Word-of-Mouth Marketing
What is it?
More Resources

Here are some simple ways to get "the buzz" started about your library.

1. Ask people to spread the word.

  • Put the phrase "Tell a Friend" or "Pass it on" on your web page, in your newsletter, on program/event announcements, and on library promotional materials (ex. flyers, bookmarks).

2. Surprise people by giving them something extra they don't expect.

  • Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing talks about receiving a bag of M&M's in each order of laminating supplies by mail. Since it was initially unexpected, he has shared "the surprise" with a number of people. Now the office interns regularly come to steal his candy!

3. Give away free stuff with your logo on it.

  • It raises awareness, starts conversations, and gets people asking about your organization.

4. Promote positive testimonials.

  • Include them on your website, in your newsletter, and on other marketing materials. Make sure you get permission from the person to use their words in print or online.

5. Utilize passive word of mouth marketing.

  • Amazon offers the "Customers who bought this item also bought" feature; several newspaper stories have a list of the most "emailed or top-searched stories." Such features let you know what others think are important or interesting.
    Libraries might translate this strategy to offer a list of "What People are Attending" (Ex.- your most popular programs) "Customer Favorites" (Ex. the most popular books this month) or "What People Want to Know"" (Ex. your most popular reference questions.) All of these could easily be included on a library website, along with a link to "forward to a friend."

6. Make an unhappy user happy.

  • Find out what they are dissatisfied with and do your best to fix or amend the situation. Explain that you want users to have a good experience with your library and that you appreciate their feedback. Since pleasantly resolving someone's problems is not common practice in our society, it is likely they will share this with friends and family. You have given them something uncommon to talk about.

7. Get a key stakeholder to experience a product or service.

  • This could be a community leader, respected businessperson, or someone notable in the community. They have many avenues for active promotion.

8. Form a Customer Advisory Group

  • This is a great way to get input and ideas from users and presents a unique opportunity for you to feed them messages and information that they will spread to their personal connections.

Have more ideas? Please share them with us!

Word-of-Mouth Marketing: What it is…

"Giving people a reason to talk about your stuff and making it easier for that conversation to take place." (Sernovitz, 2006)

Why it Matters

"Word of mouth marketing has always been around, but we now have the tools and knowledge to manage it (email, blogs, customer review sites etc.)" (Sernovitz, 2006)

"In today's information age, we don't have time to investigate and deliberate. Word of mouth has become a necessary timesaver." (Silverman, 2001)

A few key aspects that make word-of-mouth so powerful:

  • It's considered more credible than any other form of promotion. This is because it involves informal communication among people independent of the company selling the product or service.
  • It is customer driven
  • It saves time and money

Additional Resources:
The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing: How to Trigger Exponential Sales Through Runaway Word of Mouth/ George Silverman, 2001.

Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking/Andy Sernovitz, 2006.

Have more ideas? Please share them with us!

This toolkit was created on behalf of the 2007-2008 Building Your Base (BYB) project. BYB is funded by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds,
awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.


Home | Public Library Catalog | Calendar | Contacts | Services | Bulletins | Member Libraries | MHLS Board of Trustees | Web Site Index

Administration & Management | Resource Sharing & Millennium | Reference & Collection Development | Library Programming | Professional Development | Marketing, Advocacy & Funding | Youth Services | Trustee Resources