Book Review: Word of Mouth Marketing
Note: This review is of the 2012 text. Based on the Table of Contents on Amazon, it looks like the top-level outline is the same.
Back in 2012 I had the opportunity to attend the Word of Mouth Marketing conference. As an added bonus, they included a box of the Word of Mouth Marketing book by Andy Sernovitz. The conference was amazing, and when I came back I had a giant box of books on my desk. In the rush of post-conference bliss, I put my copy away and didn’t end up coming back to it for another year or so when I was doing a book purge.
So, how did the book stack up?
It’s important to note that this book is not specifically about social media. While it does touch on using social media, the focus is on the broader concept of inspiring great word of mouth conversations. If you’re expecting an in-depth analysis of social channels, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re interested in the bigger picture view of word of mouth marketing, then you’re on the right track!
TLDR; A solid starting point for anyone looking to inspire genuine conversation about their brand. Be it a small local business or a large corporation, the principles in this book are a great foundation for building inspired word of mouth conversations about your brand.
To be blunt, a lot of what’s in this book (particularly in the first 50 pages) can be described as common sense. However, as the old adage goes ‘common sense isn’t all that common’. While some of the core points are quite basic, the examples, checklists, and accompanying worksheets are when the book really shine. It’s one thing to know that you need to reach out to your engaged ‘talkers’, and another to understand and plan out what that looks like in a real world context.
One thing I really appreciated about this book was the clear focus on being honest and genuine in all of your efforts. From the way you build your product, to trade shows, online, and in person. As the author is quick to point out, word of mouth marketing is not deception. If you have a bad product, or participate in unethical practices, no amount of marketing is going to save you. Word of mouth marketing is about building trust and giving your customers a voice. It is not about stealth marketing, or other attempts at tricking your audience. Instead, Sernovitz focuses on the ways in which you can build trust and create truly remarkable customer experiences. It’s a really positive read, and contains examples from a variety of industries.
For me, learning more about the ways in which you can encourage word of mouth marketing offline was a big win. When you focus most of your efforts around social media, it’s easy to overlook the things you could be doing in real life to further your impact. Building ambassador programs is daunting, but including small real world benefits into your strategy can create amazing word of mouth. Word of mouth marketing is about far more than just social media, and learning how to look at the larger picture is a great first step towards creating a fantastic customer experience.
On that note, the one part of the book that’s a bit lacking is the section on social media. Yet, I didn’t really find this to be much of an issue. While direct examples of word of mouth marketing efforts on social media would have been a nice addition, they’d be outdated at this point. Instead, this section is just a quick overview of the benefits of being present on social media, and why you should use it as part of your larger strategy. How you choose to implement that, and on what platforms, is up to you!
Great read for those just getting started, or needing a bit of a boost with refining their word of mouth strategy. Easy-to-use worksheets provide a great framework for planning, and real world case studies help put concepts in context. Be it online, or out in the real world!
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