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Exclusive Q&A with Author of Word of Mouth Marketing

Posted by Alexis Bonilla on November 8, 2017

Have you heard of word of mouth marketing? You’ve probably heard of evangelism, propaganda, or even the thing your history books call oral storytelling. Word of mouth is the oldest form of marketing there is, and probably the most valuable form - even today.

“Word of mouth marketing is the practice of taking a natural phenomena and using it to support your business.” - Andy Sernovitz

Our apprentics recently had the opportunity to visit The GasPedal Ranch in Austin, TX where they got an exclusive Q&A session with Word of Mouth Marketing author, Andy Sernovitz. Our apprentices had an hour to fire away any questions they had after reading the book – directly to the source.

GasPedal Austin
GasPedal Ranch entrance in Austin, TX

Get an inside look at a few things Andy had to say!

Building WOMM Into Your Business

“Every ‘what do I do?’ question comes back to the 5 T’s”.

According to Andy, these are the 5 questions to answer when asking how to get people talking:
Talkers: Who Will Tell Their Friends About You?
Topics: What Will They Talk About?
Tools: How Can You Help the Message Travel?
Taking Part: When Should You Join the Conversation?
Tracking: What Are People Saying About You?

Two members of Cohort 6 currently carry full-time roles at Acton Academy, an innovative elementary and middle school.  A project they’re working on is getting Acton’s upcoming book, Courage to Grow, on the market. With Word of Mouth Marketing being a bestseller and a guide to being an innovative marketer, they got to talk to the man himself about his journey.

Andy was able to walk the two apprentices through the thought process of the 5 T’s and how the concept can directly apply to their project. “You build a muscle memory for word of mouth the more you bounce around campaign ideas,” Andy said.  “You just need to double down, push through, and figure out what people are already sharing.”

“Word of mouth marketing is about earning the respect and recommendations from the customer.”
- Andy Sernovitz
Andy Sernovitz Digital Creative Institute
Andy Sernovitz mentoring DCI apprentices
Customer Reviews and Why They’re Important

The reason customer reviews are so important, according to Andy, is because they can go one of two ways. Bad reviews can have a huge cost to your business and good reviews can get business booming. To put it bluntly, you can’t fake your way past a bad product. But if you have something genuinely good, people are going to tell their friends. “It doesn’t have to be something meaningful or expensive,” said Andy, “it just has to be a good feature.”

“Advertising is the cost of being boring.” - Andy Sernovitz

There’s no AND in BRAND.” This common catchphrase Andy uses presented a powerful point in this topic of conversation. It’s one thing a lot of marketers do wrong - they try to have more than one “thing” or more than one story. Brands have to have only one reason to talk because the more you add, the harder it is to talk about you and what you do. And you need to get people talking!

Ad Dollars vs Organic Growth

You’ve got a product, you’ve got a topic, but it’s not getting shared. Sound familiar? Andy suggested to our apprentices that there could be a slightly different version of a message that is more likely to get shared. His advice: Keep testing! Marketers shouldn’t put money into ad dollars until after people recommend their stuff. Why? Because if it’s getting shared, the campaign will get a greater ROI when it does become time to invest.

Most marketers aren’t using the easy (not to mention free!) word of mouth testing ground that is right in front of them: social media. Ad agencies have no incentive to seek out these tools because they’re getting paid to buy the ads. Other marketers just don’t think to use it. Take advantage of social media and find the messages that people want to share.

“Marketers tend to focus on easy, measurable metrics. Good marketing is hard. Good marketing is fundamentally about long-term relationships, long-term brand building, and long-term messaging.”
- Andy Sernovitz

Andy Sernovitz is one of the lead thinkers in innovative marketing today. We at Digital Creative want to take this opportunity to thank Andy for taking the time to give back to young marketers and invest in their growth. His generosity offered our apprentices innovative thinking and great resources for moving forward in their careers.

Andy Sernovitz Digital Creative Institute

Word of mouth marketing digital creative institute

 (top) Andy signing apprentice Alicia's copy of WOMM. (bottom) Andy and our apprentices pose for a picture. 

If you’re seeking to turn your business, project, or cause into a viral message, you can find free worksheets, downloads, newsletters, and more at!

Topics: Insider