4 Reasons that WOM Marketing Sucks (and Why You Should Try It Anyway)

As you have probably guessed already, I actually don’t believe that word-of-mouth marketing sucks. I think it’s great. But there are always those stragglers who are a bit skeptical, and here are some of the concerns they usually cite when explaining their lack of affinity for the word-of-mouth (WOM) approach.

*1. It’s slow. *

This seems to be the most common concern to those who are considering WOM marketing—that it takes time to start seeing the results. This is true, traction does not happen immediately, and it can be hard for the unprepared eye to gauge the amount of useful exposure that a WOM campaign generates.

Try it anyway: If slow is the only reason that you’re shying away from the idea of WOM for your organization, think about it instead as an investment. Now easily measurable through any number of analytic services, WOM campaigns involve great content, and great content tends to have a shelf life of YEARS, rather than a banner, billboard, or email that is always on the clock (“How Long Does it Take a Content Marketing Strategy to ‘Work’?”). So yes, WOM does take time, but it’s time saved in the long run, as people will always share compelling content (and cat videos).

*2. It takes too much work.  *

As John Tabita accurately summed up this point from this blog post:

“Just like cold-calling done wrong, passively relying on others to talk about you is not ‘the best’ form of anything. But active, intentional, and deliberate word-of-mouth marketing can be a boon for your business.” My point is, doing something is always more difficult than doing nothing.

Try it anyway: While words like “active, intentional, and deliberate” don’t exactly sound like* not* hard work, successful WOM does not come from passivity. Look at the value of WOM at a time when “70 percent of people profess trust in [online] appraisals, up 15 percent in the past four years.” Not to mention that there are also some really great automation tools available to help you get going (ahem…).

3. You don’t have complete control.

As a control freak, I can tell you that this is absolutely 100% correct. What if people say bad things about your company? What if people say the “wrong” nice things about you? Or what if people simply do not talk about you at all? What if…?

Try it anyway: So far you know that WOM takes time to gain traction and it takes a certain amount of work to get up and running. I’m going to throw one more curveball your way: you have to give up a certain amount of control in order to use WOM to your advantage. If you have done your due diligence, you already know your customer better than anyone and are already producing content that they love. Now automate the sharing of that content and be ready to engage with your customers.

*4. People need to already think your product is great.

WOM is a great tool for when your product is amazing, and you have put all of the appropriate work into understanding who your customer is, what they want, and the problem your product solves in their life. That’s when you’ve got a real case for using WOM. Otherwise why bother, right?

Try it anyway: If people don’t already think that your product is great—convince them! This is the perfect opportunity to set-up and measure a marketing campaign via WOM. Do you think your product is great? Do your customers think your product is great? If you said ‘yes’ to either of those questions, you already have the key ingredient to developing a successful WOM campaign. Give your fans a chance to talk you up, after all– 59% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

And if you said “no” to either (or both- yikes!) of the above questions, you’re absolutely right: word-of-mouth marketing sucks.


Remember that time I inserted a shameless plug to a marketing automation tool that can help your clinic/healthcare organization develop successful WOM? Hint: It was about 400 words ago. If you’re interested in learning more about StriveHub Reach, click below!

Adrienne Sliz

Ambivert. Lover of coffee, fonts, grammar, and Oxford commas. Director of Communications at Strive Labs, Inc.