WoM is essentially letting a friend tell a friend who will also tell a friend. It plays wholly on the law of multiplicity. It is a pyramid without any ponzi undertone.

5 Barriers to Effective Word of Mouth Marketing



The effectiveness of word of mouth marketing (WoM) cannot be over-emphasised. This may appear to be a not so sophisticated approach to product marketing but it is essentially one of the most effective, if not the most effective method to gaining new customers. Having said that, WoM requires a lot of effort, dedication and ultimately time. This means it should be seen and undertaken as a strategic process and not an afterthought. What is more, most startups grew via this means.

A case in point is SugarSync. "SugarSync is a convenient way to back up, sync, and access files from anywhere, anytime", Bloomberg's concise review. SugarSync grew as a result of WoM. How do I mean? Having employed the popular freemium model, they give additional storage space if users invite other people to sign up. Normally these new users are friends and families who will also invite their own friends and families thereby growing SugarSync. The users of SugarSync would ultimately become marketers who are also rewarded or incentivised. WoM is essentially letting a friend tell a friend who will also tell a friend.

My previous post talked about how to maximise WoM but I have outlined 5 essential barriers to having an effective word of mouth marketing for your business or product

  1. Lack of trust

The biggest hindrance to effective word of mouth marketing is a lack of trust. There's almost nothing good you can do if your customers do not trust you. Trust, they say, is like a sheet of paper. Once squeezed, it can never be the same again. This is true when it comes to relationships of all forms. So, as a small business owner, you have to understand this and run with it.

When you promise your customers something, make sure you deliver with no hidden agendas or negative strings attached. If customers don't trust you because you don't deliver what you promise, there's no chance of them becoming loyal to you and there's no chance that they'll say yes if you ask them to talk about your business within their network.


  1. Inability to identify influencers

Another barrier to word of mouth marketing is the inability to identify influencers and take advantage of them. This is simple, if you cannot easily spot influencers who are willing to help spread the news about your business, then you'll continue on the same spot you are now. If you're not interested in expanding your business, you're free to neglect the influencers that will bring you more customers and provide your business with more publicity.


  1. Negligence of the power of social media

Social media is powerful and important for modern day businesses; small, medium and large. Social media is now so powerful that it has been acknowledged as a major decisive factor in Nigeria's just concluded presidential elections. If you neglect social media platforms to help spread the word about your business, then you're really not ready to let many people know about your business.


  1. Low quality products and services

The lower the quality of the products and services you offer, the lower the chances of anyone saying positive things about your business, and the lower your chances of gaining more customers. You know why Apple customers are usually very loyal and boastful about their Apple products? It's because Apple always delivers quality products and services, which is nothing less than is expected of them.


  1. Neglecting the importance of rewards

We can't talk about word of mouth without discussing the importance of rewarding your customers who have served as your free advertisers, some of whom you would have asked, others you didn't ask. Whichever way, you need to make them feel like their loyalty to you is richly appreciated, so that you will not lose them and maybe gain a negative reputation in the process.


What are you main marketing strategies? Have you ever employed word of mouth marketing? What are your experiences? Would would like to hear them

Add Comment
20 days ago
Word of mouth is both traditional and modern. It has been in existence since time immemorial and it is still a powerful tool today. Fail this, fail your business!
19 days ago
IMO rewards (not just money) are the biggest barriers as sadly we humans are always motivated when it's in 'our interests' to do something.
19 days ago
Interesting take on the use of rewards, this begs the question on what kind of reward will be most appropriate to specific group? cash or something else?
19 days ago
Word of mouth marketing is the cheapest and most effective way I believe. 70% of my current clients are word of mouth referrals. Small businesses should take a look into this more seriously because of its many benefits.
Prince Humphrey
19 days ago
Well said Mofe. I believe most small businesses if not all can benefit from word of mouth referrals
19 days ago
Very true Mofe, I also think from a Nigerian perspective, having a good social network aka ' who you know' would help tremendously. So if one is selling high end products you would need high net worth individuals around you. David has explained the trust bit which is also crucial
Ethan Ithzak
13 days ago
Isn't this really the original social media platform? But why aren't business owners focused more on it? The only means of surviving is connecting with every client/customer but most business owners/start-up are focusing more on collecting. Give your customers something to talk (amazing product) about and give them reasons to shine your horns (great service).
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