Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking

Andy Sernovitz Book Review

Posted by Weston Lay on August 30, 2019

I recently finished reading Andyís book about word of mouth marketing. Itís been in our Audible library for such a long time and I just havenít felt the need to listen to it until recently. One of my weaknesses is marketing and I have felt a strong urge to start getting better at it. This book keeps the concept of marketing very simple. It doesnít talk about buzzwords, or social media. It keeps things fundamental and in a way, this is great, but it also boils things down to common sense.

Of course, in order to master anything you need to understand the fundamental principles and this book does a good job laying those out. Itís message is that marketing is simple and easy. Marketing is just people talking to their friends and family about something awesome. This book gives some good ideas and stories about how to facilitate that conversation and how to propagate it. Here are my three biggest takeaways.

1. The three reasons people talk about you

This is my first major takeaway from this book. The three reasons are, they like you or your product or service. Talking makes them feel good about themselves, and talking makes them feel like they are part of a group.

This concept didnít solidify with me until I actually opened my eyes at work. Every day at work I would hear my colleagues talk about something that happened over the weekend or something that happened last night. It was eye opening because at least once an hour or so as they talked they would reference some product or service that they experienced to the others. One would talk about the TV show they watched and how good it was or one would talk about the plumber that did a great job on their house. On the other end of the spectrum, they would also talk down products or services if they didnít like it. Conversations like ďIf you need an electrician DO NOT use this company.Ē

This really got me thinking, that word of mouth marketing is all about simply getting someone at work to tell their colleagues about something great. If you can make a product or service good enough that someone will bring it up to their friends as conversation fodder then you are helping push your word of mouth marketing.

2. Utilizing Word of Mouth marketing to your advantage

This book gives pretty good advice on how you can actually harness word of mouth. First is thinking about what one sentence people can tell their co-workers about your product or service. Rather than an elevator pitch, whatís something people can say as they pass someone in the hallway about you. ďOh man, I just used TiVo last night and didnít have to watch any commercials!Ē In that, one statement a happy customer was able to tell someone else about a product and the benefits of that product.

The second portion to this is what Andy calls the five Tís. Talkers, Topics, Tools, Taking Part, and Tracking. One you know the topic of what people will talk about then you need to reach out and find those people are actually talking. Finding people that love talking and giving them a reason to talk about you is how to propagate the word of mouth marketing for your product or service.

3. The definition of the word ďRemarkableĒ

I believe Iíve heard Seth Godin use this phase in Purple Cow or maybe Iíve heard it somewhere else, but I liked the refresher on this. The lesson here is make your product or service remarkable. As in, make sure itís so good that people remark about it. As long as they can talk about it in a good light than youíve done a good job.

The hard part is to continue to make the product remarkable. Of course, on launch a product can be the talk of the town. Itís new, itís fancy, itís fresh. Now how do you keep people remarking on that product one year, two years, or five years from now? Keep doing things that make people remark. Twinkies is a good example of this. They announced they were discontinuing the Twinkie. All of the sudden someone bought them out and started remanufacturing it again. This was a remarkable moment and people were once again talking about a product that had been remarkable years earlier, but not since then. Of course, there are tons of other examples of companies being remarkable. SpaceX comes to mind for me on this one. Every month there is something to remark on the progress of SpaceX. Thatís good marketing.


The pros for this book are that everything is fundamental. Andy is essentially talking about human conversation and ultimately that is what marketing is. Itís two humans who communicate to share an experience and this book does a great job at putting words to these experiences that we have as humans every single day. Andy also keeps it as organized as possible with lists and alliterations, but itís here that I also found it overwhelming.

The cons for this book are that itís so fundamental that I couldnít really think of any concrete takeaways from this book. Normally I like to have some actions that come out of the book, but to me everything seemed so basic and fundamental that it was hard to find that. Although the 5 Tís of marketing and the 3 reasons people talk to you are great there is also the 4 rules of word of mouth marketing and the 6 big ideas that change marketing forever. Everything in this book is a list and for me it was too much. There are too many lists to remember and takeaway that itís difficult to grab onto one thing. I donít think I would ever say that I became successful directly because of the principles in this book.

Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. By Andy Sernovitz


You should read this book if your business has already started and you already have a product or service going but you donít have the money to do traditional marketing. This book is for the small business owner that might not understand the fundamentals of marketing.

Other books like this one include Seth Godinís book Purple Cow or even How to Win Friendís and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

I would give this book a seven out of ten. It has great principles and fundamentals, and I believe itís really good for a beginning marketing book.

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