See Andy's other stuff:

RSS Feed

Follow Andy

Contact Me >>

Word of mouth marketing is still awesome

Geno Church from Brains on Fire wrote an awesome post asking a critical question: Has word of mouth marketing lost its wow? (link)

I don’t think so. We’ll stay special as long as people like Geno are out there fighting for the idea that word of mouth marketing is something special.

Ignore all the talk about WOM as a “media channel” or buying conversations. True WOM is not a media buy. Talking about buying people is offensive.  You can’t buy a recommendation — you earn it.

There is nothing else like word of mouth marketing.

1. It’s is the only kind of marketing based on earning love and respect.

2. WOM only works for great companies that make great stuff and provide great service.

3. WOM only works for good marketers. Traditional advertising continues as long as you pay for it, even if it sucks.  WOM only spreads if it’s genuinely fantastic.

4. WOM is honest and true.  Word of mouth holds you to the highest ethical standards. Liars and cheaters always get busted.

5.  The good guys win.  Word of mouth rewards those who deserve it.

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.


  1. Michael E. Rubin, Blog Council May 20, 2008 at 9:25 pm #

    #5 is what keeps me excited every day I come to work. It’s also why I believe WOM is more than just another passing fad. “The good guys win.”
    Think about that for a moment. What a contrast to the prevailing attitude that “good guys finish last.” For WOM to truly work, you have to be honest and help the good guy WIN. After all, WOM is about enabling and empowering. It’s about connection, not dissolution. It’s about building up and out, not tearing down.
    WOM is not perfect. But it’s not a fad, and it’s not a cult of personality. It’s the first profession and strategy that I have ever encountered in my career where being good makes darn good business sense.
    I am a GasPedal employee and this is my personal opinion.

  2. Tom O'Brien May 20, 2008 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi Andy:
    Nice post – I sat in a conference all day today trying to figure out how to say what you (and Geno Church) say above.
    WOM is real, honest, earned and not really available to the manipulators.
    Thanks – TO’B

  3. Brett Hurt May 21, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    As always, you offer great and concise insight. I, too, especially love #5 – the good guys win. The trick is to find out when you are “being bad”. One of our clients,, was selling a leveler that featured a laser beam. Trouble was, you couldn’t find where the laser beam was. So everyone returned it. We highlighted this to them, they responded accordingly (where all that saw the customer review also saw their response) and the problem was solved.
    Working with our clients, I have seen countless examples of the good guys being empowered, for the first time, with real information on what they need to change to remain good/”perfect”. That is why we have invested so much in our word of mouth analytics platform based on our clients’ input.
    I’m looking forward to seeing you in Austin next week at our Social Commerce Summit. Thanks again for agreeing to be a keynote speaker.
    Founder and CEO, Bazaarvoice

  4. BIG Kahuna May 21, 2008 at 7:47 pm #

    Andy, I think WOM is great and we’re helping our clients with programs based on WOM. But…an intergrated, multi-tiered branding program will always be a better way to go.
    That may include WOM, traditional advertising, social media etc. Sometimes traditional media can spurn great WOM.

  5. Captain Flummox May 22, 2008 at 10:11 am #

    I want to believe in WOM. In fact, its ancestor the testimonial is one of my favorite genres in terms or persuasion, if not entertainment. But, my personal experience with WOM is spotty. On our neighborhood mail list I asked for the name of a good mechanic, and he turned out to be the worst, most dishonest mechanic I’d run into in decades of driving. On the other hand, I’ve also benefited from WOM that worked out wonderfully, and in those cases the advice came from people I considered experts. It’s up to the audience to judge the credibility and expertise of the source, and I think that’s a responsibility consumers will have to take more seriously. Beyond that, the provider of a product or service is likely the ultimate expert. When they communicate credibly, I’ll listen — and maybe corroborate.

  6. Donor Power Blog June 10, 2008 at 10:46 am #

    The growing power of word-of-mouth marketing

    You’ve probably heard about a “new” marketing discipline: word of mouth. It’s actually the oldest marketing tactic of all, but some smart marketers are rediscovering its power — now supercharged by the Web — and bringing a strong theoretical framework

  7. John Lepp June 11, 2008 at 8:03 am #

    Great post Andy. As a small business owner of course I rely heavily on word of mouth. But I think that some companies realize that they can also purchase word of mouth – and like Captain Flummox mentioned, it starts to become spotty and ineffective… people start to loose trust in it… not good for anyone.

  8. Andy Sernovitz June 11, 2008 at 8:21 am #

    Paying for recommendations is called “stealth marketing” – it is the exact opposite of word of mouth marketing.
    It is sleazy, unethical, and usually illegal. And it doesn’t work.
    Try it: 1) you will get busted and 2) you will humiliate yourself and your company.

Word of Mouth Marketing Book wins an award

Word of Mouth Marketing Book “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking” by Andy Sernovitz (that’s me!) has won a Gold Medal in the Axiom Business Book Awards.

Thanks! Yay!

More detail here.

Book web site.

Buy a copy.

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.


  1. Debbie Petras March 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm #

    Congratulations on your gold medal…I found your book to be so practical, helpful and easy to read. I loved that you included lots of examples too. Way to go Andy!

  2. Mike Spataro March 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm #

    Way to go Andy. Your book should be required reading for everyone on the word-of-mouth industry.

  3. Andy Sernovitz March 2, 2008 at 5:02 pm #

    Thanks for your support!

