How this BtoB lumber company saves $250,000 a year on ads by earning word of mouth

Any business, selling any product, in any industry can earn word of mouth. Sure, it’s easier for some brands and some products — but every day we see someone doing it for ketchup, duct tape, and razor blades.

WindsorONE is one of our favorite examples of this. They’re a BtoB company, they sell trim boards, and their industry got crushed by the housing collapse.

But they’re surviving and thriving on the love and recommendation of their fans. They’re everything the word of mouth movement represents: They’re creative, they work hard, and they make a great product.

WindsorONE is speaking at our Word of Mouth Crash Course in Austin on May 10, and as a preview we wanted to share their fantastic case study from our last word of mouth event.

In this presentation, WindsorONE’s Craig Flynn and Brian Bunt share how they found their best talkers, how they get them sharing, and how one simple technique is saving them $250,000 a year on advertising.

Their big ideas:

1. Focus on your talkers, not your customers
2. Great gear helps talkers start conversations
3. Keep your topics simple
4. Give prospects a reason to call you
5. Not every idea is going to stick, and that’s OK
6. Watch WindsorONE’s case study

1. Focus on your talkers, not your customers

WindsorONE’s customers are builders, but their biggest talkers are the guys at the lumberyard who tell the builders what to buy. Their word of mouth program is focused on these talkers: The ones unloading the trucks, stocking materials, and working hand-in-hand with the builders. They’re not the ones actually buying the material or making the big inventory decisions – they’re the ones on the front lines telling the builders which materials and suppliers to go with.

2. Great gear helps talkers start conversations

WindsorONE started putting funny, branded T-shirts in each pallet they shipped to lumberyards. After the first lucky workers discovered the shirts, word quickly got out and soon everyone wanted one. Not only was it a great thank you to the workers, but it encouraged them to open the next pallet and get the next shirt. This quickly snowballed into more shirts, more WindsorONE recommendations, and more conversations.

3. Keep your topics simple

Along with the shirts, WindsorONE included simple messages their talkers could easily remember and share when recommending them. They emphasized their “Made in the U.S.A.” status and their 30-year warranty (or, as the say it, “protection that would makes the president jealous”). No complications, no messy slogans – just simple stuff that helped the lumberyard crews talk about WindsorONE.

4. Give potential customers a reason to call you

With the success of the T-shirt project, WindsorONE started stamping “Call Kurt, Get a Shirt” and a phone number on the back of their trim boards. Builders started calling in, assuming it was a prank. But instead, Kurt actually answered, got their info, and sent them a shirt and a business card. They then told other builders to call in and get one. The result? They’re having great conversations, they’re getting feedback, and they’re meeting new customers. They used to spend $250,000 a year on ads to get 50 leads a month – but “Call Kurt, Get a Shirt” is sending them 50 leads a week..

5. Not every idea is going to stick, and that’s OK

Word of mouth is about trying a lot of ideas and seeing what works. After the success of “Call Kurt, Get a Shirt,” WindsorONE tried “Call Bunt, Get a Bottle.” The idea was to send builders a can of primer — something they always need. But the message was confusing (a lot of callers thought they were getting a bottle of booze), and it didn’t start a lot of conversations. And for WindsorONE, that’s just fine. They know not every idea is going to stick, so they just keep trying.

6. Watch WindsorONE’s video

Watch Craig Flynn and Brian Bunt’s case study on WindsorONE below. To see more incredible presentations like it live, check out the lineup for our upcoming Word of Mouth Crash Course conference on May 10 in Austin.


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  1. Clive Roach (@jedi_roach)

    An excellent case study, I love it

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