Book Preview: Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz

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My buddy Andy Sernovitz, the CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, is coming out with a new book called, duh, Word of Mouth Marketing.

I highly recommend this book because it was so practical, tactical, and hysterical. Here are the ten ideas, stories, and recommendations from the book that I liked the most:

  1. Companies could hire a customer service rep to cruise the Internet looking for kudos and complaints. When the rep finds kudos, he should thank the person. When the rep finds complaints, he should get it fixed. This is such a simple, effective idea—I doubt, therefore, that many companies will do it! 🙂
  2. Commerce Bank has a free change-counting machine in its branches that anyone can use. This beats the hell out of the machines in markets that take 7%.
  3. A study by the Verde Group showed that people who heard about a bad shopping experience are less likely to go to the same store than the person who actually had the bad experience.
  4. The most powerful word-of-mouth advocates might be the customers who have only done business with you once so far. They are the most excited; repeat customers are probably accustomed to the great product/service and therefore, ironically, less likely to talk about it.
  5. The Prostate Net, a not-for-profit educational organization, contacted 50,000 barbers to talk to their clients about prostate cancer detection and prevention.
  6. Incentives and rewards are likely to reduce word-of-mouth advertising because motivation becomes suspect. You can’t “buy” word-of-mouth advertising.
  7. The Wynn Las Vegas resort gave free rooms to cabbies to generate word-of-mouth advertising via this very influential part of the transportation infrastructure.
  8. Henkel Consumer Adhesives, the manufacturer of Duck Tape, sponsors a contest for college scholarships called “Stuck at Prom.” Is this funny or what?
  9. A word-of-mouth campaign, brought back “Family Guy” from the dead (that is, cancellation). How many tv series have you heard of coming back from the dead?
  10. Zappos has a one-year, no questions asked return policy for shoes. This boggles my mind although I’ve never heard of any woman return anything to Zappos.

Someday I hope to read about your kick-butt ideas in a book like this. Until then, your word-of-mouth marketing efforts will surely get a boost if you read this book.


By | 2016-10-24T14:24:51+00:00 August 27th, 2006|Categories: Marketing and Sales|44 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

44 Comments

  1. //aSaM// August 27, 2006 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Talking about word of mouth marketing, have you seen all the funky stuff at http://mydreamapp.com – it’s great, so much energy and enthusiasm and young talant, it’s like another breath of fresh air in the Mac community, it’s how the original revolution started, but this is just exploding.
    Groovy baby 🙂

  2. Futurelab's Blog August 27, 2006 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Book Preview: Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz

    by: Guy Kawasaki My buddy Andy Sernovitz, the CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, is coming out with a new book called, duh, Word of Mouth Marketing. I highly recommend this book because it was so practical, tactical,…

  3. Famous Teas August 28, 2006 at 12:48 am - Reply

    Stereotype vs. Reality, what Spiegel described 40 yrs ago.

    Signum sine tinnitu–by Guy Kawasaki: Book Preview: Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz: A study by the Verde Group showed that people who heard about a bad shopping experience are less likely to go to the same store than the person who actua…

  4. Arun's blog: pricing, processes, venturing August 28, 2006 at 12:53 am - Reply

    Three great ideas on word of mouth marketing

    I got these from Guy Kawasakis blog, where he previewed a book by Andy Sernovitz, the CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, called Word of Mouth Marketing. There are 10 ideas in all at his original post
    A study by the Ve…

  5. Managing the Gray August 28, 2006 at 3:30 am - Reply

    Word of Mouth

    Guy Kawasaki blogged about a new book called Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart People Get People Talking.
    It certainly sounds like a book that will be on my shelf soon because its all about the conversation and companies must begin to realize t…

  6. John Dodds August 28, 2006 at 4:24 am - Reply

    Interesting insights but I wonder if the act of praising any of the examples, (let’s say, the Wynn resort/cabbie campaign) would undermine it because we the public now have an awareness of rewards being involved and according to point 6 will react against this? Perhaps this mean that the most successful word of mouth campaigns are not actually campaigns at all but just excellent performance which inspires word of mouth.
    P.S. I can’t help but smile at the irony of Word of Mouth Marketing having an association!

  7. Jason Sanzone August 28, 2006 at 6:42 am - Reply

    Good stuff, I’m very excited about reading this one.

