Word of Mouth Marketing for B2Bs: Let’s Set the Record Straight
Word of mouth marketing has been a subject of discussion in inbound marketing circles for quite some time. It’s a particularly challenging subject for B2Bs, who function in niche industries like manufacturing. Many B2Bs feel that word of mouth marketing is the only, best way to get leads. And while we certainly won’t disagree that word of mouth marketing is powerful, we do have some thoughts (and some stats to back them up), about why traditional word of mouth marketing is out, and why modern word of mouth marketing can’t stand on its own if you’re trying to grow your company.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what word of mouth marketing is, in both the traditional and the modern sense, and we’re going to talk about when you need it, and when you don’t.
Word of mouth marketing (or WOMM for short) is a big component of many marketing strategies, but we’re here to tell you why it shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy. Let’s start by taking a look at what WOMM is:
Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing
Traditional word of mouth marketing is exactly what it sounds like. Before the internet exploded in popularity, companies built brand awareness and grew their business primarily from having their customers talk about them to other industry members.
In B2B applications, especially in the manufacturing industry, this was a major driver of business because the industries are so niche. The best way to get quality leads was to have a quality reputation. When you had that, you could rely on WOMM to get you both the leads that you wanted and the ones you needed.
Unfortunately, following the internet boom, WOMM has seen a slow decline in success, even for those B2B manufacturers who have relied on it as their primary form of marketing for decades. So why isn’t traditional WOMM working anymore?
Why Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing Doesn’t Cut it Anymore
The number one answer to that question is the internet. When the internet blew up, it became easy for anyone to find the products, services, and solutions they needed, right from their own computer or smartphone. No need to pick up a phone or talk to a friend — the necessary information was directly at the consumer’s fingertips.
For B2Bs, and particularly B2B manufacturers, this change happened slowly. These industries are niche, and many manufacturers feel that they know the key players without heading to the web.
Today, though, as many incoming engineers and manufacturing sales professionals are tech natives, used to finding solutions and products online, manufacturers are realizing the importance of having a web presence and a dedicated marketing team.
In all honesty, if you’re still relying on traditional WOMM to bring in leads, you’re not going to see the same growth as your competition.
To continue to grow and be successful as a company, in any industry, a legitimate digital presence is a required qualification.
Why? Well, that’s where modern word of mouth marketing comes in.
Modern Word of Mouth Marketing
If I had a dime for every time a prospective client said, “oh we get 90% of our leads through referrals. We’re not sure if digital marketing will really move the needle.” I probably wouldn’t be writing these blogs anymore.
Guess what? They’re almost always wrong. Why?
Because while traditional marketing methods did bring in a whole bunch of leads for a number of B2Bs in the past, in today’s digital world, the internet has flipped the switch.
Enter modern word of mouth marketing.
What is Modern Word of Mouth Marketing?
Also known as amplified word of mouth marketing, this new, modern version of WOMM takes advantage of all the new technology that has erupted in the past decade or so, like Facebook, Linkedin, and Google. All of these platforms encourage what is essentially a digital form of word of mouth marketing with reviews that can be published and shared.
For many companies, this amplified or modern WOMM has taken the place of traditional word of mouth marketing. But it’s better.
With traditional marketing, you could get referral leads, but usually only from people in your area, who you knew or had talked to at a conference or trade show.
How Does Modern Word of Mouth Marketing Work?
Modern WOMM eliminates the need for any of that proximity. You get all of the benefits of traditional marketing — the company goodwill, the great reputation, and the warm leads — without the constraints.
Anyone can go online, read your reviews, and make a decision about your company and product. They don’t have to be from the same town or even the same country!
Studies have shown that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much, or more than personal recommendations.
According to PowerReviews, 97% of consumers consult product reviews.
You already knew that WOMM was important. These facts just drive home the point that digital reviews have taken the place of traditional word of mouth marketing.
What’s more, this digital strategy works much harder for you than traditional word of mouth marketing. Take a look:
- Reviews can be shared, posted, and boosted with social media ad spend
- Digital reviews make it easier for you to connect with your clients and customers. Easily see who’s left a review, and what they’ve said.
- Build visible trust. The more positive reviews and comments your company gets, the more trust you’ll have with people just learning about your brand.
- The ROI is outstanding. According to IMPACT, word of mouth marketing generates 2x more sales than paid ads. And it doesn’t cost you much if anything at all.
Why Any Form of WOMM Alone Won’t Get You Leads
Alright, so modern word of mouth marketing is awesome. I hope we’ve made that clear. At no point would we ever say that word of mouth marketing wasn’t worthwhile, for any company in any industry.
With that in mind, it is important, especially for my B2Bs out there to remember that modern WOMM isn’t going to help your company grow on its own. To explain why, let’s go back to a statement I made about traditional word of mouth marketing earlier.
“The best way to get quality leads was to have a quality reputation.”
That’s still true of modern word of mouth marketing.
In today’s world, you can’t have a quality reputation without a quality digital presence.
Anyone who hears about an awesome company, whether you manufacture parts for automobiles or you develop excellent machine test technology, is going to head to the company’s website first.
If your website is shitty and from 2001, that lead won’t stick around.
For the sake of example, let’s say you have an awesome new website. That lead is interested in your company.
But, when they start clicking through your website, they can’t figure out how your products are priced. There’s no pricing sheet for them to download, or even a content offer explaining to them the differences between your products and product models. Or worse, maybe they can’t figure out how to contact you.
You’ve lost that lead again.
WOMM is Best Used in Conjunction with a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy
There are a lot more examples I could use, but I think you’ve probably gotten the point. In today’s digital era, WOMM on its own isn’t going to help your company grow.
While modern WOMM — with reviews and comments that can be shared, liked, and interacted with — is a useful and proven tool, it should not be the only way you expect to generate leads.
If you’re a manufacturing company that’s lived off of word of mouth referrals for decades, it’s important to realize that the times are changing. Even with excellent referrals, you’re not going to see the growth you could be capitalizing on if you don’t invest in a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Things like:
- A website optimized for search engines
- Calls to action
- Unique landing pages that capture leads
- Well-ranking content that puts you ahead of the competition
- A professional presence on social media platforms
All of these are factors that will help boost your modern word of mouth marketing potential, and help your company grow as a whole.
Digital marketing works best when it is applied in a comprehensive fashion.
Just one or two strategies aren’t going to help your company grow.
While word of mouth marketing is important for your B2B company, it’s important to realize that there are so many other strategies out there that could be helping you get more word of mouth leads, and just more leads in general.
If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, or if you’re convinced that digital marketing isn’t going to put you that much farther ahead than the referrals you’re already getting, I invite you to check out the case study below.
In it, we’ve outlined with clarity how a comprehensive digital marketing strategy has put this cleanroom manufacturer ahead of the competition and helped them grow significantly throughout our partnership.
And if you’ve got more questions about word of mouth marketing for B2Bs, or if you’re interested to see how a full digital marketing strategy could put you ahead of those manufacturers who still rely solely on word of mouth, please get in touch. We’re here and we’re more than happy to help.