Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Review: Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking - Revised Edition by Andy Sernovitz

Nicholas Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years. He is the Digital Strategy Lead and founder of Chicago-based digital marketing firm lonelybrand, where he directs the creation and execution of digital marketing programs that generate measurable signups, conversions and sales.


It doesn't matter whether you're selling real estate, jelly, or jet engines. People will ask other people about you before they decide to buy from you. We turn to people we trust first - friends, family, coworkers, and other people like us - when starting to look for something to buy. Not ads, not brochures, not phone books. (Word of Mouth Marketing page xv).

I recently received an advance edition of Andy Sernovitz’s “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking - Revised Edition”. Mr. Sernovitz is the CEO of Gaspedal, a Chicago based word of mouth marketing company, and editor of “Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That”, a marketing blog and newsletter. I agreed to review the book for several reasons. Mr. Sernovitz practices what he preaches, and included a special edition of the manuscript that encourages direct feedback – good or bad – on Amazon and other social media outlets.

"Word of Mouth Marketing" espouses a word of mouth ethos – a roadmap in which to operate a successful campaign for any sized company (although the primary focus seems to be small and medium sized businesses) and includes a foreword by Seth Godin and an afterword from Guy Kawasaki.

Mr. Sernovitz writing is, if nothing else, enthusiastic, and discussed an excellent mix of guiding principles as well as specific “what you can do today” tactics such as:

1. Look on the web for people talking about you.
2. Assign someone to join these conversations. Start today.
3. Create a blog.
4. Make a new rule: Ask "Is this buzzworthy?" in every meeting.
5. Come up with one buzzworthy topic. Keep it simple.
("Word of Mouth Marketing", page 197)

Of note – the revised edition includes two new sections (business to business and negative word of mouth) as well as other minor changes.

"Word of Mouth Marketing" is a quick read at 205 pages, yet provides a realistic look at the challenges facing modern marketers and advertising agencies. I enjoyed the fact that Mr. Sernovitz injects much of his own personality into the writing, and does not make sweeping, unsubstantiated generalizations about marketing.

Of note: though the content is generally relevant and interesting, don't expect to find revolutionary or unexpected ideas if you are a seasoned word of mouth/social media advocate. Case examples such as Southwest Airlines and Sony have been analyzed many times in the past; despite the repetitive elements "Word of Mouth Marketing" is a must read for anyone interested in entering the social media or word of mouth space.


> Book Review: The Nature of Marketing: Marketing to the Swarm as well as the Herd by Chuck Brymer

> Book Review: Buyology by Martin Lindstrom

> Book Review: Groundswell - Published 2008 by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
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