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48 Word of Mouth Advertising Business Ideas

Updated on September 11, 2014

Advertise Your Business for Free with Word of Mouth Marketing Tactics

Traditional advertising costs money, and isn't very effective in many circumstances. What about word of mouth advertising for your business? It's free, and it's the most effective type of marketing. When you buy something do you head to YouTube to research commercials, or do you head online to read reviews, or maybe call a friend or family member to ask their opinion of a local plumber? You use word of mouth, and you trust it, whether you realize it or not!

So how can you utilize word of mouth advertising for your business? You can with the ideas below, which will help you spread the word without spending a dime. Yes, they'll take time, but they'll generate great results. Time is money, and you were going to spend money on paid advertising anyway... so why not spend less and invest that time back into marketing via word of mouth?

23 Ideas to Start Your Word of Mouth Marketing Campaign

Start telling the world about your business and start getting referrals!

1. Tell your friends to spread the word.

2. It seems obvious, but tell your family (and tell them if you are offering referrals).

3. Email your friends and family. Send them a reminder after a few weeks so they won't forget.

4. Create a Squidoo lens or page on Zujava to market your business. A great backlink for your website, too.

5. Become active on a social network. Try Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Master just one of those before you spread your wings (or spread yourself too thin).

6. Encourage others to talk about your business by offering a truly one-of-a-kind item. If you can make it customized, this is key.

7. When someone asks you about your business, know what you're going to say. Have a script ready and prepared, so it's easy to remember and sounds interesting.

8. Talk more about your business, to anyone who will listen. If you're interesting, they won't be bored, and most people ask "what do you do for work?" when they first meet you anyway.

9. Make your reputation known to the public by displaying your online reviews in your store, or posting words of praise on your website. The more, the better!

10. Be more honest in your approach. For instance, don't sell a product to them that doesn't suit their needs. While they might not purchase your product now, they'll remember your sincere approach and tell potential customers absolutely everything about your business (and they'll pass the word along).

11. Encourage employees to talk about your business by having open, honest communication with them. Let them give feedback, let them openly discuss issues and be a part of decision making, then they'll reward you by talking about your business with their friends and family.

12. Ask your happy customers if they can be contacted for a referral (or reference), then tell your customers that the list exists if they need it.

13. Attend a local business group where you can network with other business owners. They'll talk about their business, you'll talk about yours.

14. Join Sphinn and network with other search engine marketers. You'll get ahead on this site if you have something useful.

15. Make it easy for customers to find you. Are you listed in the Yellow Pages, and can they find you easily online? (This is where that Squidoo lens might come in handy)

16. Think of products or services that you've personally recommended to someone. What was the thing that made the product so good to stick your neck out and tell someone about it?

17. Offer something on your website that is a useful tool for many people. Not only will you attract links, but visitors might remember the name of your website. A useful way to brand yourself.

18. Be a know-it-all. Nothing instills confidence in buyers like knowing that the person that they're doing business with is a professional in their field. Answer questions to customers problems and display them on your website, or in a related forum. The point is, you want them to feel comfortable spending their money with you.

19. Speaking of helping people, you can help buyers out by making it easy for them to find the information that they need. Have you ever considered making a part of your website a resource for your targeted buyers?

20. And speaking of helping once again, why not associate yourself with a charity that's somehow related to your business? While it may not be free, it's a charity, and people like helping businesses that help charities. Don't be shy about your association with this charitable cause, tell people.

21. Have customers fill out surveys. Create an online poll or create a hand written one so customers can anonymously submit through written forms to tell you what they do and don't like about your business.

22. Simplify your payment methods as much as you can. Offer easy online payments with secure checkout pages. Accept credit cards as well as PayPal, and you could see your website's business pick up in no time.

23. Treat everyone the same -- with a great deal of respect and courtesy. Treat vendors, suppliers, customers and employees the way you'd want to be treated. It's not just customers that spread the word about your business, it's everyone you deal with.

Paid Advertising vs. Word of Mouth Marketing - Which is more effective for you?

