Marketing Monkeybusiness: 5 WOM Antics to Avoid


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Last Friday I guest posted on Mark Schaefer’s epic {grow} blog (“8 Big Ideas to Drive B2B Buzz“) about word-of-mouth marketing techniques that work for B2B companies. While thinking about ways B2B marketers can get people buzzing, it occurred to me that there are quite a few shabby practices masquerading as word of mouth. If you engage in any of the practices below, you might want to rethink them. They aren’t likely to help your company’s reputation. If your vendor or agency engages in them, you might want to rethink your partnership.

So here goes: 5 ill-advised word-of-mouth marketing practices:

1. Hijacking someone else’s event. Let’s say a major organization is hosting an event that your prospects are likely to attend. Rather than invest in a sponsorship, you decide to get cute. You hold your own satellite event nearby – a dinner or meet-up – and surreptitiously invite guests who “just so happen” to be in town to attend the larger event. This hijack isn’t word-of-mouth marketing. It’s parasite marketing. Don’t attach yourself to a winner, be one.

2. Faking praise. I’ve blogged in the past about a dicey practice involving customer support staff strong-arming positive tweets when they close out cases. But this inauthentic behavior isn’t exclusive to Twitter. I’ve seen a rise in answers on Quora that contain messages lifted directly off of vendors’ websites. I’ve also seen vendors pose as customers and review their own products. It’s not hard for someone to identify a shill. Provide a product or service that earns praise and you won’t have to monkey around with faking it.

3. Copying leaders. There are a ton of fresh B2B marketing ideas out there. We are active in creative video and visual communications. Another company in the lead management software space, HubSpot, hosts a popular weekly “TV” series. Those styles are taken. Aping someone else’s style isn’t buzz-worthy. It’s one thing to be inspired by an innovator, but something else entirely to run your own .tv series because a cooler company does it. You might trigger some word of mouth, but will it be positive?

4. Buying reviews. This is a variation on the “faking praise” caution above. Basically, it goes a little something like this: “Review our product here. Say whatever you want, as long as it’s awesome. And we’ll fix you right up with something special.” There are all sorts of risks to that model. Steer clear … before you drive right into the FTC’s concrete wall.

5. Being a logo. Years ago, I went to see Dennis Hopper speak at Boston University. He talked about advice he received when he was a struggling artist. Someone said, “Kid, you’ve gotta ‘get tight’ and paint loose.” Always loved that. Too many brands are afraid to “paint loose,” especially on social networks. Force-feed your corporate style guide across the social Web and listen to the silence. Speak to your audience from “on high” and watch them scramble. Nobody talks to – or about – a logo. Lose the starch on social channels. It’ll get people talking.

We have a saying here at Eloqua: “Get it done and do it right.” Just because some of the practices above may get people talking, it still doesn’t mean the marketer is doing it right. B2B marketing needs more word of mouth. More importantly still, we need the right word of mouth.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joe Chernov
Joe is responsible for identifying, sourcing and distributing Eloqua's market-facing content over all relevant social channels. He also oversees public relations, analyst relations and social media. Joe doubles as @eloqua on Twitter. He co-chairs the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's member ethics panel and speaks at conferences and universities about social media and marketing ethics.


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