Word of Mouth – The Most Powerful Marketing Tool

It has long been known that the tongue is by far the most powerful networking tool at the disposal of an entrepreneur.  Yet it is the most overlooked.

Instead, we spend a disproportionate amount of time on less effective tools like flyers, and signboards, and non-engaging websites (when last did you see a Zenith bank advert on TV or on Google?).

While these other platforms should not be overlooked, it is time we paid a little more attention to ‘word of mouth’ marketing. It is the process by which your reputation speaks on your behalf.

It is the process by which referral businesses come about. When you are recommended by others even in your absence. Of course, it also  means having to create the reputation in the first place. But today, we will turn the tables.

Word of mouth is not only about what you get, it must include what you give.

What you say about others reveals a lot about your own character, and if you want the right things said about your business, you must say the right things about other people and their businesses.

So we will examine 2 guides, 1st, the popular Rotary Club 4-way test, and the 2nd, a story attributed to the great Greek philosopher, Socrates. In truth, the story may have been based on the 4-way test, and has nothing to do with the philosopher. However, it is still reproduced below because the message is clearer as a story.

The 4-Way Test of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned


In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say . The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

“Well, no,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”
“All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now, let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”

“Umm, no, on the contrary…”
“So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about my friend, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left—the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”
“No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

Happy weekend all.


Ifeanyi Maduka

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