What's the better method of advertising your business? Which do you prefer, and which has delivered great results for you?

Should you rely on paid advertising, or just word of mouth marketing for your business?

No way, you need paid advertising to survive.

No way, you need paid advertising to survive.

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Both of them you need, but i think refer to human psychology, word of mouth is the most effective way to market your self.

    • microbio 4 years ago

      Both forms are important but i think when you know your target marketing you will eventually need to pay for some advertising, so i think its about 60/40 paid/word-of-mouth

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I will rely on both methods... Word of mouth need trust between 2 parties and often takes time, but its very effective marketing methods. Paid advertising spread the words across to wider audiences, but its targeted..

    • tagteammoms 4 years ago

      to only use one form of advertising is like trying to build a house with only one 2x4, both should be utilized and then go from there. Create your own conclusion by keeping tabs of what works best and concentrate more on that level, but don't stop doing the other either. Both will produce outcome depending on what you are marketing. Therefore we cannot justify an "either, or" in this case. If you have a business front on the street word of mouth will reach well but if you are trying to market worldwide...icecream might not be the best thing to try to sell.

    • shanzacosmetics 4 years ago

      yes, i am impressed by word of marketing but how it works when you are to mlaunch your products on bigger level in different cities. You have to rely on Paid Advertising only

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      Both methods can be very useful to your overall advertising campaign.

    • PatrickValtin 5 years ago

      You need both. It also depends on if you own a local business having only local clientele or if you need to promote across the country.

    • infiniti99 lm 5 years ago

      I get by on word of mouth advertising everyday

    • AdaptiveConcierge 5 years ago

      Both! If you'll read Guerrilla Marketing, you'll see that advertising doesn't have to be expensive or traditional, but the more you can get your name out there, the more it'll register when they need you. I believe Jay Levinson (Guerrilla Marketing) says it takes 27 times of seeing your name for it to click. But don't negate word of mouth in the mix. Entire organizations such as Business Networking International (BNI) are created and sustained with business leaders meeting to get to know each other and share referrals. Some cost, some very little though - and the payoffs can be HUGE!

    • ImpartialGreg 5 years ago

      Personally I like doing a mix of both paid and word of mouth advertising. I will decrease my daily budget according to the number of leads obtained through word of mouth to ensure a constant and regular flow of clients at a low price.

    • GGGMarketing 5 years ago

      Word of mouth is the best form of advertising there is but you cannot solely rely on this form of marketing. To become a huge factor in your business niche you are going to have to spend money.

    • phoenix arizona f 6 years ago

      Some of the very best word of mouth advertising was initially paid for. Join a local networking group, a serious one that charges a small amount of dues. You'll be amazed at what happens.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      The right choice of paid advertising can bring your business an instant flow of qualified leads. This is an essential component. In saying that, it is true that 80% of my customers rely on word of mouth to bring new customers and so one should be doing all of the above tactics to enhance their word of mouth.

    • btsuccess 7 years ago


      Mixture of paid ads and word of mouth marketing will push your business to the high level.

    • AdEx LM 7 years ago

      Both! Sure word of mouth advertising is free but paid advertising makes things happen faster. Still word of mouth advertising is like an endorsement. For example if I like a restaurant and tell you about it you are more likely to go there because I said it is good than if a TV commercial said it was good. However, the TV commercial although less convincing than word of mouth will reach so many more people that it will have a big impact. Check out my trade show marketing tips:

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      I actually believe in BOTH. When we roll out a new product we need to know that we are going to be visible. Word of mouth happens after you get people in the door initially. Your existing customers are probably not as likely to refer your business while they are doing business with their own customers.

    • Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I think it depends on your business and your word of mouth type network. We use both. But paid ads are at a minimum.

    Word of mouth marketing is the only type of marketing you need for your business.

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      • frugalfinance lm 4 years ago

        I think you need a mix of the two but word of mouth is perhaps the most powerful. We all buy (or don't buy) based on real recommendations. As consumers we trust these to be more honest than what the companies alone tell us through paid adverts.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        Word of mouth is the oldest form of marketing and keepcustomer is a customer retention company for small business and local business.

