some of the following in your campaigns:

  • The Unusual
  • The Remarkable
  • The Outrageous
  • The Taboo
  • The Hilarious