  8. Harry Chong August 28, 2006 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Word of mouth marketing works so well simply because it has credibility, like Toyota.

  9. Jack August 28, 2006 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Example number 11: Get Guy to love your product and have him post a rave review on his website.
    *************
    This can also work!
    Guy

  10. JC August 28, 2006 at 11:50 am - Reply

    We actually go a step further. We read our sites’ server and error logs and contact people directly who had issues with things like registration, making listings and so forth.
    Many lot of users will simply leave the website after a failure, rather than inform tech support.
    So, we try to build the error reporting system with enough information tracking that we can (hopefully) identify the email address of the person whose registration effort failed for whatever reason (most common reason: couldn’t handle the password length requirements).
    We then email the person and offer to do whatever is necessary to remedy the problem.
    It’s something to consider doing if you have the access to the logs and code.

  11. Mir August 28, 2006 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Hey, I’ve actually returned things to Zappos (sometimes stuff doesn’t fit, ya know). Not only does their policy cause us shoehounds to buzz amongst ourselves, their price-matching policies mean that I hardly ever order shoes from anywhere else; I’d much rather go where the great customer service is. I wish more online retailers did the Zappos model!

  12. alo August 28, 2006 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    this post give me the itchies. need the cure to fix me up from bad.

  13. Suicidal Industries August 28, 2006 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Bouche à oreilles 2.0

    Guy Kawasaki nous fait aujourdhui une autre intéressante shameless plug pour le livre Word of mouth marketing. Voici certaines des excellents exemples tirés de ce livre :
    Engager un représentant à la clientèle po…

  14. paullc August 28, 2006 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    To your point number 9, as I recall the third year of the original Star Trek series (way, way, back in the 60’s) was salvaged by fans after the show was initially canceled. I don’t recall the details; I’m sure there are those out there who do.

  15. Naples Florida Real Estate August 28, 2006 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Great post. There’s a pretty popular story about Nordstrom’s Department Store. A older lady came in complaining about her tires making a lot of noise. The lady was a regular customer in the store so the salesman could see that the problem really bothered her. He said, “Give me the receipt for your tires and your keys and I’ll have the problem solved.” Sure enough, he fixed her tire problem. What’s the point of the story? Nordstroms doesn’t sell tires! They’re a clothing store! It’s a true story that shows that sometimes going out of your way to help a customer will bring so much good-will to your business.

  16. Janine White August 28, 2006 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    If only companies would do #1! Often they make it difficult to report a problem, much less get proactive in discovering them. This weekend I was shopping for a laptop. Trying to get information about the specs, I tried to chat with a sales associate. When I wouldn’t give him my phone number right away, although it was specifically optional in the starting screen, he stopped responding and never even got to what my question was. I ended up spending about half an hour to call the company to reach a Supervisor because you can’t get one through chat. I waited on hold multiple times, then reported the problem. I never did get an answer to my question and they lost a sale. Even though the laptop from that company fits my requirements best and has the best price, I won’t buy from Gateway now because I don’t trust them to follow up if there is an issue.

  17. Damon Billian August 28, 2006 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    “Companies could hire a customer service rep to do cruise the Internet looking for kudos and complaints. When the rep finds kudos, he should thank the person. When the rep finds complaints, he should get it fixed. This is such a simple, effective idea—I doubt, therefore, that many companies will do it! 🙂 ”
    Hi Guy,
    I used to do something similar at PayPal (PayPaldamon). I think many companies are worried about two things:
    1. The representative will make a public mistake that harms the company.
    2. You would actually need a large team for a larger company.
    It seems like a lot of places want to centralize activity, something that can’t really be done with a decentralized place like the internet.

  18. Marilee Veniegas August 28, 2006 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    #1 and #5 are particularly important for a web-only based business. Customer comments and being thought leaders help a new business thrive. Plus, it’s better that you get your business’s name out in a manner you want than someone else taking the reins. Offer your customers easy to digest information to help them make a smart decision that fits them.

  19. Aaron August 28, 2006 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Not available until 11/1?! Looks like you plugged the book too soon.

  20. Michael Herzog August 29, 2006 at 12:17 am - Reply

    “So, we try to build the error reporting system with enough information tracking that we can (hopefully) identify the email address of the person whose registration effort failed…”
    Be careful with this strategy in an environment that is concerned about privacy. You might need to mention this in you privacy policy.

