Nearly every marketer is familiar with B2C influencer marketing, such as it is. Celebrities promoting iPhones, various alcohols and even “probiotic” yogurt. You like the celebrity, so you’re supposed to like the product.
But does associating a brand or product with a popular individual really work for B2B marketing? …really? Well, in a sense, yes, as TopRank Marketing has been proving for quite awhile now with companies like LinkedIn, Dell, SAP, and many more. B2B influencer marketing represents a huge opportunity for companies of all sizes to expand their reach and generate better ROI from their content. However, activating influencers to advance B2B marketing and business goals doesn’t work exactly the same as with B2C.
Instead, effective B2B marketing that includes working with influencers is all about connecting your brand with subject matter experts who have built a devoted following by really knowing their stuff. B2B influence is less about popularity and more about relevance – but both are still important. Working with industry experts raises a B2B brand’s profile and makes the most of an online presence in multiple ways.
Here are a few of the ways B2B brands are benefitting from B2B influencer marketing and how you can too:
Finding and sharing highly-qualified audiences
All influencers bring followers with them – that’s a big part of why they’re valuable in the first place. It’s also why B2B influencers can be particularly valuable, especially if you team up with the right one for your business.
B2B influencer followers can represent highly-qualified and, often, highly-motivated prospective customers. These potential buyers follow the influencer because they have an active, ongoing interest in the subject matter that the influencer covers. They want to stay up to date and involved in the conversation.
Not only will you reach new audience segments who may not have known about you before, but those audience members will be perfectly suited to understanding the unique value proposition of your organization relative to your industry. And you’ll have impressed them by demonstrating you’re in the know, just like they are. Which brings us to another huge benefit to B2B influencer content:
Demonstrating social proof
The proliferation of information broadly available on the internet has changed the way B2B marketing works forever. Simply put: about 75% of B2B deals are made… before the company’s sales team ever gets involved.
How is that possible? Because of content. These days, B2B buyers devote a lot of time to researching a company before you even reach out. They’re scrutinizing every element of your website, buyer reviews, and LinkedIn profiles. They’re reading your case studies, researching your former clients and competition, and looking up your employees. All this before they even respond to your email one way or another!
And, while some particularly meticulous researchers may be loath to admit it, a great deal of this research is socially-based. To borrow the old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” B2B buyers want social proof that you are who you say you are – and they want to get it from someone other than your own marketers or salespeople.
Influencers are one of the best ways to give that proof to them. When an influencer works with you, they’re staking their reputation on you. Working with a highly-respected and renowned influencer shows that, at least according to them, you’re the real deal. And if your buyers follow and respect the influencer, that means they’ll respect you, too.
Nothing stays still for long in the B2B world. Everyone’s making moves – acquiring other businesses, developing new products and services, coming up with new innovations – and everyone’s always looking for what’s next. To take advantage of this dynamic environment, it’s essential that your marketing taps into what’s next.
B2B Influencers do this almost inherently. After all, they didn’t pick up their following by repeating the same old spiel over and over again. They’re tuned into what’s happening in the areas of their interest and constantly finding a way to stay at the forefront of it, offering interesting insights and takes on the latest goings ons. Their audience follows them because they’re hungry for the insider scoop on whatever’s about to happen.
If your B2B brand can provide that scoop with the help of one of the influencers your industry knows and respects, you won’t just have a highly-relevant and effective piece of content on your hands; you’ll be more relevant than the competition.
No matter what industry you’re in, make no mistake: connecting with today’s buyers is about moving fast, and there’s always news to be found. With the help of the right influencer, you can be that news.
Fostering lasting relationships
Achieving marketing ROI takes place on a longer timeline in B2B than when selling consumer products. In most cases, B2B buyers aren’t one-time-only… at least, hopefully. Instead, they’re long-term clients you may enjoy a working relationship with for years. You want these clients to look to you as a trusted service provider and subject matter expert.
Influencer content can help facilitate those long term customer relationships. By partnering with the movers-and-shakers of your industry to cover the hot topics of today, you’re not just extending your reach or enticing highly-qualified new prospects. You’re also showing existing (and former) clients that you’re relevant and leading the competition.
Each new piece of influencer content can put your B2B brand back at the forefront of your industry’s combination. The long term, ongoing content collaboration relationships B2B brands develop with relevant and popular influencers can in turn, help create long term relationships with customers.
New and old clients alike often see influencer content as proof that you’re still looking out for them. You’re still hungry, still engaged, and still actively working on finding new innovations and delivering better client experiences.
At TopRank Marketing we’ve seen this situation happen time and time again: a B2B brand loses a customer. Months pass, or maybe years. But the lost customer still follows the B2B brand on LinkedIn while the brand’s sales team considers the opportunity dead in the water. Then, the B2B brand collaborates with an industry influencer to publish new content: a video, an interview, a podcast. Someone from the lost customer company reacts to the influencer content and InMails their former contact at the B2B brand. The relationship rekindles, and the B2B brand is back in.
If you are interested in more in-depth insights, case studies, best practices and predictions for the future of B2B influencer marketing,sign up for early access to the 2022 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report. Or if you want to put our 10 years of B2B influencer marketing experience to work for your B2B brand, let’s talk.