The world of influence has been a game changer for the marketing industry. Hate it or love it, it’s hard to deny it’s impact on consumer purchasing decisions. When it feels authentic, is matched with the correct person of influence, it can positively impact your sales, or at the very least, generate awareness of your product or service.
The influencer strategy in the B2B sector has different nuances; the main one being that the influencer has to be part of that industry’s community to be credible. The 2019 Content Preference Survey from DGR says that 95 percent of respondents favour credible content from industry influencers, which is 30 percent higher year on year. The relationship between B2B influencers and brands should also be more of a long-term partnership than a once-off campaign to really add value over time. It’s not about hawking your products or services, but about creating something in partnership that will engage, inform and inspire your audience. As a business you should also not dictate the message (which is different from explaining the objective), because then that is just advertising. Of improving and managing influencer experiences, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden says “Far too many B2B brands treat their influencer relationships transactionally and in terms of what the brand can get from the influencer. B2B brands that make any effort at all to learn more about influencer goals, preferences and capabilities in combination with providing opportunities to connect with other influencers, will go a long way towards building brand advocates and inspire more effective influencer behaviors.”
Identifying and selecting your B2B influencer
Let’s be clear; B2B influencers are not the often famous for nothing Instagram celebs used to endorse consumer products, flooding our timelines. In fact, the right B2B influencers don’t always have the highest number of followers on social media and some of the best B2B influencers don’t even have social media accounts at all. B2B influencers are seldom known outside of the industry within which they are experts. Is there a well respected thought leader in your space, or perhaps there is a tech product reviewer with a following that your tech business could collaborate with. How about someone that attends all your trade shows, is always making commentary or providing suggestions to your business. You may even look within your company and find a passionate employee with a deep understanding of the product or service that could become your champion. Everyone has a sphere of influence at some level and more brands are going to tap into the niche influence of industry community members, employees and even other customers, because customer case studies are one of the most powerful ways to influence purchasing decisions. Whoever you choose must be a good fit, and your definition of a good fit can change over time. Relationships with influencers should be diverse, you could work with different people to reach different objectives and provide a range of perspectives to your audience wherever they are in their path to purchase.
Building successful influencer relationships is challenging and requires a lot of time. But if you invest the effort to do it right it will be beneficial on many levels for everyone involved.