What is B2B Word of Mouth Marketing?
Growing your company is the biggest challenge that you face. You may not realize it, but the best way to grow is through the customers that you already have. Your customers already know your business and they’ve already made the commitment to patronize your company.
What you need from those customers is to begin a conversation in which they let others know how they feel. You want to encourage them to ‘shout it from a rooftop’ about how much they like your product or service. This is what marketers would call “Word of Mouth” advertising.
Using word of mouth is not only cost effective, it is the most powerful method to acquire customers, and growth by customer retention is the core of any successful business. Business to Business word of mouth tops my personal marketing list in importance!
An important statistic to remember, 91% of B2B purchases are influenced by word of mouth.
Why is Word of Mouth so Vital?
Why do you think word of mouth is so vital to B2B companies? For most businesses the expense of most of their B2B purchases are much larger than their B2C purchases. This means that there is a greater risk attached to B2B decision making. With greater risk, decision makers want to avoid mistakes which could be expensive.
The best way that buyers avoid mistakes is by listening to current customers. Following online and offline word of mouth makes risk avoidance much easier to achieve. In our gut, we know this to be true, certainly word of mouth is important for B2B.
Even with this in mind, few companies have an actual strategy for encouraging customer conversations. Word of mouth may be the most important part of your B2B success, and you need to give it the attention it deserves.
If you want to succeed, adopt these 7 principles of Business 2 Business word of mouth marketing.
B2B Word of Mouth Must be Purposeful
Nearly all companies take a puzzling hands off approach to word of mouth marketing. Companies simply assume that their customers will talk about their business. Will they try to use word of mouth? What will they be saying?
Since 91% of B2B purchases are affected by word of mouth, it’s smart business to develop a word of mouth marketing strategy. At the Better Business Alliance we understand that every Brand should do effective word of mouth marketing, using speech triggers to encourage the conversation.
Speech triggers are the terms that help you create the customer engagement you desire.
B2B Word of Mouth is a 50/50 Proposition
Successfully done, Word of Mouth marketing is a 50/50 proposition. In my own best case, 47% of customers might comment about a Speech Trigger. These are the seekers who make up 25% of your customers and the experience advisors who consist of 22%.
The seekers and experience advisors love the unique and they both are quick to recommend things to other people. The other two types of customers are the fans and the skeptics. Neither of these groups is likely to engage and become voluntary marketers for your Brand.
Fans are not impressed by something different and clever, while skeptics feel that anything different is most likely a trick. This means that your expectations of how well WOM will work in B2B marketing should be realistic. A wildly successful WOM strategy might engage about half of your customers.
You may create a buzz among that 47%. Which is certainly worth attempting.
These Factors are Paramount
Consistency is Key to Your Success
Being Consistent is the key to any successful B2B Word of Mouth Strategy. A trap many B2B companies fall into is thinking that they have to do something huge for it to be the memorable Speech Trigger they need.
Many brands believe this and they fall over themselves trying to surprise and delight their customers. They don’t understand that surprise and delight is where you take one customer. You treat that customer much differently than the rest of your customers.
This might work. But it’s not the Speech Trigger you are looking for. You need something that will create an ongoing conversation about your Brand. Surprise and delight is a publicity stunt. But, it’s not a word of mouth strategy, because it’s not reliable, repeatable or scalable.
Surprise and delight is a lottery ticket, not a strategic plan for B2B word of mouth marketing.
Speech Triggers Aren’t Marketing
A Speech Trigger is something you do in your business, it’s not something you say in your business. A Speech Trigger is not typical marketing. Speech Triggers are not a prize or a promotion.
Speech Triggers create a marketing advantage, turning customers into volunteer marketers.
Be Memorable and Remarkable
Most B2B companies play follow the leader. If a business breaks out of the box and does something unique it creates a buzz and gets people talking about them. You can’t just analyze your competitor’s actions and then try to mimic them and hope to succeed.
Following the leader never creates any chatter about your business. Just being competent doesn’t create conversations. Being competent reduces churn and prevents customer defection. But it doesn’t give customers the urge to tell a story about your business. And that’s what word of mouth is all about.
To get your customers to tell stories about your business, you must do something that your customers don’t expect. The best B2B companies choose to do one thing different from all their competitor’s. It’s that one different thing that acts as their Speech Trigger.
It’s their Speech Trigger that energizes their word of mouth strategy and gets people sharing and telling everyone they know about that one thing. There is a free conference call service called Uberconference and their business model is most other companies in their category. Except for their Speech Trigger….
Their Speech Trigger is hilarious on-hold music written and performed by their CEO. The @uberconference hold song is a country song called “On Hold” written solely for being on-hold. It’s gone viral, people are tweeting about it to their friends, you can even find it on YouTube. Uberconference has a Speech Trigger that is memorable and starts conversations about their Brand.
Your Speech Trigger needs to be remarkable and memorable.
What’s the Worst Way to Create WOM
The absolute worst way to flesh out a word of mouth strategy is the one that almost everyone tries. You can’t just get your team together and brainstorm. Trying to come up with that viral idea that will create the customer chatter you desire doesn’t work.
If it was that easy, your Speech Trigger would already exist. If an effective word of mouth strategy was simply a matter of getting smart people together, every company would have a word of mouth strategy. Instead, hardly any companies having an effective word of mouth strategy.
The best way to create a Speech Trigger is the hard way, using research, examining your process, interviewing customers and performing trials. The most important part of the whole process is the customer interviews.
Talk to your customers, find out what your buyers expect at each step of the customer journey. When you know what customers expect, that’s where your Speech Trigger Lives. It’s in what is unexpected.
Your Speech Trigger is doing the unexpected.
Measuring Your B2B Word of Mouth Success
It’s difficult to quantify specific sales to word of mouth, unless your company has a customer referral program. Here’s how we recommend measuring word of mouth effectiveness, with a three question survey.
Ask each customer three questions. Ask them these questions after they’ve made the purchase and have definitely experienced what the Speech Trigger is for your company. Ask each customer these questions at about the same post-trigger exposure interval, to eliminate bias due to recency.
Ask Questions in a Customer Survey
Usually, B2B companies ask these questions by attaching them to an existing survey.
Question 1: Online or offline, how many people have you told about your experiences with our company?
Here, you’re trying to gauge the amount of information exchange, and whether this customer is likely to engage in word of mouth, or already has.
Question 2: What did you say?
Here, you’re looking for mention of the Speech Trigger.
Question 3: Did you discuss any of these things?
Here, you present a list of company characteristics, each with a checkbox. Six company characteristics should be listed, one of which is the Speech Trigger. You’re looking for mention of the Speech Trigger in a prompted list.
There is a much more to having a successful B2B word of mouth strategy, above what we have discussed here. I just wanted to give you some of the key pieces of what a Word of Mouth Strategy can do for your business.