Influencer marketing is all the rage, and for good reason. By 2020, marketers are expected to spend $10 million on influencers.
Influencer marketing is not strictly for B2C companies, either. B2B brands can also get in on the action. Here’s what you need to know to make your B2B influencer campaign a success.
1. You Already Use Influencer Marketing
Does your business offer a referral bonus for existing customers? Do you encourage your clients to talk about their product experiences on social media?
Word of mouth can be its own form of influencer marketing. The next step is to start looking for bigger and better opportunities to use influencers to your advantage. For example, perhaps you can identify some key customer fans to co-author an article or participate in a webinar.
2. Relevance Is More Important Than Reach
Instagram and YouTube stars can make videos and recommend dozens of different products to their 10 million followers over and over. Since the goal is to use their personalities to back a product, they can endorse as many items as they want.
With B2B, however, your influencers need to be established experts in their fields. Just because someone knows something about software doesn’t mean they can successfully talk about your program. Ideally, you’ll want to partner with someone who is already recognized as an industry expert.
For example, the 68 influencers who attended Adobe Summit–The Digital Experience conference, last week in Las Vegas, drove 25% of mentions and 20% of social engagements around the event.
3. This Is Just One Piece Of Your Customer's Journey
All customers conduct online research, but for B2B customers, the amount of research that goes into any purchase often requires extensive homework. Companies making purchases at the executive level can spend a princely sum; sometimes their entire budget allotment will go to one item. So they need to be sure they’re getting exactly what they need.
While an Instagram makeup artist may sell a few hundred makeup palettes with one video, B2B customers have a longer journey, seeking reviews and thought leadership to support a decision. Management consultancy Deloitte, for example, dedicates a portion of its website to Deloitte Insights, where it offers a wealth of information on a host of industries and topics. Appealing to diverse learning styles and interests, the site includes webcasts, a magazine, infographics, articles, podcasts, tool kits, videos, and even courses.
4. Starting Small Works Best
Building relationships with thought leaders in your industry will be time-consuming. After all, their professional reputation is tied up with the products they endorse and discuss. They don’t want to commit to an item that is going to disappear or fall apart in six months; they want their endorsements to be reciprocal and contribute to their industry leadership.
It’s good to start slowly. Featuring thought leaders in blog posts and promoting the posts takes little time for influencers and sparks relationships. If the influencers receive referrals from your posts, they will appreciate your reach and will often want to continue the relationship.
5. Spend Time Educating Your Influencers
Even when working with subject-matter experts, B2B companies still need to educate their influencers on a deep level about how your company works, what it does, where it is positioned in the market, and products/services at hand.
B2B companies may think that influencer marketing isn’t for them, but in reality they already use influencer marketing every day. The goal is to build on whatever success they already have. By deliberately creating a program that locates potential influencers, builds relationships with them, and capitalizes on the benefits of those relationships, B2B companies have the potential to create a new level of sales and loyalty for their products.