by: Jon Miller

Customers today have become adept at tuning out unwanted marketing. Personally, I am in the business of marketing, and yet still I tune out as much marketing as I can.

I use TiVo and haven’t watched a TV ad in ages, scan right past the ads in my Economist and Entertainment Weekly, automatically recycle any direct mail I receive, and aggressively delete any email I haven’t explicitly asked to receive.

There are basically only two ways modern buyers learn about new products, brands, or services:

  1. They actively seek something out using a search engine
  2. They hear about it through word of mouth from a source they trust

B2B marketers can engage with modern buyers by practicing attention marketing. I’ve already written a lot about the first technique, using search engine marketing so you show up when customers seek you out. Here, I’ll focus on the second, commonly called Word of Mouth Marketing. This starts, of course, with having a good product that satisfies a need or want. It then means facilitating conversations between customers, prospects, partners, and influencers. According the WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association) B2B marketers should:

  • Identify the members of their community who are most likely to share opinions,
  • Seek out how, where, and when they share their opinions,
  • Provide methods to make it easier to share opinions, and
  • Listen the opinions; and respond appropriately to everyone – the supporters, the detractors, and the neutrals.

Of course, don’t fall into the trap of investing in community-based techniques without having a plan in place to measure the marketing impact on hard metrics like revenue and growth. This starts with having clear, defined objectives for your program. These can include raising your Net Promoter Score (which ties to growth), creating inbound links to raise organic rankings (which ties to traffic), or enhancing brand awareness (which ties to higher response rates). It can even include capturing customer feedback to influence the product roadmap – just make sure your organization understands Marketing’s contribution to that process.

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