  4. Jon Burg March 3, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    Congrats! Yet another book I’ve been meaning to purchase for my “pass along” library. Now it’s off to Amazon!

What do you think?

Word of mouth marketing: A $1 billion business

We we started the Word of Mouth Marketing Association just 3 years ago, we told everyone that it was going to be a huge business. Now we have some proof.

According to a new report from PQ Media released at the WOMMA Summit:

  • Spending on word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing jumped 35.9% in 2006 to $981.0 million and is expected to top $1 billion in 2007.
  • Spending Will Reach $3.7 billion in 2011.
  • WOM is the fastest growing sector of the marketing services industry.

For the record: I told you so!

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.


  1. Moses Mehraban November 20, 2007 at 6:50 am #

    Hi Andy,
    Interesting…just finished reading the press release form PQ Media … I never thought you could place a dollar figure on WOM. Isn’t word of mouth marketing the result of a great customer experience and whereby consumers/clients talk about you?
    I can understand how spending on viral campaigns can be calculated but surprised and curious as to how that same formula works on a free form such as word of mouth.

  2. Andy Sernovitz November 20, 2007 at 9:45 am #

    It’s a good question, Moses.
    There are two kinds of WOM – both good.
    Organic WOM occurs naturally when people become advocates because they are happy with a product and have a natural desire to share their support and enthusiasm.
    Amplified WOM occurs when marketers launch campaigns designed to encourage or accelerate WOM in existing or new communities.
    More here:

  3. Warren Sukernek November 20, 2007 at 5:12 pm #

    Great presentation at WOMMA! We will never forget WOM is love and the 7 WOM emotions. Congratulations on the industry’s growth. You have a lot to be proud of!

What do you think?

Word of Mouth Mailbag: Pet Fat

A pound of fat is bigger than you think.  It’s gross.  And if you carried it around with you, you’d think twice before eating another cookie.  That’s the idea behind MyPetFat


Jay is a real-life diet guru who has come up with the perfect conversation-starter for his system.  Everyone is going to notice when you break out the fake fatblob and put it on the dinner table. Read his blog.


The Word of Mouth Mailbag features great word of mouth thingys that people have sent me or were gathered in my travels. Send me stuff (address)… I’ll shamelessly blog anything that demonstrates great marketing — or is cool, goofy, or fun. See the full list here.

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.


  1. Pete July 9, 2007 at 8:12 am #

    yeck – kind of like fake poop but it’s fat…looks like of like Jello though, doesn’t it?

What do you think?

Word of Mouth Marketing Class at Northwestern

This week I started teaching "Word of Mouth Marketing and Communications" at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. I think it is the first graduate course on the topic.

There are 20 smart students in the class, most of whom have full-time marketing jobs.  Smart group.

You can read the syllabus, reading list, etc. here.

The big project is the class blog, where all the students are assigned to blog publicly and actively.  I’m optimistic – 20 of us x 3-4 posts each week could be a really fantastic blog.  They haven’t done much yet, and I know it’s hard to get started … so post encouraging comments!

Blog is here

Here are the students’ names.  This is part of lesson one: Everything is public in the blogosphere! (I will respect any requests to remove any name for privacy reasons.)  Let’s see if they are googling themselves.  Class – if you see this post, please comment.

  • April Djakoniya
  • Audrey Irawan
  • Belinda Alvarado
  • Catherine Schneider
  • Christopher Cushman
  • Daniel Buescher
  • Dee Hildy
  • Gina Merola
  • Gitanjali Saini
  • Jesse Greenberg
  • Jessica Powell
  • Kate Kortenkamp
  • Lisa Spengler
  • Matthew Rolnick
  • Samir Sheth
  • Samuel Karow
  • Stephanie Somers
  • Vanessa Shropshire
  • Yu Wang

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.


  1. Belinda (Bayleeenda) June 21, 2007 at 10:28 am #

    Wow – feeling quite, well “public” right now.
    500 barf bags (switching topics) – I’ll grab some this week. I’ll try for 2. See if I can get more – not sure how those sitting around me may feel about giving up theirs!

  2. Cathy K June 24, 2007 at 10:13 pm #

    Aloha–Just a quick clarification on my name.
    Among the many, many things I have neglected during my time in this program, I never filed the appropriate paperwork involved with changing from my maiden to married name at NU. Getting married mid-program has its disadvantages. =) It is somewhat bitter sweet to explain, for what may be the very last time ever, my last name is no longer Schneider but Kraus. So, if we are working on my Google presence (which I think is awesome, by the way) can we change it to Kraus?

  3. Kate Kortenkamp June 25, 2007 at 12:39 pm #

    I Googled myself today (which I haven’t done in quite some time. In addition to the other items about me that have been around for a while, I was surprised to see that our class blog, and your Web site had become the top two on Google! I don’t know how I feel about that. . .

  4. Dee Hildy June 25, 2007 at 10:43 pm #

    Got it, thanks Andy!

  5. Andrea Morris June 26, 2007 at 1:09 pm #

    Totally jealous of your class! I think this is one class that I would love to participate in. :-)

What do you think?

Get My Newsletter!

Subscribe to Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! for a weekly email full of unusually useful ideas for smart marketers. Great marketing is about brains, not bucks. The best business ideas are easy to do, inexpensive, and fun. Learn to simplify your business, earn word of mouth, and thrill your customers:

Never display this again