Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chocolate, Pretzels, and the Power of Word of Mouth

There's no denying the truth. I love chocolate. In fact, it’s one of the many things that bonds me to my Alley sisters. Now put chocolate over pretzels and I’m gone. As in, gone to heaven and don’t want to return to reality any time soon.

So this is what prompted a very intellectual discussion at a recent haircut of mine. A commercial for pretzel M&Ms came on in the background, and my stylist and I got talking about them.

I said, “Y’know, I really don’t care for pretzel M&Ms.” [Don’t worry, M&M makers, you’ve hooked me with your peanut butter M&Ms] “They just don’t have enough pretzel flavor for me. If I want that combo, I’ll eat chocolate-covered pretzels.”

Her reply: “Have you ever tried Take 5 bars? They’ve got chocolate, pretzels, caramel, peanuts, and peanut butter.”

My jaw promptly dropped to my cape and I said, “Are you kidding me? That sounds amazing. I might just have to get one on my way home.”

And you know what? I did. And it was so good that I scarfed it down in minutes. And I’m secretly plotting how I can get my hands on another one and scarf it down this afternoon.

Now THAT is the power of word of mouth. A casual conversation about our favorite flavor combos, and *bam* I’m a customer for life.

That’s what we want to do with our fiction. We want to develop a brand that combines mouth-watering…er, page-turning…ingredients. And then we want to write another book with those elements and another book.

Because if we make a good enough combo (i.e., develop our craft skillfully), we’ll have people telling their friends about us. “You like a book that challenges your faith and makes you laugh until you snort? You’ve GOTTA check out Jenny Jones’ book Just Between You and Me.” “You want a book full of godly passion? I just read one of Julie Lessman’s books, and now I’m hooked.”

So keep working on your craft, keep pulling out those elements that are unique to you, and some day you’ll have readers passing on a good word. Oh, and feel free to eat a Take 5 bar while you’re at it.

Have you ever tried a new product or a new book based solely on someone's recommendation? Did you remain a fan for life? And since I'm in a chocolate kind of mood, tell me your favorite chocolate candy-bar combo.

*Chocolate bar photo by Graur Codrin /


Sarah Forgrave is a stay-at-home writer-mom who feels blessed to pursue her calling and passion. She writes contemporary romance for the inspirational market and is a regular contributor to the webzine Ungrind.

To learn more about Sarah, visit her personal blog at:


Wendy Paine Miller said...

I wholeheartedly believe in word of mouth and it's often I'll purchase a book based on this.

Dove anything.
I like nuts. But this likely will not surprise you. ;)
~ Wendy

Jessica R. Patch said...

I'm like this with TV shows. When I hear a friend rave, I check it out. That's how I've become a fan of The Office and many other shows.

Word of mouth really reaches far! Great post, Sarah!

Hutt-Write Voice said...

Word of mouth is powerful for sure. But, I guess, so is word on in point: Take 5...not really my favourite chocolate, but it's OK and you got my mouth watering for my favourite, Twix... oh and European chocolate, Milka and Rittersport. I'm hoping someone will get me some for Christmas.(-:
Am enjoying Writer's Alley!

Keli Gwyn said...

I buy most of my books these days based on reviews I see on blogs. If someone else likes a story enough to post a rave review and it sounds like something I'd enjoy, I pop over to Amazon and add it to my list of books to check out.

I gave up chocolate years ago (because I liked it too much--and it showed ;-), but when I did eat it, my favorites were Nestlé Crunch bars, plain M&Ms, and Reese's peanut butter cups. I'd better stop now since I'm tempting myself.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

You are so right about word of mouth. It's the most powerful way of advertising. I've been helping my sister shop for wedding venues and we found some through on-line searches and heard of others through word of mouth. And let me tell you, the ones we heard about from others were hands down the best and one of those is the venue my sister picked. All her vendors will probably come from recommendations, too.

Word of mouth works the same way with books. Sure I've come across some great ones through random searches or just plucking them from the shelves but some of my recent favorites are from recommendations from other readers.

No candy bars with nuts, but anything chocolate and caramel. Yum!

Beth K. Vogt said...

So often it's all about word of mouth for me. Yes, occasionally I'll try a book because it's featured somewhere. But if someone else says, "I love this author" -- that makes a huge difference!
Favorite chocolate candybar? 3 Musketeers. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. But it can't be stale.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wendy - Good choice on the Dove chocolate...especially with nuts. :)

Jessica - So true about TV. I just watched Big Bang Theory after your blog post last week. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Linda - I love Twix too. And I'll have to get myself to Europe and try those chocolates you mentioned. :) Thanks for stopping by today!

Keli - I agree about reviews. I always scan over them in Amazon too before I buy a book, just to make sure there aren't any major red flags. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Cindy - Interesting to hear your experience with wedding venues. What a fun thing to share with your sister! And I agree with you on the chocolate and caramel thing...yum! :)

Beth - I especially listen when a friend is well-read and recommends something. It says a lot, doesn't it? Oh, and stale chocolate = bad, bad, bad.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Sarah, fun post. :) I like chocolate and pretzels, but now that I'm a gluten free gal, those aren't an option. But, give me chocolate and mint, or chocolate and raspberries, and I'm in trouble. :) I confess, I usually buy one box of Junior Mints a week, just to satisfy that craving.

Some of the best books I've read have come from friends' recommendations. I've gotten a few for my Kindle by authors I've read before, too. Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools out there.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Hi Jeanne! A girl's gotta cheat once in a while, right? :) And isn't it great having a Kindle? Instant reading material when something new comes out. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I prefer word of mouth advertisement. When I walk into a bookstore I want to have something in mind. I don't like to trust back cover print or front cover pics-I've been let down several times. But when someone says "I just read ..." Well I want that book. But will settle for another book by the same author if the original book isn't available.

My candy: any dark chocolate.

Pepper said...

Delicious post, Sarah ;-)

Very important question:
Have you had Hershey's dark chocolate covered pretzels?
Oh heavens....YUM! I have about 10 pieces left in my bag...each Alley sister gets one ;-)

YUM! I'll run out and buy another one for all of our wonderful Alley Pals. SEriously. They're a GREAT combo!

And Take 5s? Yep, so good!

The best kind of writing is the best blends of flavors to leave us satisfied!

I'm hungry - not just for chocolate, but for a good story ;-)

Angie Dicken said...

I picked up Susan Meisner's Lady In Waiting after her editor recommended it at ACFW. It is great ! And as far as chocolate goes...British Cadburys is best...especially Crunch bar which has a melt-in-your-mouth honeycomb! Yum!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Mary - I've been let down too...never fun, especially when I spent $10 on the thing. :)

Pepper - I've never heard of the Hershey pretzels, but I'm adding them to my grocery list. Yum! :)

Angie - I've heard good things about Susan's writing...sounds like I need to get moving on that one. :)