      • aaanetsolution 4 years ago

        You are lens master in providing marketing tips. You have better explained these. I would like you to focus you on our business phone systems provider company, thanks

      • Keoki Nalu Nunies 4 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

        Word of mouth today is worth 1000 time more than it used to due to social media.

      • SellClean 5 years ago

        Word of mouth is the most effective.

      • Brayden3423 5 years ago


        Partner One is the only ad agency that pays for many of your advertising costs for you. You never reimburse us. You only pay a small % of the sales increase we generate for your business.

        business advertising

      • Bigdaddyguru 5 years ago

        Word of mouth is the best and cheapest form of advertising.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Word of mouth is great. Just like the days before Internet. Try it!

      • E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

        Word of mouth is the champ every time. Since you can never know the motivation of a clicker, you are at somewhat of a disadvantage. When you use word of mouth, hopefully, you have at least shared a few sentences if not a number of years knowing each other. That is why IMHO word of mouth is so powerful. People tend to more than likely know, like and trust (to a degree) you.

      • KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

        I do all of the advertising for my notary business by word of mouth and free platforms like SquidZipper.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        There are so many more options besides just these two. What about PR? If I am launching a new product, for sure I am going to issue a press release and submit it online to blast out to media outlets. I am going to blog about it and link it back to my site with anchor text links. I am going to put it on the home page of my website.

      • DanSuciu 6 years ago

        The word of mouth strategy is certainly the cheapest and effective way. If you could pair it with a web marketing strategy, it would be great, but it's not necessary.

        SEO Pricing

      • plumberinmanchester 6 years ago

        Great advice for plumbers, well done and well articulated.

        A good reputation in a local community is all you need, the ladies drinking tea will do the rest..

      • TheOnenessPlay 7 years ago

        try zero budget advertising ~ a great way to see if you really have what it takes

        and also a wonderful kick start to personal growth ...

      • TUI701 7 years ago

        I say in most cases there is case for both. But if you can be clever word of mouth can be more than enough

      • religions7 8 years ago

        I personally don't pay a cent for advertising, though I would not call everything I do as word of mouth either.

      Inspire Customers to Rave About Your Business - Marketing Without Advertising, one of my favorite business books

      This is one of my favorite business books, and a strong influence on this page that I built. If you're not convinced that word of mouth marketing is important, think again! With sections on analyzing your current business to encouraging employees and family to brag about your business, this book will take you to the next step in encouraging happy customers to willingly and enthusiastically promote your business.

      If you don't ask people to spread the word about you, they might not! Be clear with family and friends that you're looking for referrals, and tell them how you can compensate them.

      Knowing When to Quit - Sound advice from Seth Godin's "The Dip"

      We're told from a young age, "never quit!," but it's not the best advice all of the time. Seth points out in his book, The Dip, that quitting can be a good thing, if you know when the right time is to do so.Are you pulling the plug at the right time? Accepting failure, moving on (or in some cases selling your project, whatever that might be), and knowing the signs of an oncoming "dip" are all something that are very important with any new venture you tackle.

      The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
      The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

      Is it time to try something new? "We fail when we get distracted by tasks we don't have the guts to quit"- Seth Godin.


      25 More Ways to Advertise with Word of Mouth Marketing

      More ideas to help spread the word about your business

      24. Make the most use of online customer reviews as possible. Getting bad reviews? Fix the problems. Not getting reviews? Ask customers to go online and post them.

      25. Handle situations that affect your reputation negatively with dignity. Rectify the situation anyway possible, don't leave your customer hanging (and ready to tell the world that you're no good to deal with!).

      26. Branch out part of your business into something that's new and exciting. Offer something brand new that no one is doing, and then educate people about it. An example: if you're a photographer, offer to restore their VHS tape videos and put them online privately for them to watch.

