When is a good time to use word of mouth marketing?

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When is a good time to use word of mouth marketing?

This is a question that we are often asked at WOMTWO, what are the ‘pre-conditions’ to drive word of mouth marketing. There is an ideal answer and a practical answer let’s go with the ideal answer first and foremost. 

Word of Mouth Marketing is happening for your brand, product or service whether you like it or not: 

a)  It still makes up 80% of all brand conversations which makes you wonder why more money isn’t spent on it but there are other articles about that. 

b) So, the ideal answer is that you need a word of mouth program in place all the time to boost this 80% number, grow an Advocate base that keeps gaining momentum.

In reality, we’ve found that word of mouth is used by different sectors at different times, these sectors being:

a) fast moving consumer goods, 

b) business to business, not for profit, 

c)SME’s and 

d) services and retail. 


Firstly, we’ve worked with big names like Suntory on word of mouth marketing. In fmcg it seems to be used in two cases a) a crisis and b) to trial a new product or brand. Since most fmcg companies use advertising agencies which primarily sell digital marketing or marketing campaigns across different media – they have a standard recipe. It’s only when this recipe is not working that fmcg companies turn to other methods. If they move to WOM it’s important not to miss an opportunity i.e. ensure it’s not just a one-off product push but an on-going dialogue that can help with innovation, spreading your messages more quickly and low-cost market research.

Business to business

Business to business companies naturally understand the value of Word of Mouth but don’t typically know how to amplify it so they do a mixture of Google ads, linked in and SEO to get more visible. If business to business could involve its customers in spreading the word, they’ll get more sales more easily, so the answer for them is use word of mouth all the time. However, the key is to find a topic/theme that will bind the community to want to learn more.

Not for profits

We’ve worked with a lot of not for profits and they have complex relationships because staff are involved, big individual wealthy donors, corporate donors and the gift-giving public. We helped create a movement of 100’s amongst the young for World Vision. For not for profits WOM needs to be done differently for these different audiences and we’ve found that scarce resource means it’s hard to do all of these categories at once. So the key is to do Word of Mouth marketing which will give a NFP the most funds, most easily and commit to an on-going strategy.


When we look at SME’s it’s a huge range of businesses from sweet shops, to bike shops, to cafes and restaurants, the list is endless. What we’ve found works is what we call the ‘monthly push’, once a month you run an event for your customers, ask your existing customers to bring new ones and film it. Now you may say you don’t have the money to do that, but we’ve found by thinking smart and using free spaces, (like  village or public halls ) asking students to make movies  and charging a nominal amount for the event you can achieve this. The trick is often to be creative or trial new things.

Services and Retail 

Services and retail are the hardest to make generalisations about, the category is so broad. Most large corporates have a yearly timetable of events and spending quite clearly laid out – with big advertising at Xmas, spring sales and a range of tactical product pushes through the year. We’ve found it easiest to show the power of a WOM campaign in the ‘slack’ periods when there is less activity and build a movement around a topic gently, starting with a few 100 and growing from there. We’ve found that the management of these organisations is more open to find a way (that’s different) to get growth in relatively flat periods.

We’ve put some links below, if you want some more specific advice then please e-mail us at caseyalan@mac.com and either Alan or myself will advise you further.




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About the author

Jake Pearce

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"Different to get better results". Jake is obsessed with marketing ROI. He helps companies amplify word of mouth to get business more easily. He uses Meanomathics to boost Comms cut through 10-30%. He uses co-creation to future proof innovation - he turned around a drinks category providing 15% growth using professional co-creation. And he helps top CEO and celebrities with their personal branding and brand purpose, which links back to Word of Mouth marketing. 

Worked with Vodafone,Kellogg'sMcDonalds,ANZ,McDonalds,Suntory,Danone,HSBC,Barclays,BAT,Meat Brands,Saatchi&Saatchi,Draft FCB,Fairbrother Industries, Les Mills, Holmes Place, Grey and a host of digital start-ups.

Jake Pearce is a specialist in brand planning, development & innovation. Jake is currently working on a Word of Mouth Marketing start-up, a personal branding start-up and new delivery systems for wellness products. 

www.jakepearce.com - for brand development and innovation

www.womtwo.com - for word of mouth marketing expertise


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