By: Regine Azurin and Yvette Pantilla
This article is based on the following book:
George Silverman, Amacom 2001
Spread the word about your hot new product or company!
Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful and persuasive
weapon you can use, and it won't cost you anything! Based on
George Silverman's years of consulting with successful
word-of-mouth campaigns of his own clients, here is one of
the first resources on how to harness the often
underestimated power of word-of-mouth, and be heard above
the media noise.
1. Word-of-mouth is actually the center of the marketing
2. Just as it is untrue that the sun revolves around the
earth, marketing does not really revolve around
advertising, selling, and promotions. Much of marketing
actually centers around illusion-creation.
3. Word-of-mouth offers an authenticity to it because the
source is normally independent of the company, he or she
is offering his or her own candid opinion and therefore,
the marketing appears credible.
4. Advertising is the renting of a medium to send out a
carefully crafted message to a specific audience.
Everything is paid for, whereas word-of-mouth is a more
effective tool; and best of all, it is absolutely free.
5. Word-of-mouth can take on a life of its own. There are
no limits to how far-reaching it can be. Just study how
fast a good joke on the e-mail circulates.
6. Studies have shown that a satisfied customer will tell
an average of three people about a product or service she
likes, and eleven people about a product or service with
which she had a negative experience.
7. Because this is the age of the Internet, e-mail, websites,
chat rooms, and video teleconferencing, word-of-mouth is
even more important to businesses today than ever before.
8. The most important way by which sales can increase is by
increasing the speed with which decisions are made.
Decision speed is the time it takes for your customer to
go from initial awareness to enthusiastic use and
recommendation of your product or service. Simplicity,
ease, and fun govern the decision process.
9. Marketing success is determined more by the time it takes
for your customer to decide on your product than by any
other single factor. Decision speed is more powerful than
positioning, image, value, customer satisfaction,
guarantees, or even product superiority.
10. Shortening the customer's decision cycle means your
product's benefits, claims, and promises must be obvious
and compelling; information must be clear, balanced, and
credible; comparisons must reveal meaningful differences,
your trials should be free and easy, your evaluations,
clear and simple. Guarantees should be ironclad and
generous. Testimonials and other word-of-mouth marketing
must be relevant and believable. Delivery, training, and
support offered must be superior.
11. A good way to spread the word on your company is to
circulate true, positive stories about it. FedEx is
famous for its legendary employee who hired a chopper
just to deliver a package forgotten on the tarmac. People
love a good story, and that is the essence of word of
12. There are 9 levels of word-of-mouth. They range from the
public scandal of minus 4, the product boycott of minus 3,
to the raving customers/advocates who tell you how great
your product or service is (plus 3) to the "talk of the
town" level (plus 4).
13. Examples of those who have reached plus 4 level of
word-of-mouth marketing are:
14. Lexus Automobiles, Saturn Car Company, Harley-Davidson,
Netscape Navigator, Celestial seasonings herbal tea, The
Internet, and Apple Computer
15. Some ways of harnessing word of mouth are by using
experts like customers, suppliers, salespeople, experts'
roundtable discussions and selling groups. Take
advantage of seminars, workshops, and speaking
engagements, dinner meetings, teleconferenced panel
discussions, and trade shows. "Canned" Word of Mouth
consists of putting out videotapes, audiotapes, using a
well-designed website, or distributing CDs. There are
also ways such as referral selling programs, testimonials,
and networking methods, hotlines (1-800 numbers) and
16. Using traditional media for Word of Mouth means using
customer service as a word-of-mouth engine, public
relations, placements, unusual events, promotions, word of
mouth in ads, sales brochures, or direct mail,
salesperson programs, sales stars, peer training, or
using salespeople as word-of-mouth generators,
word-of-mouth incentive programs ("Tell-a-friend"
programs), useful gifts to customers (articles, how-to
manuals) that they can give their friends.
17. Employees should be actively spreading word of mouth
about your products. Spread stories around about examples
of superior customer service. Give people a common
mission and make rewards dependent on the accomplishment
of that mission.
18. Word of mouth accelerates the process of customer
decision-making, from deciding to decide, asking for
information, weighing options, evaluating a free trial,
and then finally becoming a customer and advocate.
19. With customer-oriented service, your company can
increase sales via word of mouth.
Specific steps in creating a word of mouth campaign:
1. Find some way to get the product into the hands of key
2. Provide a channel for the influencers to talk and get all
fired up about your product.
3. Gather testimonials and endorsements, like actual letters
4. Form an ongoing group that meets once a year in a resort
but once a month by teleconference or daily by list group
5. Create fun events to bring users together and invite
non-users. Saturn, Harley-Davidson, and Lexus have been
successful with this approach.
6. Produce cassettes, videotapes, and clips on your Web
site featuring enthusiastic customers talking with other
enthusiastic customers. Custom-create some CDs for each
7. Conduct seminars and workshops
8. Create a club with membership benefits
9. Pass out flyers. Tell friends. Offer special incentives
and discounts for friends who tell their friends.
10. Use the Internet!
11. Do at least one outrageous thing to generate word of
12. Empower employees to go the extra mile.
13. Network and brainstorm for ideas
14. Run special sales
15. Script! Tell people exactly what to say in their word
of mouth communication.
By: Regine P. Azurin and Yvette Pantilla
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