Whether your business is going through tough times or firing on all cylinders, leveraging a third-party influencer to bolster your credibility and brand can bring increased trustworthiness and attention to your messaging. This is especially true if your company or product is new to the market or you have challenges in obtaining positive customer reviews or references.
From what I’ve seen, influencers can be a powerful asset in the B2B realm. But you need to plan your approach carefully. Here are five of my top tips for using influencers to bolster your B2B marketing campaigns:
1. Find the right fit: Start by researching those who speak or write about your industry -- people who you may encounter frequently at events, in videos or online. Consider their voice. Think about the language they use to convey their thoughts and how this aligns with your brand and the audiences you are trying to reach. For example, high-level, strategic or value-focused voices might be great for influencing executives or decision-makers, while detail-oriented technical or data analysis voices might be well-matched for influencing engineers or financial practitioners. At the same time, there is often space for overlapping interests. An example here would be martech, where someone with a combination of creative expertise and knowledge about the digital application of creative concepts would be your ideal fit as an influencer.
2. Get to know their work: Once you’ve identified a few influencer candidates, invest the time to review their articles, blogs, reports or social media activity and watch them on a webinar, video or live speaking event. Also note the number of participants in those events and the response – are they generating interesting questions, comments and discussion, or putting people to sleep? To gauge trustworthiness and industry impact, measure whether others in your industry -- including your customers and partners -- are sharing or quoting the influencer’s content or following them on social media. If so, the influencer sounds ideal to enlist on your behalf.
3. Start small: Start slowly when approaching your influencer for the first time. One way to initiate the relationship is to bring some data, insights or your unique perspective to them, and ask for their feedback or opinion. Also, don’t initially approach an influencer with a huge ask or commitment to a long campaign, unless you are willing to compensate them for their time. When ready, engage in an open dialogue with them about their standard deliverables, fees, contract parameters, and how they work with businesses like yours.
4. Grow your relationship: Once you’ve established a rapport and you are comfortable with
the way the relationship is growing, seek larger commitments such as an invitation to write a report, provide a testimonial or speak in a webinar or video. Be upfront with how you plan to use their contributions – some may have rules or even personal desires about how their content or image can and can’t be used. Be sure to have this discussion before investing the time to create all your materials. And let your influencer see your finished marketing campaign elements before they are published, emailed or posted in case they have any issues.
5. Be respectful: Once you’ve obtained the green light to market your influencer’s opinion, image or messaging, make sure your prospects and customers see your campaign by leveraging it across all your marketing channels, including email. But don’t overdo it; remember that although your influencer is supporting your company’s message and brand promise, they are a separate entity. In other words, be tactful and respectful when using your influencer, and resist the urge to splash them everywhere for long periods of time. You want to keep your influencer’s perceived outside perspective, and not give the appearance that you’ve turned them into a paid sponsor. If so, your audience may start to tune them out.
The bottom line is this: when it comes to B2B influencers, investing the time to find the right person, including understanding their opinion, voice and followers, and using them in the right way, is key to maximizing the impact on your audience and market.
How have influencers made a difference in your marketing?
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.