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6 Simple Steps for Word of Mouth

image(This was originally posted on the MarketingProfs blog.)

Holly Suttmann, a former schoolteacher, started the Black & Light Candle company.

Holly really understands word of mouth. She’s proof that every business can master these inexpensive techniques. There are lot of global companies that should study what she’s doing.

Lessons from Holly:

1. Cultivate key talkers.  She’s sent me two personal notes and really built a relationship with me. Not sales calls, just friendliness.

2. Use samples. People can’t talk about a product they haven’t seen. Holly sent me three $40 candles. She earned it back in sales from the people who visit my house.

3. Make it easy to spread the word.  Holly sent me a stack of postcards to forward to friends.

4. Make your talkers look good.  She gave me a discount code to share, which makes me feel that I’m doing my friends a favor when I tell them (FOH12707 = 15% off and free shipping). She even offered to send samples to my friends.


5. Add remarkable features.  Sometimes you need a reason to talk that is more than the product itself.  I can say "these are great candles" … but there are lots of great candles.  You need to add something else to spark the conversation. Holly created a whole system of packaging that is reusable, environmental, and buzzworthy.  Watch Holly demonstrate:

And, most important … 

6. Create a fantastic product.

The lesson: High-touch, high-quality word of mouth is effective and inexpensive. Are you spending more on cold sales letters and glossy flyers than it would take to get real word of mouth?

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  1. Lydia Sugarman April 7, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    What are your recommendations for translating these tips for an online product?

  2. Thomas April 8, 2008 at 5:03 am #

    I agree with you Andy and of course the lessons from Holly but as a camera you have to focus to get a clear picture so I would recommend that you turn the list up side down.
    1. Execellent product/service.
    2. Brilliant features.
    3. Focus on the promoters.
    4. Make it easy to promote.
    5. Try and buy, spred the virus. And last but not least
    6. Be greatful and cheer your supporters, no one else does it!
    (This is the translation to you Lydia, privous comment.)

  3. Jason H. April 9, 2008 at 4:16 am #

    Nice Post, Andy, Thanks :)
    Guy Kawasaki wrote a blog entry on the “Art of Sucking Up” a few days ago, which I think is somewhat related to this post. You might want to check it out:

  4. Zane Safrit April 9, 2008 at 10:41 am #

    Andy Sernovitz’s 6 Steps for Word-of-Mouth

    Andy Sernovitz lists 6 simple steps for word-of-mouth. Those 6 steps are the 6 things a favorite company of his, Black and Light, takes with its customers. And what I liked best about Andy’s list, ok the steps taken by

  5. michelle lamar April 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    Love the post. Am passing it along to friends and clients. Very well put.

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