  21. Mike Johnston August 29, 2006 at 6:01 am - Reply

    “Moonlighting” was another show (Bruce Willis) that was brought back from cancelation after fans went crazy. 😉

  22. Jackie August 29, 2006 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Guy,
    Zappos doesn’t only sell women’s shoes. This post is way too clever to resolve in a trite “women & shopping, they can’t help themselves” ending. Why the cheap shot?
    **************
    Jackie,
    I hope this is the harshest criticism you can ever make about my blog!
    Guy

  23. shuchetana August 29, 2006 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Number 4: new customers should always be focused on. Initially, the motive should be to change them from first-timers to repeat buyers, which is a very important transition in terms of backorders.
    Number 6: rewards for word of mouth would ignite suspicion. However, unexpected freebies and exceptional service (changing tires, etc) definitely generate a lot of positive w-o-m.
    The focus should be on creating delighted customers, not on creating positive buzz.

  24. W.P. Wily August 29, 2006 at 7:57 am - Reply

    “1. Companies could hire a customer service rep to *do* cruise the Internet”
    Excess word.
    Number 4 seems generally true in my business (software) as far as numbers go, although I will counter with the observation that our best “evangelists” are long-time customers, although there are fewer of them.
    This looks like a good one, I’ve already put it on my Amazon wish list.
    From what I remember Star Trek was the first show ever saved by a write-in campaign.

  25. Ellen Sandoval August 29, 2006 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Um, I am a woman and I have returned shoes to Zappos. Why? As a mom, traipsing around to 12 stores with unhappy barefoot kids is not an option. And forget about ME trying on shoes! I simply spend a fortune and buy about 6 likely shoes, try them at home, and return all but one. It is such an amazing service; I can’t recommend it enough!

  26. Marilee Veniegas August 29, 2006 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    shuchetana makes a good point about #4, your existing customer testimonials can give good buzz to new people you are trying to attract to your business. Depending on your services, it’s that tricky shift from those “Innovators/Early Adopters” to “Majority/Mainstream” people using your product. Innovator testimonials can help drive that business shift to help your business grow.

  27. michaele August 29, 2006 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    I, a woman, have returned several pairs of shoes to Zappos–if I am unsure of a size for myself or my kids, I will get two pairs and keep the ones that fit. My husband has bought shoes from Zappos all by himself so it’s not just us shoe-holics. The other thing I love about Zappos is the super-fast shipping. I work, I have young kids, I am NOT into going to the mall and wasting my time–and why bother when I can go to a web site at midnight, order some shoes and have them at my door in 2 days?

  28. jim Forbes August 29, 2006 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    Great post on a good book. I linked to it Guy. Good work.
    Jim Forbes

  29. Matthew Stibbe (Bad Language) August 29, 2006 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    How easy is it to spot a successful word of mouth campaign BEFORE it has succeeded. For example, although campaigns to bring back Star Trek, Moonlighting, Family Guy and (apparently) Futurama were successful. Other shows with vociferous fan bases stayed canned. I wonder if there is any way of spotting likely winners or if there are differences in approach that mean some campaigns succeed and others fail. I think a lot of business books fall into the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ fallacy. In other words, a result occurred after an action so the action MUST have caused the result. Not always so.
    *************
    Still, this beats “after the season we got canceled.” Sorry, I don’t know enough Latin to translate this.
    You and Bob Sutton would get along. I believe that if it required rigorous scientific proof to write a business book, there would be none.
    Guy

  30. Robert August 30, 2006 at 1:59 am - Reply

    What I think is interesting is that many ideas where touched on in “The Tipping Point”, the popular book that came out in the late ninety’s. This was long before the kind of things we see now in the Web that are making these ideas so important.

  31. Grace August 30, 2006 at 2:40 am - Reply

    I wonder what types of products #4 applies to? When it comes to cars, my dad is definitely doing more than his share of word of mouth for Toyota. In any car related discussion, he can’t stop praising the japanese car maker. We (or he’s) bought FOUR Toyotas in a span of 5-7 years (to my dismay because I’ve been hoping to see the day I get to drive a European car). He isn’t even replacing old cars — he just keeps adding! I think he secretly wants to be on their ‘Customer of the Decade’ list / award if there ever was one.
    Thanks for the post.

