Word of mouth drives an estimated 13% of global sales. In 2021 that was US$6 trillion worth of business. I’m sure we can agree that in Zimbabwe that percentage is likely to be higher than 13%. Even if we consider sales where word of mouth is the final factor that cements a sale it is big. And you can motivate and incentivise word of mouth when it comes to your business. There are less aggressive but possibly more effective ways of getting word of mouth to work in your favour as a business. Let’s explore them below.


Just to be clear what we mean here is to deliver on your promise to the customer and not offer delivery of products. That’s good too but not necessary for getting word of mouth on your side. Many if not most people speak to their friends about great goods and services they have received. The majority of sales processes involve consulting friends, family or peer groups for recommendations or critique. Nothing sells like a great product and the same goes for generating word of mouth. Remember to consider your user experience in this as well, it forms part of the product.


It is neither here nor there just how much asking contributes to word of mouth. It’s not easy to do because many may not be of the disposition that asks people to recommend a business to their friends. It’s also hard to say what percentage of people who ask for recommendations get them and further what percentage of those recommendations lead to business. However, I would rather be in the position of asking 100 times and getting 1 recommendation than asking zero times and getting zero recommendations. One tip is to reserve this to asking customers who have proven to be happy with your business through repeat business and loyalty.

Be likeable

I hinted at this earlier when I spoke about considering your customer experience as well when it comes to delivering on your promise. Here’s the thing many won’t tell you; recommending someone to a business or product is more than just rattling off a suggestion. When someone recommends a business they are putting their neck on the line as their word is on the line. This matters more the closer the relationship with the person they are telling. One wrong move and Tete maiBrenda will remind everyone at every family gathering for the next 15 years how bad your recommendation was. So put yourself in the shoes of the recommender and think about how likeable you are. As a person, as a team, as a business. Is the experience of working with you enjoyable? Enough to recommend to people I am close to?

Show you care

As someone who has also been involved in business-to-business (B2B) word-of-mouth recommendations one thing that matters to the recommender is how much you care. How can you care about people you don’t know? It’s not about caring about people but rather caring about the work you do and your reputation. There are people I feel very comfortable recommending people because of their commitment to the solution. Everyone can sell a product (whether good or service) but not everyone can address all the needs of a customer. Some are outside the scope of the product, at least on the surface. Show your customers that you care and they can trust you with their recommendations.

Be a part of the community

No business operates in a vacuum. Like it or not there is some sort of community, at least one, that every business is involved in. The corner vendor is a community of fruit or vegetable consumers. The baker is in a community of confectionery consumers. So what does it mean to be part of the community? It varies for every business but boils down to understanding how customers come to your product, interact with your product and where they go after interacting with your product. It’s how Coca-Cola figured out that sponsoring eating and drinking places in even the most remote areas will get their product imprinted on Zimbabweans.

Word of mouth isn’t rocket science but it is a discipline that has its own rules. Follow them and watch your referral rate grow.