      27. Have some sort of insurance policy or guarantee that makes you more of a comfortable purchase, for new buyers especially.

      28. People hate spam and heavy sales pitches. Try to eliminate any uncomfortable situations for your buyers, and unwelcome solicitations or messages.

      29. Tell your customers how they can use the product they just purchased. Don't just let them leave with it, tell them how they can use it, or how they can reach you for more ideas.

      30. Let people know what the differences are between your business and someone else's. Point out the pros of yours, vs. the negatives of someone else's, as long as they are fact.

      31. Brag about your credentials. Tell everyone how you're qualified, what school you went to, what degrees you have, awards your community has given your business, and what certification employees have gone through. Don't belittle even small achievements.

      32. Reward people that send business your way. Don't just ignore it, thank them at least, and even better, send them a gift, take them to lunch, do them a favor -- something to let them know that they're appreciated and that makes them want to send more people to you.

      33. If you're particularly knowledegable in your field and have a lot of information to share, consider a blog on your website, but be prepared to tend to it on a regular basis (or don't bother setting it up).

      34. Don't forget the coupon, coupon code, and freebie method. People love free now more than ever. Offer a steep discount or something free and word will spread.

      35. Encourage interaction from your customers in store or on your website through a contest. Offer the winner something worth their time and effort, or you probably won't get good results.

      36. Run an event in your business that really generates excitement. If you're a local deli, have an event where you pay homage to the meatball sub and the history of Italian eating.

      37. Start spreading out to areas that you aren't. If you sell a product that's completely unique, Ebay might be the place to go, or maybe Etsy.

      38. Go completely ad free on your website, then display that fact proudly somewhere on your site.

      39. Head to a trade fair, event, or show that is based on a field that your business is related. Don't focus on quantity of people that you meet, but making one or two really good connections instead.

      40. Don't forget to ask family to refer people to you. They might not otherwise!

      41. It's a TV age that we're living in, and some people just don't like reading. Make your message, service, or business available via video so potential customers can see you and your work in action.

      42. Don't use words that your customers can't understand, and if you do, explain what that word means (without being condescending).

      43. At your next event, give away t-shirts or gifts commemorating the event as door prizes, or hold a raffle.

      44. Ask your friends and family to bookmark your site on social networking sites, as well as link to it on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

      45. Just like video, photos are essential for your business. Show them pictures of work and products that you've made on flickr, the photo sharing site.

      46. Abandon your old ways of stale advertising. Flyers, direct mail, telemarketing, purchasing email lists, these are all old-school style methods that are costly and getting less effective.

      47. Don't hide. Make yourself available for any customer that wants to see you, whether that means online or off. Don't become less active when business picks up, or you can expect business to drop off.

      48. Entice your customers to stay connected as much as possible. Don't ask them, just make them really want to stay in touch, whether that's email, RSS feed subscription, to follow you on Twitter, or your send event updates.

      How Smart Companies Get People Talking - Seth Godin's acclaimed book on word of mouth marketing

      How do you make people enthusiastic enough to promote your product for free to everyone they know? Many businesses have had huge success with this method, and haven't spent a dime on advertising, while other big advertising campaigns fail. So what's their secret? Seth Godin goes over this concept in his well reviewed book here, How Smart Companies Get People Talking.

      Have a proven method of word of mouth advertising/marketing that's working for you? Or do you have a question that needs answering? If I can't answer it, one of the other guests to this page might be able to help you!

      You don't have to be a Squidoo member to comment, but you can join up and make a lens (for free) to promote your business here. Just make sure it's worth looking at!

      What Ways Do You Use Word of Mouth Advertising for Your Business? - Have a method that customers love? A question?

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          Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

          Lots of great ideas here. Thanks for the tips. 5*

        • RuthCoffee profile image

          RuthCoffee 8 years ago

          These are all great ideas. Thanks!

        • Paula Atwell profile image

          Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

          Excellent list of ideas. I have to say we do many of those in my business. Blessed by an Angel. :) There is never enough word of mouth advertising in any business.

