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#DearB2B: I’m interested in starting an influencer marketing programme. What are the first steps?

TopRank Marketing CEO and Ignite 2017 speaker Lee Odden says the potential for increased conversion rates makes influencer marketing a no-brainer 

Lee Odden influencer marketing TopRank Marketing

Q: #DearB2B: I’m interested in starting an influencer marketing programme. What should I be thinking about? What are the first steps?

A: Influencer marketing has attracted a lot of enthusiasm and for good reason. Benefits that include a nearly 10:1 return in earned media value, increased conversion and customer retention rates have many marketers asking the same question: where to start?

As with most marketing adventures, 'how' is not nearly as important as 'why'. I'd stress that it’s essential to have some idea of what influencer marketing can do for your business right along with what your business can do for the influencers that you will be working with.

In our influencer marketing practice, we take a content-centric approach to working with influencers and as a result, our definition reflects that: “Influencer marketing activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals.”

With a content-centric approach to working with influencers, companies can tap into influencer expertise to add more credibility to their content as well as exposure with difficult to reach audiences. Working with a group of influencers to co-create content, a brand could increase the amount of content produced, boost reach to new audiences and develop valuable relationships - all at the same time. 

For your first influencer marketing programme, here are a few steps to consider:

  1. Decide the topic you want to be influential about. Make sure that topic matters to your customers as much as it matters to your brand.
  2. Find the right tools. Do some research on influencer marketing tools to help you better identify, qualify and recruit the right influencers.
  3. Romance prospective influencers by following them on social, commenting on their posts and including them in your content. Make a distinction between professional influencers, aka 'brandividuals' who mostly want exposure or compensation, and niche influencers who care less about recognition than the greater good. Your approach should be specific to each.
  4. Make a relevant offer to collaborate or co-create content in a way that provides value to the influencer. Content that creates great exposure for an influencer can be more motivating than modest compensation. Of course, do this in a way that also creates value for your brand’s content marketing programme.
  5. Make it easy to contribute and even easier to share the resulting content that's created. Brands that empathise with influencers smooth the speed bumps that often get in the way of frictionless collaboration and promotion. The investment in creation is often an inspiration to share the resulting content, but if you make sharing easy by providing text and media resources, your influencer content will reach even more potential customers.

Influencer marketing can be treated like advertising by using networks found in influencer marketplaces. However, when influencer marketing is relationship based, brands create a direct connection with influencers based on shared values and a genuine interest in mutual success. With this distinction in mind and the tips above, think about your short and long-term goals as well as your 'why' going into the planning for your first influencer marketing programme.

Join the conversation on LinkedIn or @MarketingB2B on Twitter with #DearB2B. You can also email to get help with your toughest B2B marketing challenges.

Harnessing the power of influencer marketing in B2B​

Influencer marketing is no longer the preserve of consumer brands. An increasing number of B2B companies are embracing the power of influencers, enabling them to reach new audiences and increase the authority and awareness of their brand. This step-by-step guide will help all B2B marketers understand what influencer marketing is, what it can do, and how to put together an influencer marketing programme that delivers results.

Step-by-step influencer guide

Harnessing the power of influencer marketing in B2B​