Word Of Mouth in a Nutshell

February 15, 2007 Blog 9 comments

Word of Mouse in Action!

I am currently reading the Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, a book by George Silverman, which I borrowed from the National Library. Fascinating stuff in there with some explanation of how one can make Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing work.

Let me highlight two key learning points. First is the Buying Decision Process. Those who studied Marketing 101 may be familiar with this. The stages are as follows:

Stage 1: Deciding to Decide – Going from disinterested to actively investigating your product/ service.

Stage 2: Choosing among Options
a) Identifying them
b) Studying them
c) Weighing the pros and cons

Stage 3: Trial – Observing the product/ service in use and evaluating its performance

Stage 4: Purchasing/ Implementing/ Using – Becoming a real customer (yeah, the cash only moves at this stage!)

Stage 5: Expanding Use and Recommending – Becoming a regular and perhaps even an advocate of the product or service

Next up would be the actual Word Of Mouth (WOM) process. According to Silverman, it goes like this:

1) Figure out why someone should buy your product/ service in the first place, and do it from his or her perspective as a customer. What are your unique selling points? What makes your product or service especially valuable? See also my earlier entry on Purple Cows.

2) Single out the predominant adopter type (s) that you need to be going after – innovator, early adopter, middle majority, late majority, laggard – in your various markets. This is related to the product life cycle. Generally speaking, a recently launched product will be more popular with innovators and early adopters compared to one which has been in market for some time.

3) Study the crucial decision stages (see above) specific to your product. In other words, will the pre-purchase stages of decision making be more important or the post-sales experience?

4) Develop the actual content – words or ideas that trigger WOM – that you need to accelerate the process. This depends on who your target audiences are. Innovators will be more interested in something far out and new, while the late majority and laggards will prefer more risk free and safe approaches.

5) Determine the sources, channels and delivery mechanisms of WOM that will be most convincing and motivational. There are some 30 different ways (yes, its not just blogs and emails!) to harness this. They include anything from expert roundtables, seminars and workshops, videos and audios (vodcasts and podcasts?), testimonials, call centres, PR, advertising, WOM incentive programmes (“tell-a-friend”), forums, emails and so on.

6) Create and implement the WOM campaign. This is where the rubber meets the road.

WOM is easier said than done I suppose. Still, it may be worth a try for anybody in the business of marketing.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. very informative post, walter!

    i like the fact that your blog seems to be a book – u know those, “how to be a successful busniess person” type of book. hehehe!

    WOM is important especially when it comes to smaller businesses. Just like me – i started out the sale of pineapple tarts with a really small circle, but of course giving out samples and asking people to try and pass around.

    I really can feel the impact of WOM because it is what that keeps the orders in! i reckon that my tarts are not the best (i wont even say they are good), but probably because the people who introduced the tarts to them (like my relatives for eg), are really pushing hard for me and thats why the customers decided to get theirs.

    I would like to know more about “create and implement” WOM campaign? what does that mean? heehee dun mind sharing~

    great entry!

  2. woah brudder…word of mouse…wahahahaha!!

    anyhoo, I got real corny friends who could do wonders with the word of mouse thing..but erm..its good not to know them lah..can be quite a pain.. :p

  3. Walter,
    I add your blog in The Chain Gang which is a link for more blog traffic. Pls write a post about it and you may add on your own favourite blogs.

    Read my blog for the info and pls dun break the chain.

    Is this considered an example of WOM?

  4. etel,

    Thanks so much for the flattering comments. I think there are lots of other blogs out there providing marketing advice. What I do is to try to distil the essence of what they are about and present it in a simple and easy to understand manner. Not always successful though but I try.

    I think that in creating and implementing a word of mouth campaign, you need to look at how you can make it rewarding or fun for your customers to tell others about you. Of course, the product or service should be different (eg personalised attention or home-baked goodness made with 100% natural ingredients or that you are supporting a genuine home-based business!). You can then look at crafting an email or a simple card or note that people can help to pass around. It can say something which is personal and genuine, and maybe offer a discount.

    There are also other things you can do like offer the referral a commission (or more tarts!), organise a “How to Bake Pineapple Tarts at Home” cooking class, offer free samples to leading bloggers so that they can tell others about it and so on. Of course how you do it is also important.

    I really should think about starting a consultancy practice… hehe

  5. Hi Walter, Thanks for sharing.

    I am still digesting some of the concepts and figuring out how to apply them to the classical music scene.

    Gosh, I just hope that it won’t take me ages to do so.

  6. hi Walter,
    I would like to wish you and your family a Very Happy Chinese New Year…Have a wonderful celebration. I have always enjoyed reading your blog.
    Take care…!

  7. ammoontie,

    Thanks for the greeting! Have a good holiday too and hope that it will be refreshing and rejuvenating for you. I took half day off this afternoon for a much needed sleep. 😉

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