By Lauren Dichter, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

How cool is it that the most effective way to market your B2B company is also the most cost-efficient way to market it? If this sounds too good to be true, let me explain.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the single most compelling marketing tactic to date, and it always has been. As a consumer, don’t you feel great about making a purchase when your close friend has told you all about the product?

Here’s an example: Since the popularity of sponsored posts makes it hard to trust the truthfulness of product review articles, I don’t buy any skincare or beauty products without first running it by my sister and group of friends. Have they tried the product, or know anyone who has? What was their experience? Did it do what it claimed to do? Would they buy it again? Do they think it’s the right product for me and my needs?

Now take your own experience as a B2C consumer and apply it to the B2B space. While all marketing tactics make some sort of impact, wouldn’t having a conversation with a trusted colleague about a product or service be more convincing than a digital ad? Personalization in marketing is key, and nothing—not even targeted marketing—can rival the personal nature of an actual relationship.

Then vs. Now

Up until quite recently, the standard formula for how to think about sales and marketing was a funnel, with marketing at the top and sales at the bottom. The customer—if included in the formula at all—is an afterthought.

The new and better way to think about sales and marketing is a flywheel instead of a funnel. It values the customer’s experience most because fostering word-of-mouth marketing has a greater impact than any other tactic.

Why is the flywheel better?

By placing the customer in the center of the marketing and sales strategy, providing excellent service becomes a key function of the marketing and sales team. And as we’ve seen, excellent service is a marketing tactic in itself—one that makes marketers jobs easier!

B2B customer retention directly impacts a customer’s willingness and desire to advocate for your brand, which in turn impacts how much effort marketers and salespeople need to put in to closing new deals. Customers stay with a company for a reason, so if there’s high customer retention, there’s also high enthusiasm for the value your company provides.

“Outstanding customer communication creates a vital connection with your customers, which is a foundation for advocacy. Companies that provide an emotional connection with customers outperform the sales growth of their competitors by 85%, while 49% of customers will leave if they feel unappreciated.” Operating with the flywheel formula enables marketers to catch their breath because stellar customer experiences are often the main driver of new business.

Customers promoting and advocating for your company via their networks both online and in-person is powerful, especially if their customer experience was so great they’re motivated to share information about your company on an ongoing basis, engage with your company on social media, and stay up-to-date with your company’s latest pivots, achievements, launches, and more.

In many prospects’ eyes’, only a company’s current and former customers can be trusted. So, if your company has done its job to create brand advocates who feel inspired to share positive and authentic and coverage of your company across their networks, the work is already done.

Your B2B company is gaining visibility and is being promoted to like-minded individuals at similar organizations. In essence, the business is coming to you! Just keep improving your customer’s experience and the new sales will flow naturally.

How do you implement the flywheel?

  • Place a heavy emphasis on training your customer service team to handle requests, issues, etc. to delight and empower customers. Equip them with tools they need to do so effectively.
  • Ensure the customer journey is exceptional by understanding how your customer feels before, during, and after an interaction with your organization. Meet them where they’re are with relevant messaging via the most appropriate channels.
  • Work to make each touchpoint a customer has with your brand a positive experience, rather than negative or even just neutral. Neutral does nothing to inspire your customer into promoting your company!
  • Ensure your customer receives a personalized experience; not only do customers expect this kind of attention from the B2B companies they buy from, but they are more likely to promote your company if they feel their specific needs and requests were met with custom-fitted solutions. Personalization makes people feel special, and when you make people feel special, they will share that wonderful experience with their professional peers. Going above and beyond for your customers translates to them recommending your company to their friends and colleagues, because they assume you would put the same amount of effort and nuanced problem-solving into every potential new customer they direct to you.
  • Get involved in your company’s social media strategy. Don’t simply post content and sign-off; engage your audience, compliment key contacts at target accounts, ask them questions and answer their inquiries with thoughtfulness and tact. “If it feels like you are establishing a grounded and lasting relationship, that’s because you are.”
  • Use case studies showing company success to facilitate word-of-mouth marketing for a wider audience.
  • Measure how ideal of a customer experience you’re providing by having customers fill out an NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey. It will tell you how likely your customers are to be an advocate for and refer colleagues your company. It will also identify which areas need improvement and which are already top-notch.
  • Reward your loyal customers by featuring them in your content. “Testimonials, case studies, social posts and more are great ways to give exposure to both yourself and your customer. Gathering customer quotes as you work with customers makes them feel valued and gives you vital and authentic testimony to the value of your product or service offering.”

Customer Experience is Key

Now that you see the potential of the flywheel formula, what are your next steps? Is your customer retention high, or does the customer experience need tweaking? Do your B2B customers feel special and taken care of? Are you engaging with your customers on LinkedIn? Have you created content from current customers’ success stories?

Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!