B2B influencer marketing: 5 tips on how to work it, and improve your market share
Influencer marketing is not new. It is a relatively subtle but powerful form of marketing, and it is because of this apparent subtlety that many client-side B2B marketers dismiss it as probably ineffective. And that's a serious misconception.
Who doesn't want a select group of individuals including respected industry leaders, senior consultants, high-profile journalists, bloggers and industry analysts - people who influence your buyers’ decisions - to talk about and advocate their enterprise, products and services?
What does Influencer marketing look like?
As the title implies, Influencers are people who are high-profile experts and well respected in your industry and again, by definition are trusted in their opinions relating to your type of product or associated services.
Your potential customers will see them as beacons of wisdom in your sector and will likely follow their opinions.
By forming relationships with these high-profile Influencers and developing a situation where individuals will contribute content to your website, blog or other customer-facing communications, you have created a state where well known and respected industry advocates are promoting your enterprise, its products and services.
What will Influencer marketing deliver to my enterprise?
If you have chosen the right kind of high profile industry experts, developed the right kind of relationship with them and given them access to the interesting and useful product and service information they need to write industry sector content about these topics, then you have set the pathway.
And that means they will contribute industry-expert content about you and for you to publish on your website or, because this relationship is mutually beneficial, the information you have given them will form content in their own channels, such as their own website, blog or journals.
So, it is a perfect two-way street: you get industry-expert advocacy and they get industry insight and intelligence from you to create their own far-reaching content.
How do you develop relationships with Influencers?
Well, generally speaking these people aren't listed under "I" in the phone book. Influencers are people who are well-known and respected within your industry sector and may be prominent industry consultants, engineers, journalists and bloggers or analysts.
Whatever else they are, they do need to be high-profile and respected enough to have a strong following and the respect of those you wish to communicate with and influence. Here are five points to consider when planning this route.
01. Indentifying marketplace expertise
Start by working out which prominent industry leaders, senior consultants, high-profile journalists, bloggers and industry analysts your potential customers will listen to, and therefore will be influenced by, and which of those Influencers you wish to target.
As a part of this process, talk to your sales teams and if possible your buyers themselves. Industry experts - AKA Influencers - will be present on LinkedIn and other social media. There are also various digital tools you can use to find them, or by entering key phrases into search can return these key individuals, too.
02. Prioritising Influencers
Once you have identified the Influencers you wish to collaborate with, draw up a list and prioritise them by who you think will have the most impact in your marketplace.
What you will find is some won't be interested in you, and others when scrutinised closely will no longer be of interest to you.
When you have established your target list you need to build a relationship with those Influencers. The easiest way to do this is to engage with them by establishing occasional contact through commenting on their blog posts or connecting with them on social media such as LinkedIn.
03. Developing the relationship
Through this informal approach, you reach the point where you feel you can send them a personal email, making them aware you have been following them for a while by whatever means, and that you would like to introduce yourself and your enterprise.
You will need to work on this introductory email to ensure that it has impact, tells them what they want to hear and what is in it for them in any kind of collaboration with you, and your enterprise.
What's in it for them should exclude money because you will have to declare this, and your enterprises' credibility will evaporate when you do.
04. Making Influencer collaboration easy
If your choice of Influencers were good ones, you will have selected a group of very busy people, because to be a high-profile expert in any market requires a lot of work in terms of market research and communication, before you ever get to the self-promotion required to stay on top.
That means the quickest way to work with them in order to get what you need and to ensure these time-poor individuals remain attracted to the collaborative relationship is to offer possible sector topics, then draft outline material for their review and for them to shape and edit for you.
05. Keep the relationship fresh
Communication and feedback are key. So remember, when you post content contributed by your Influencer partner, be sure to thank them for their work and suggest to them that they share the content with their own audience. This will spread it way further than you can do alone.
Letting your new friend know how their content performed and what comments it received not only helps build the collaborative relationship but also helps Influencers gauge valuable market reaction which may point to other content opportunities as they evolve.
Influencer marketing has three very effective benefits to a B2B enterprise: it means your target audience hears about your enterprise from high-profile and trusted industry sources; your enterprise is seen to be aligned with industry thought-leaders, and the exposure is continuous, because as long as people are reading, they're reading about you.