        • profile image

          julieannbrady 7 years ago

          OMG! You may know that I am a BzzAgent and they brought me to Squidoo four years ago with their word of mouth advertising! Celebrate the power of WOM! I believe.

        • AdEx LM profile image

          AdEx LM 7 years ago

          Word of mouth advertising is the BEST advertising and the ONLY form of advertising my ad agency doesn't sell. However it would be wise to include paid advertising in order to get things to happen faster. Here are some tips I wrote on Trade Show Marketing:

        • profile image

          Aika 7 years ago

          For me, both advertising & connections (word of mouth) is a great tool for a successful business.

        • profile image

          plumberinmanchester 6 years ago

          Doing a good job is all you need, your community does the rest.

        • Dr-Know profile image

          Dr-Know 6 years ago

          Not quite a 'word of mouth' method that a great way to get allot of extra attention for your business is a web address on the back of your car. The amount of people that will see it is great for the few ££ to have it made.

          Get your small business online with Unicora

        • JenniferAkers LM profile image

          JenniferAkers LM 6 years ago

          Great ideas. I think asking people for referrals is effective but an often overlooked. If you don't ask for referrals or tell people what you do, they won't know. :-) Very simple but sometimes forgotten because you think everyone knows what you do.

          You have to be descriptive of your skills, and ask for referrals. Some friends realize you are a writer, painter, sales person, etc., but what does that mean for them? Be clear and say, I can write sales letters, ads, press releases - good for people just starting out, small-businesses looking for more exposure ... etc. Being descriptive lets people recognize opportunities they can refer you. You may find someone who says, I knew you designed banner ads, but I didn't know you could design my website graphics.

          Social networking is HUGE for me. It's not a quick referral but about building long-term relationships. It's amazing if you put your heart and interest in knowing about others first.

        • Phillyfreeze profile image

          Ronald Tucker 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

          I learn about by word of mouth!...very informative and useful lens that I will bookmark for future reference.

        • MoonMaa profile image

          MoonMaa 6 years ago

          Very informative lens!

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          I too learn about squidoo by word of mouth advertisement. For me I use no 32 idea a lot nowadays. I have found out that by visiting people even though they don't come to my restaurant, this people will normally recommend their friends to us cause they know us personnally and is comfortable with us.

        • draingene lm profile image

          draingene lm 5 years ago

          The best way to get reviews is to create a review me business card that will sent your customer to your blog where you have an area for getting reviews with links to review pages like google places and yahoo or yelp. Give the card to your customer and about 10% will give you a review. I have tested this and it works very good and will raise your rank in google places.

        • AdaptiveConcierge profile image

          AdaptiveConcierge 5 years ago

          Great lens! There's another relatively new book on the topic by George Silverman: The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. I thought you might want to check it out or feature it. It's second edition is out for kindle as of Feb 2011.

        • profile image

          DJam1 5 years ago

          Word of mouth and social media is key

        • infiniti99 lm profile image

          infiniti99 lm 5 years ago

          great lens,I'm using many ideas here for reference.thank you for sharing.

        • thegrowlinggour profile image

          thegrowlinggour 5 years ago

          great advice thank you

        • LynetteBell profile image

          LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

          great tips. Thanks:)

        • JCarruthers profile image

          JCarruthers 5 years ago

          I just stumbled upon this lens and it's filled with great info and tactics. Thanks for getting me re-motivated at just the right time.

        • sfxfantasy profile image

          sfxfantasy 5 years ago

          Social media.

        • tagteammoms profile image

          tagteammoms 4 years ago

          a good way to get reviews is to do either a YouTube video and talk to your clients and ask they will usually go for it. Then have them to make mention of you on their social sites as well. But what do you do when you don't have any clients? We recommend there are people that are willing to do just about anything for a 5. :-)

        • profile image

          Chris 2 years ago

          The main factor that pushes customers to make a purchase decision is product quality. Researchers said that “product quality is the most important factor that influences consumers’ buying decisions.” Then comes promotion made by companies. The study is published here

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