A recent StoryBrand podcast picked up on a topic that, in the age of social media and influencer marketing, hasn’t been as common as it once was, namely word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). The podcast featured an interview with marketer Jay Baer, who is a huge advocate for WOMM and has recently published a book titled Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth.
The recurring theme, unsurprisingly, throughout the podcast and the book, is that WOMM remains as impactful as ever and that all the best brands have a ‘talk trigger’, the one thing about their brand that makes people talk about them. For example, UK mobile phone service provider, Orange, from 2003 until 2014, offered its customers 2 for 1 cinema tickets every Wednesday. The promotion quickly became known as Orange Wednesday and was a huge hit amongst students and young people. So much so that movies and cinema became a central theme to the Company’s marketing strategy. Cinemas were packed out on Wednesday nights and any one who wasn't an Orange customer would avoid the movies that night. You would hear the same conversation coming from people walking past the lines to get in to the theatre. " What are all these people waiting to see?" "It's Orange Wednesday isn't it."
So with this in mind, should B2B marketers be taking another look at WOMM and is it possible to make it a strategic element of B2B campaigns?
The short answer is yes!
The numbers are regularly rolled out but studies by organizations such as Nielsen will tell you that around 80% of respondents, regardless of geographic location, completely trust a recommendation from friends or family. Our own brand studies in China track the same. Following not too far behind in the rankings, around two-thirds of respondents (66%) trust opinions posted online. From a B2B perspective, the stats are even more compelling as over 90% of B2B purchasers claim to have been swayed by word-of-mouth engagement.
So far so what. The power of word-of-mouth is not new. Well, what is new is the thinking that WOMM can be harnessed, and can be strategic. A few weeks ago Brandigo published a blog discussing brand purpose and its place in the B2B marketing mix. We received a lot of positive feedback from our readers and clients and I think there are parallels here with B2B WOMM. This is due to the fact that brand purpose is most effective when it is realistic, authentic, transparent and an inherent part of an organization's culture. Smart B2B marketers can shape their strategy around this in order to maximize its impact, and this is where I see the link with WOMM and Jay Baer’s point about ‘talk triggers’. If you can align all the elements, then you have a powerful marketing strategy that can truly elevate your brand.
Here at Brandigo Shanghai we have been working with the UK Government on their Food is GREAT campaign and as part of this, we have been working with some fantastic UK F&B brands. One company involved in the initiative makes premium small batch Gin. One of their products is named after a famous London garden and every year, the makers of the product visit the garden and select the actual botanicals used to make the latest batch from the Garden itself. This gives them a compelling ‘talk trigger’ that reflects their brand purpose to create innovative, premium Gins and they have incorporated this into their marketing strategy.
As with brand purpose, the most effective ‘talk triggers’ don’t come from the boardroom, they come from the shop floor. B2B marketers need to find out what it is that their customers and clients talk about when they are talking about them. We do this in the USA and other regions through social media listening, and in China through analysis of WeChat, Weibo and forums.
When you can identify what this is, then you can start to think strategically about word-of-mouth and be proactive in creating ‘talk triggers’ that drive WOMM and make it a more powerful tool in the B2B marketing toolkit and not something we simply hope for organically.