  32. Jarin Udom August 31, 2006 at 7:41 am - Reply

    Navy Federal Credit Union also has the coin counting machine, and also holds free monthly home-buying and personal finance seminars after normal business hours. 🙂

  33. Todd Tweedy August 31, 2006 at 9:17 am - Reply

    I believe word-of-mouth really comes down to the concept of the advocating customer. Regardless, Feel free to read BoldMouth’s study on word of mouth marketing. The study was conducted by Osterman Research and is titled Perceptions, Practices and Ethics in Word of Mouth Marketing. The study has been downloaded over 20,000 times since being released in mid-May earlier this year. Here’s a link to the pdf:
    http://www.boldmouth.com/studies/word_of_mouth_marketing_research_boldmouth.pdf
    What do you think about the recommendations section?
    Looking forward to your feedback.
    Todd Tweedy
    BoldMouth

  34. olivier blanchard August 31, 2006 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    It’s pretty cool to see WOM stuff show up on your blog, Guy. Andy’s a pretty cool guy. I’ll definitely buy his book now.

  35. David Givoni September 3, 2006 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    I’m a bit confused over no.6 on the list, that incentivicing the “evangelists” will cause motivation to be seen as suspect.
    I understand the point, but then again I remember watching your “art of the start”-speech or was it the panel discussion where the exact contrary point was made: That it is very important to care about those customers who do the favor of recommending your services.
    One example is the MVP program that Microsoft has, and I’d guess that it works for them, since they’re still continuing it.
    I think I’d be inclined to incentivice although the risk is there.

  36. Russell Page September 4, 2006 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    The power of the mouth

    A study by the Verde Group showed that people who heard about a bad shopping experience are less likely to go to the same store than the person who actually had the bad experience.
    The most powerful word-of-mouth advocates might be the customers…

  37. Coffee Strategies - Ideas for Coffee Shop Success September 7, 2006 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    Word of Mouth Marketing

    Guy Kawasaki, startup evangalist and author of popular business guides including The Art of the Start, promotes Andy Sernovitzs new book Word of Mouth Marketing, which seems a promising source to offer helpful advice for retail coffee shop mark…

  38. André Hedetoft September 30, 2006 at 3:31 am - Reply

    I’ll just quote Seth. “Things worth talking about will get talked about”. But not without a little luck and something in it for the person doing the talking.
    So the big question is this:
    Who is the people talking to a lot of people during their everyday life? And why should they care about your product/service/story?
    André Hedetoft
    Movie-geek
    Just created a game where you get to play with my real life over at http://www.andrehedetoft.com

  39. Word of Mouth Book October 14, 2006 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Guy Kawasaki’s Fantastic Contribution

    Guy is both a friend and an inspiration, and I’m thrilled that he was willing to contribute the afterword for this book. It’s not the first favor he’s done for me, and I look forward to returning it. Read his…

  40. Jim Peake December 1, 2006 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Word of Mouth Marketing is Book of the Week at www.mysuccessgateway.com

  41. David Unleashed December 23, 2006 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Andy Sernovitz, eSocialist or Cluetrain Opportunist?

    We are getting close to the Christmas holiday so I was feeling somewhat compelled to be charitable and back off of the Cluetrain Gang until after the holiday. That was until I was sitting down catching up on my industry readings including the December…

  42. Word of Mouth Book January 6, 2007 at 6:38 am - Reply

    First Blog Post: Guy Kawasaki’s Review

    Special thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the first review. This article ended up becoming the afterword to the book. Link…

  43. Word of Mouth Book January 6, 2007 at 6:40 am - Reply

    First Blog Post: Guy Kawasaki’s Review

    Special thanks to Guy Kawasaki for the first review. This article ended up becoming the afterword to the book. Guy’s early support helped make this book possible. It happened after we bumped into each other at the eBay Live conference…

  44. The Winery Web Site Report July 17, 2007 at 6:00 am - Reply

    Word of Mouth Marketing

    Based on my wacky belief that the best way to sell more wine is to get people talking about your wine, I point you to Guy Kawasaki’s book preview of Andy Sernovitz’s Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get

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