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  • Writer's picturePatrick Drenkelforth

What is Word-of-Mouth Advertising?

If a friend of yours is wearing a shirt, or tying a tie that you like, or enjoys eating at a wonderful restaurant—you ask them where they’re getting it. Did they tell you it’s the best in town? Did they mention prices are affordable?

Throughout history, word of mouth and recommendations have been invaluable to companies, organizations and individuals.

In this post, you will get a first-hand word of mouth meaning…

¿What is Word-Of-Mouth Advertising?

If you run a small business, or you’re tasked with marketing a business, the best tool you have is word of mouth advertising. According to Nielsen, 92% of people around the world said they trust recommendations from friends and family (earned media) above all other forms of advertising.

¿What is the meaning of word of mouth advertising?

Word of mouth (WOM) is simply an unpaid form of promotion in which satisfied customers tell their acquaintances how much they like a business, product or service, and it works.

WOM advertising is relevant for each business, as each happy customer can bring dozens of new ones your way. And it's one of the most credible forms of advertising because a person puts their reputation on the line every time they make a recommendation, just looking for the appreciation of those who are listening.

¿What is an example of word of mouth advertising?

Brilliant Examples of Word-of-Mouth Marketing are:

  • Pinterest. Pinterest thrives on user-generated content.

  • Threadless. Growing a community is an invaluable way to gain insight about your audience while grooming brand advocates.

  • Coca-Cola.

  • Dropbox.

  • Casper Mattress Company.

Other examples include product giveaways, brand ambassador programs and buzzworthy experiences created for customers and influencers.

¿Why is word of mouth advertising important?

For any brand, WOM recommendations are a crucial marketing tool, because since they come from sources familiar to us already, and due to the 'buzz' user-generated content can induce, they're more trustworthy and valuable (friends and family).

¿Why does WOM work?

WOM works extremely well for numerous reasons:

  1. If you’ve checked ad rates for newspaper placements or web-based marketing you know that advertising can be expensive. WOM it’s free advertising.

  2. WOM is reliable. It comes from a friend, a neighbor or some other source in whom you have trust.

  3. WOM is viral. It spreads on its own and can spread exponentially as more people hear about the latest and greatest from friends and family.

  4. WOM is “sticky.” You’re more likely to remember one recommendation from a neighbor than a TV ad that you’ve seen a dozen times. Difference? TV and print ads try to sell you something without knowing much about you, while friends just share good news.

  5. WOM advertising is easy to create if you deliver the products or services that people expect.

The downside to WOM? Bad WOM spreads just as quickly as positive WOM. If you don’t deliver to expectations, negative WOM can destroy your business.

How to Create Positive WOM

First step is to encourage your target market to try your products or services. People recommend products they have tried. So, offer free something that gets prospects talking about your business delivers quality products or services.

Second step, turn your prospects into stakeholders or insiders. We all like to be the first to “discover” a new product that we know others will also enjoy. Create a forum, a blog or some other means to make buyers feel like stakeholders. This creates brand loyalty.

Third step, deliver on your promises. Deliver the quality. Meet delivery schedules. Respect the needs of prospects and do whatever it takes to create happy consumers who will talk up your business with others who’d be interested in knowing more about what your company does.

You can buy coffee at a lot of places for less than you pay at Starbucks for a $5 vente latte - but you may not get the service, the quality of the coffee beans and the cushy sofas and chairs Starbucks offers its customers. Starbucks® is the perfect example of a company that delivers and respects its customer base.

Fourth step: Fix broken business relationships. Bad word of mouth is corrosive. It turns prospects into critics who tell others about their disappointing experiences with your retail outlet or service company. It can do more damage than a single bad review because, again, WOM can spread like a virus from one potential buyer to another.

By fixing a bad customer or client experience, you may turn critics into a powerful sales force that delivers more customers and clients as word spreads about the quality of your business. In fact, a critic who’s converted to a satisfied customer may be more dedicated to spreading positive WOM.

Tips to help you generate word-of-mouth

Go above and beyond. When a customer experiences more of what was expected, word-of-mouth is triggered. Slightly exceeding their expectations itsn´t enough. If you want your customers to talk about you, you've got to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Your staff is human. Don't depend on your staff to trigger word-of-mouth by delivering "exceptional customer experience." The good customer who receives exceptional service today can't be sure their friends will receive the same tomorrow. Deep down, customers know service comes from an individual, not from an establishment. And even the best people have bad days.

Physical above verbal. In triggering word-of-mouth, more Physical, nonverbal statements are the most dependable. These statements can be architectural, generous or kinetic, but they must go far beyond the boundaries of what's normal. If you don't want to be average, don´t insist on being normal.


  • Do you remember when McDonalds began building attached playgrounds to all their restaurants? It's worked like magic for more than 20 years. Architectural.

  • The magical, twirling knives of the tableside chefs at Benihana. Kinetic.

  • Are you the jewelry store that's willing to become known for replacing watch batteries at no charge, even when the customer hasn't purchased anything and didn't buy the watch from your store? Generous.

Budget to deliver the experience that will trigger word-of-mouth. Sometimes, your word-of-mouth budget will be incremental, so that its cost is tied to your customer count. Other times it'll require a capital investment, so that repayment will have to be withheld from your advertising budget over a period of years.

Don't promise it in your ads. These promises will only eliminate the possibility of your customers becoming your ambassadors and deliver the good news.

Bottom line

Bottom line on WOM? WOM is free, and it works. Use it to your advantage and grow your business with lower marketing costs and higher numbers of repeat buyers. That’s the definition of business success.

¿Looking for an app to make WOM? Download M2M, make money with WOM and spread the word to your family and friends.


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