Word-of-mouth is certainly the most powerful form of marketing.

You know how it works, you find some amazing product or use some stupendous service and you can’t help but tell people about it. It’s as though you’ve found something unique that you have to share with others.

As a small business owner, word-of-mouth marketing can be your best friend. The cost is low and the affect can be huge.

But on thing that always gets in the way more effectively using word-of-mouth marketing is the idea that you have to create the greatest product or service in the world. If it’s even possible, it’s not necessary.

What is necessary is that you give people a compelling reason to talk about your offer. This is exactly what word-of-mouth marketing guru Andy Sernovitz shared at OSI Rock Stars and eBay Live:

The best thing you can do is make sure people have a reason to talk about you. When they look at your listing, they see what you wrote, there should be some obvious thing where they say, “I’ve gotta tell a friend about this.” If your listing isn’t making people say, “I’ve gotta tell a friend,” add something, change it, spice it up, do something cool so that they absolutely have to forward it.

Here’s the clip:

Compelling can come in many forms. If you have a great product, do something in the copy or on your website to give people a reason to forward it. As Andy suggests, do something obvious, a little odd or cool just so people want to share it.

People love to share things that are interesting. They love to pass on things that will add value to people’s lives. And they love to share things that are funny, witty, or helpful. Think of all the times you’ve share something with others. Why have you done it? Why have you taken a few minutes to tell someone about the thing you saw, the product you bought or the person you worked with?

What motivates you to share is the same thing that motivates others. We all have different triggers, but we are motivated by the same foundational desire to share interesting and helpful things with people we know.

So what motivates you to share? And, perhaps, more importantly what can you do with your marketing materials, website or blog that would create a compelling reason for people to share you with others?

Let’s talk about it.

(note: image from Paul Mayne on Flickr, some rights reserved)

Reader Interactions


  1. Susan, The Marketing Eggspert says

    That naked kid/cat pic is enough reason to talk about you!!

    A great example of WOM is what I saw at BlogHer. We got so much free stuff and everyone is now blogging about it. Never underestimate the power of bloggers!

  2. Carolyn says

    Mostly, I share things that have helped me in some valuable way.
    Actually, I shared your website with my coach just this morning. I also intend on sharing it with my coaching clients.

    I think one of the keys to being talked about is to give people what they really need. When you speak to and help satisfy this need, you make an impression. Most people like to share that with others.

  3. Karl Goldfield - Sales Training says

    This is a great post on the power of what we call Viral Marketing. Anyone who has not read it should check out Malcom Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point”.

    He discusses how small things like the right couple of conversations can create a storm of activity.

    Tweak the message until you create a buzz and watch the world work for you.

  4. De Gree says

    It’s impossible to “create viral marketing” but you can create great marketing that can become viral.

    Nice post.

  5. admin says

    Absolutely – give people what they need in a way that they can digest and use it and you’re ahead of most business owners.

    And thanks for sharing my site. Share it with as many people, as often as you like.

    What are you saying about me and naked???

    I try not to underestimate anyone. You never know from which turned stone you’ll find a gem.

    What’s been your most interesting word-of-mouth adventure?

    Yeah, but that’s too easy. What is it about my site that would make you share it with everyone you know? Or would you?

    But do you think viral marketing is something you can purposefully target or do you think it’s the result of good word-of-mouth marketing? Or both?

  6. Beverly Hills Real Estate says

    I worked in the Ministry for seven years until I retired that part of myself in 2000.

    In early 1995 I started my walk in a ministers shoes.

    Honestly, when the ministry started, I myself was practically homeless. I set out with a friend and started a shelter called the ‘The House of Refuge’.

    We had no money, no income to speak of, no credit at all. So, we decided to just use what we had available, a two bedroom duplex, one used beat-up ford escort and my good looks (Not really).

    We went to a church everyday, visited other ministries and made trips to any and every Christian venue possible, with-in our budget (of only 80$).

    In three weeks we had enough food to feed fifty kids. We had two vehicles and had all the bills paid. (I wasn’t really trying either.)

    We did not have commercial insurance and did not have any corporate or business (501c3) structure, charter, permit or license. We did not advertise, make flyer’s business cards, nor was the ministry even listed in phone book but…

    I received calls from all over the nation regarding parents needing help with their troubled teenagers that were facing criminal convictions.

    I have always wondered how that happened… One man told me he actually had my business card. (Somebody, must have wanted to help us and made business cards and never even told me?)

    What ever the case , ‘Word of Mouth’ really works and you don’t have to ‘TRY’ to sell people on your idea if it’s a good one… It should sell itself.

    -Nick deVere

  7. Debbie Ritter says

    I couldn’t agree more, word of mouth is the best advertisement by my experience. I learn about other businesses that way myself, it really is the best!

    Debbie @ Uneekdolldesigns

  8. Strange Frog says

    We get most of our business from word of mouth and believe it or not hardly any from internet.

    If you offer a good service people will tell there friends.

    With good advertising you can create more business, but nothing works – at lease for us – like word of mouth

  9. Dawud Miracle says

    De Gree,
    It’s true. Along the same lines, I’ve been wondering what viral marketing consultants do. You can’t create a viral experience – it’s something that happens. So if that’s true, how do these consultants work?

