Word of mouth advertising is a form of advertisement where satisfied customers would go tell other people and recommend a particular business, product or service. Historically, word of mouth marketing was pioneered by one George Silverman in the 1970’s. Silverman wanted to engage a number of physicians in a dialogue regarding some pharmaceutical products. It is then that Silverman noticed how physicians who were satisfied with a certain drug would convince a number of unsatisfied skeptics to use the same drug. It is from here that the concept of word of mouth marketing was born.

Word of mouth advertising has proven over the years to be one of the most credible forms of advertising. This is because every time a person makes a recommendation to another person, they are putting their reputation and credibility on the line and stand to gain nothing besides appreciation from those that listen to them.

Word of mouth advertising is cheaper compared to other forms of advertising because it requires neither inputs nor expensive campaigns. Word of mouth advertising is also more credible compared to other conventional forms of advertising; however, it takes longer for the effect of WOM to materialize. Managing word of mouth advertising is not easy; however, there are three generic ways that word of mouth could be managed. These include:

  • strong foundations for WOM: Word of mouth as a form of advertisement requires the establishment of a strong foundation for WOM. This means that managers need to seek sufficient amounts of information regarding satisfaction and commitment. Trust is also another key factor that managers should seek to establish. They can establish trust by maintaining quality standards and responding to customer queries in an efficient and effective manner.
  • indirect management of WOM advertising: In indirect management, the managers only exercise minimal control in areas such as controversial advertising and teaser campaigns among other areas.
  • directly management of WOM advertising. Direct word of mouth marketing management portrays managers as having higher control levels over WOMM. This is done by paying WOM agents or initiating schemes such as ‘friend gets friend’ and so on.

Word of mouth is more than just rumor mongering, it has evolved to become a worthy advertising tool that has proved to be effective in promoting/advertising goods and services. Word of mouth has grown to be a million dollar form of advertisement that is applied by business enterprises both great and small.