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BtoB vs. BtoC word of mouth

Almost every time I speak the first or second question from the audience is "What about BtoB word of mouth." 

I always give the same answer … and it rarely satisfies the asker …but it’s what I believe:  BtoB word of mouth is the same as BtoC word of mouth.

The topic is different, the talkers are different, but the mechanics of
a successful word of mouth moment are product-independent.

Word of mouth is about the people doing the talking. Who they ask, why they make a recommendation, and what they say.  I doesn’t matter what the product is, because word of mouth is always between two people.  If you want WOM for jelly or jet planes you still have a potential buyer having a conversation with a recommender. 

Oddly, no one would question this if we were talking about newspaper ads. You design an ad and pay for the space.  Of course, you need to make sure it’s the right message in the right audience.  For word of mouth, you need to get the right influencers talking about a relevant message.

Sean O’Driscoll of Microsoft says it well:

This question (and answer) reminded me of an issue I’ve long been
passionate about.  Many B2B companies struggle accepting the validity
of the evidence of the methods of B2C companies (and vice verse) as
there is a fundamental assumption that the marketing rules are
different.  Even in companies that are both B2B and B2C, these two
marketing functions sit in different places organizationally and really
don’t typically interact with one another:  co-existence vs
co-learning.  Ok, some things are different; the messages and the
delivery vehicles would be good examples.  But what influences buying
or trust or referral behavior aren’t different, are they?  Businesses
don’t buy products, people inside businesses buy products.  I work in a
large corporation and I approve many large POs on a regular basis to
buy good and/or services.  When you sell to me, you are not selling to
a business, you are selling to a consumer who represents a business and
your track-record for success (ie references or past experiences) is
still the #1 deciding factor in who gets the business.

(Read the full post)

Keith Bates, Gary Slack, Gary Spangler, and Ellis Booker might disagree.

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Comments

  1. The Transfer July 20, 2007 at 3:11 pm #

    Favorite Posts/Links for July16-20

    Pandora.com-I alluded to this site a little earlier in the week but I feel I didnt give it the credit it deserved. Ive created 2 stations so far, one very Tool-esque, and the other based on the sounds of Skillet. Very cool site.
    Zecco.co…

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