    Right on. I say care about people and give them what they need. Yet do so in a way that’s unique to you. Solve their problems, make it easy, and won’t be able to help themselves in sharing their experience. It’ll be natural, don’t you think?

    How do you employ word-of-mouth marketing strategies in your business?

    Wouldn’t it benefit all small businesses to remember that people do business with people and people love to talk and share their experiences?


  10. Laan says

    If you want people to talk about you and need some inspiration to make them do so, I recommend Seth Godin’s books.

    His ideas about idea marketing is just that, how to make people talk about you by themself instead of force feeding them annoying commercials.

  11. Bob Lipply says

    That’s right, if we could get this “word of mouth” to work, we wouldn’t need all this Internet stuff.

  12. Simon Slade says

    The very best book I’ve read on the subject of “getting people talking about you” is Seth Godin’s “Meatball Sundade.” He says that unless your organization is remark-able, and conducive to the new media environment.. then it is doomed to be an uphill “push” to get people to find out about it. Word of mouth is very powerful.

  13. Sid Savara says

    @Frog Very true. So often I hear people advertising on the radio, on TV etc – but the only thing that sells me is a personal recommendation.

    I actually remember reading an article about that a while back, and it made the point that people trust their close friends and family, but bloggers ranked above advertising as far as trust.

  14. Mr Costello says

    If it weren’t for word of mouth i wouldn’t be in business. i mean that’s what has kept me a float when times looked hard.I am grateful that i stepped out on faith and pursued my goals of being my own boss. Check out my site and see how i became financially secure. http://www.aeasyplan.com

  15. Michael Guy says

    I think that excellent service counts most. When we show websites we have built to clients Jaws drop. But it is the customer service that people rave about. It is not unusual for us to receive a case of cuban cigars at the office.

  16. arizona term insurance says

    The best advice I can give people is to learn to ask questions. We all like to talk about ourselves, right. Learn to ask about the goings on of those around you. Get someone to talk and you will make a friend for life.

  17. Brenda says

    Word of mouth is a given. We’ve found that a surprise is a great way to do it. Sometimes we just give away a pkg of tees. We’ll say, “You deserve a break today.” People look surprised and happy. If a family comes in we’ll tell the kids to pick out a free golf ball from the bin. They love it. It gives something for people to remember. In golf you’re creating memories.

  18. Mr. Furniture direct says

    Yes, I agree with you Dawud Miracle.
    That’s right!
    Viral Marketing is important.
    I think i will tell this information again to my friend and I hope this information will be usefull for them… oh yes I have blog about Furniture Direct Tips and Guide and I hope you don’t mind to check my blog. I hope the article on my blog will be usefull for you… and we can share each other. thank you…
    Mr. Furniture direct

  19. Green Office Furniture says

    Very good points Dawud. The Green Office blog has had great success with Twitter. But less so with Facebook. I think it’s all about finding the right social media sites to spread your viral message. What inspires one community to share with their friends may not work with another.

  20. Jonas says

    Yes viral advertising is the new “thing”. But not many companies knows how to handle it. I’ve seen quite a few examples of failed viral advertising. I belive that a combination of videos, twitter, FB and social bookmarks, is the best viral advertising.

  21. le corbusier says

    yeah it s a new trend to market your product and be successful. If you are famous, certainly, many people will talk about you and this makes your product popular too. only that we have to make a way to make our site or product unique.
    that’s our task, therefore. so it really brings challenge to every one who wants to be talked about.

  22. Buying Furniture Blog says

    Viral marketing is very interesting. You can try a dozen times and only get 4 or 5 that really work the way you wanted them to. But, when they do work, they are immensely powerful! Both for getting more links to your page, and simply for getting people out there to know you exist!

    So, everybody should try it, but they shouldn’t give up if it doesn’t work! Tweak what you’re doing and try it again!

  23. luxury flats says

    Great post! I really believe that in the growing business and taking care of your people or customers, word of mouth can really get your business boosted. While in the online world come social networking to get your business known to others.

  24. Lån penge says

    Well I just wanna gang up with the rest and also recommend Seth Godin’s “Meatball Sundade”. Your post was a nice read as well.

  25. Criminal Justice Degree says

    Advertising to the right people with a niche product can be a good method. The content really has to support the traffic and good content tends to promote itself. Whether it goes viral or not can also depend on demand.

  26. Forbrugslån says

    Word of mouth is absolute the best marketing tool. You just need to handle your customers with respect, and then it will go all by it’s self 🙂

  27. All Sports Games says

    Yes, word of mouth is pretty exciting. Especially in the Internet age, where your users can share your site in so many different ways to large groups of friends in just a few clicks.


  1. […] As word of mouth is such a powerful marketing tool, we all want others to talk about us and, more importantly, our business. Dawud Miracle explains how to get the conversation started. […]

  2. […] Dawud has an interesting point that people love to share things, so how do you get people to start talking about you? What do you do to make sure people on the Internet want to talk about you and share your content with each other? Well for starters, you want to be interesting and write/say/record something worth while but more to the point you want it to be interesting and hopefully entertaining enough that people out there want … no .. need to share it with others. […]

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