Nordic Track Book Club Review: The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Great Nordic Track Ski sessions with The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing by George Silverman. This was a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening book on how to better market your product and services.  Very applicable to software developers and sellers of that software.  Not a word in the book about blogs or online communities, as the book was written in 2001, but it’s still filled with insights and often overlooked good common sense.  Five stars.  I made a lot of margin etchings in this one and will be sharing only a small fraction of them here.

Chapter 1: Dominating Your Market by Shortening the Customer Decision Cycle.  Amazingly, marketing success is determined more by the time it takes your customers to decide on your product than by any other single factor.  Reduce decision friction…concentrating on the communications that will really move people to action.  If you can identify and minimize just a few of those decision bottlenecks it will reduce their decision time, multiplying sales…  View your marketing program not as sales communications, but as a decision acceleration system.  When its easy to decide on their product, not only do I buy the product, I also feel gratitude and a sense of loyalty to the company that gave me the easy choice.

Chapter 2: The Power of Word of Mouth.  Word of mouth is communication about products and services between people who are perceived to be independent of the company providing the product or service, in a medium perceived to be independent of the company.  

The Power of Word of Mouth: Independent Credibility.

Experience Delivery is a second reason why word of mouth is so powerful, and it is even more important and useful than word of mouth’s independent credibility.  (More on delivering experience is found later in the book.  Very important concept.)

Word of mouth is “live,” not canned like most company communication.  When a friend tells you about a book, movie, etc, she is telling you because she thinks that YOU (not some anonymous stranger) would like it.  Word of mouth is custom tailored to the people who are participating in it.

The customer determines whom he will talk to, what he will ask, or whether he will continue to listen or politely change the subject.

Influencers (experts, gurus, etc) have a sphere of influence…

Product literature gives you only promises.  Word of mouth gives you reality.

Chapter 4: Harnessing Word of Mouth.  The six-step process.  1) figure out why someone should buy your product, given his or her values and priorities. 2) Identify the predominant adopter types that you need to be going after–innovators, early adopters, middle majority, late adopters, laggards–in your various markets. 3) identify the crucial decision stages needed to adopt your product…

Chapter 5: Using Word of Mouth to Speed the Decision Process.  The Decision Process five stages: 1) Deciding to decide, 2) Selecting among options, 3) Trial, 4) Purchase/Implementation, 5) expanding use and recommending.  Focusing the message to those decision points.  Examples and details followed with each.

Indirect experience is often preferred…better than learning in the school of hard knocks.  

The adoption cycle broken down into five kinds of people: 1) innovators, 2) early adopters, 3) middle majority, 4) late adopters, 5) laggards.  Identifying the types and their relationship to your product, tailoring the message accordingly.  Details followed.

Chapter 6: Delivering the Message.  You need to get your prospects beyond information gathering–to confirmation and verification–which customers get by objective, independent experience and evaluation–which conventional marketing does not deliver.

Tell a story.  (As Seth Godin I’m sure would agree…)

I’ve only covered half of the book in the above notes.  Other chapter topics containing lots of margin scribbles include

  • Viral marketing
  • Researching Word of Mouth
  • Constructing a Word-of-Mouth Campaign
  • Word of Mouth, the “Tried and True” way
  • Campaign Methods that work best
  • Practical Tips and Suggestions
  • The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.