Judging from impact, persuasiveness, and trustworthiness, word of mouth –both online and offline – ultimately shapes the customer’s opinion of a product and may eventually lead them to buy the product.
Word of Mouth is Responsible for Much of What we Buy – Jay Baer
This Faberge Shampoo commercial comes to my mind every time someone mentions Word of Mouth Marketing. You can’t argue with facts, they say. Nielsen states that 92% of consumers believe in recommendations they get from friends and family over any other forms of marketing.
While this figure is sky-high, the situation for marketers, brands, and eCommerce store-owners is the exact opposite.
The American Marketing Association recently observed in a study that 64% of marketing executives believe that word of mouth marketing is the most effective form of marketing.
Here comes the shocker: Only 6% of these execs say they have mastered it.
If you are in a pursuit to master this venture, then you should turn to Convince&Convert for book resources that exploit this topic.
Here are a few books whose pages you really should be turning right now:
Word of Mouth Marketing
This book by Andy looks at the architecture and importance of word of mouth advertising. Word of Mouth Marketing analyses the drivers, functions, and how to make this work for small businesses.
What makes this an insightful read is Andy’s use of excellent examples throughout the text – and they are so many of them! Here is a ‘killer’ quote out of this book:
“Earn the respect and recommendation of your customers, and they will do the rest. Treat people well, and they will do your marketing for you, for free. Be interesting or be invisible.”
You can hear it from the horse’s mouth on Social Pros Podcast.
Wharton marketing professor, Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious combines groundbreaking research with powerful stories.
In this book, Berger talks about what makes things popular, why people share some products and ideas more than others, and better yet, what makes content go viral.
Perhaps the most radical remark that relates to word of mouth marketing in this book is that: “People do not listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers.”
Contagious tries to demystify how social influence shapes almost our entire lives from the clothes we wear, the cars we buy and even how we name our children.
Beyond this, Berger reveals the secret science behind why products get word of mouth and the science of social transmission.
Brains on Fire
Most of us in the marketing, social media and ecommerce cannot deny that there is an apparent rush to cash in the rage that is social media. Subsequently, we have forgotten why we want our businesses, websites, or brands to be successful in the social scene.
Word of mouth marketing is, arguably, the best form of advertising money cannot buy.
Enter Brains on Fire. This book succeeds in doing what many other business books attempt to demystify - it draws a blueprint of how every company can succeed.
Brains on Fire collects tales from real people, with real advice to anyone in the business of making a movement out of what they do every day.
However, according to Brains on Fire, the secret lies not in the latest tools, company tactics, or online communities. It lies in the passion, humanization, and common sense.
This book attempts to teach how to create and nurture movements of customers who will keep the buzz going and turn into evangelists after you are long gone.
If you are keen on developing and harnessing a powerful, sustainable word of mouth movement, then this is the kind of book to read. That is as powerful as this stuff can get.
Ed Keller and Brad Fay’s book debunks the notion that social media and word of mouth can be used inter-changeably. They are not equals.
The lead research for this work, based on a 2012 study, reveals that 90% of all word of mouth actually took place offline. Recent data puts the figure not too far off either – 50%.
The greatest argument out of this book is that businesses of the future that will front a people-centered model, rather than on technology, will succeed eventually. People have a greater impact in the technology than we have ever realized.
Made to Stick
Made to Stick, in defiance to classic marketing books, adopts the modern “business storytelling” technique to a great effect.
The book by Chip and Dan Heath, is one of the best-selling books on marketing and ranks highly among foundational texts in word of mouth marketing.
The author of Talk Triggers says you should not try to run a business without reading this book. Chip and Dan on the other hand opine that:
“What matters to people? People matter to themselves. It will come as no surprise that one reliable way of making people care is invoking self-interest.”
Creating Customer Evangelists
If you are a fun of case studies, then this is your bread and butter. Packed with terrific case studies on word of mouth successes like that of Krispy Kreme, SouthWest Airlines, and Build-a-Bear Workshop, this book proves to be a game changer in how we perceive the role of customers in driving other customers to businesses.
No wonder the authors, Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell, coined the phrase “Customer Evangelism.”
Within the pages of this book lies a very deep quote on word of marketing advertising:
“We’re drowning in a sea of media and information overload. In a world with so much choice, how do people make decisions? By relying on trusted friends, colleagues, or family members. In the new world of marketing, evangelists act as key influencers on future customers.”
Seth Godin’s works usually find themselves in marketing books’ rankings. And it was unsurprising that Purple Cow finds itself here despite it not being so focused on word of mouth marketing like the rest.
Nevertheless, a book on positioning will surely find its space among strategy books.
One takeaway quote from this book that speaks to the core of word of mouth marketing in the entire book must be this one:
“Because marketers have overwhelmed consumers with too much of everything, people are less likely to go out of their way to tell a friend about a product unless they’re fairly optimistic that the friend will be glad to hear about it.”
The Tipping Point
Malcolm’s work has stood the test of marketing times and it is less surprising that this book written over 30 years ago comes packed with relevance. In my view, every business owner and manager needs to read this book for gems on strategy.
In addition, I would agree with Jay Baer of Convince&Convert that the best quote out of the book must be:
“There is more than one way to tip an epidemic, in other words. Epidemics are a function of the people who transmit infectious agents, the infectious agent itself, and the environment in which the infectious agent is operating. And when an epidemic tips, when it is jolted out of equilibrium, it tips because something has happened, some change has occurred in one (or two or three) of those areas. These three agents of change I call the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.”
Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin’s book is in my own words, a mashup of all these books on word of mouth advertising.
Jay mentions on his blog that they interviewed almost all these authors for Talk Triggers and that just shows the level of depth of info in this book.
Just imagine a proven methodical blueprint that you may use to create, test, implement, and measure word of mouth.
One thing that makes this book noteworthy is that it is based on a collection case studies from American and global firms as well as from small and large businesses.
By the authors own standards, this is the most outstanding quote from the book:
“People have the power now in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. This is why the time for talk triggers has never been better – or more necessary. Businesses’ ability to unilaterally dictate consumer attitudes and subsequent purchases and loyalties are fraying like the hem of a cheap dress.
The best organizations are running ahead of this shift, purposefully crafting differentiators that get customers to tell authentic, visceral, trusted stories about the business and its products or services; stories that create new customers through referrals and recommendations.”
TalkTriggers.com has many free, helpful resources on the issue of word of mouth marketing.
A more comprehensive list of books and resources to help you navigate this golden goose of advertising is on Convince&Convert.