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Book Summary: The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

By:  Regine Azurin and Yvette Pantilla


This article is based on the following book:

The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

"How to trigger exponential sales through runaway word of mouth"

George Silverman, Amacom 2001

ISBN 0-8144-7072-6

272 pages



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

    of praise.

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

    potential customer.

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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