WOM - findlayThe online world is overcrowded. It’s impossible to find what you want, difficult to find suppliers and even harder to find the suppliers you want.

Everyone is competing globally for the top spot, and content just seems to be churning the same old sh*t. “Experts” have been replaced by “thought leaders” who have nothing or very little to add to the conversation; social media is becoming unmanageable through the constant forwarding of other people’s content, and all of it is driven by Google, which encourages us to do more and more of it.

My view: word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing and referral-based marketing is the new way to win business.

Too many people think they can take the easy route and simply get a website, promote it and win business. And you know what? If you are a B2C sales company, you probably can. However, B2B is based on trust and relationships, not pretty pictures and great text. Yes, pretty pictures and great text support your message, but many other businesses can do this as well.

The key to B2B is building a culture and a network that enables you to connect to companies that may need your services. Through referral, you will get a third-party endorsement that can make half the sale for you. This is a long game, but when it is up and running, it will simply require you to maintain focus on your best referrers and ensure that you also refer to them.

However, you do need a networking strategy and a process. Who do I naturally feed, and who naturally feeds me? The people we feed are SEO, printers, mobile and Web/tech companies. However, they don’t naturally feed us. They are at the end of my food chain and therefore find it hard to get clients who need us to do our magic because they typically deliver work when it has already been created.

Companies that feed us have conversations with clients before they have started the branding process. These companies have access to businesses in our target area and strong enough relationships to be able to refer our services and get their clients to take action. This is why we network with solicitors, M&A companies, accountants, investment groups, etc. These companies are having conversations with companies that will be spending on branding and marketing and need some assistance finding someone who will help them and keep their best interests in mind. They have a high-trust relationship with their clients, and when they refer us, we benefit from that trust, too.

A word of caution though: WOM is the hardest thing to build and the easiest to destroy. You must think about what your brand stands for and ensure that you deliver at all times. Networks have a funny habit of speaking to each other. Therefore, if you do something bad, it will be around your network in a flash, and it may impact all the hard work you have put in.

Online is important, but for me, the real work and opportunities are offline.

Originally published Aug 23, 2013 1:00:24 AM, updated December 02 2014

Topics:

Word of Mouth Marketing