Influencer marketing has made a huge impact on a lot of B2C businesses. But B2B businesses shouldn’t feel left out. The strategy has a lot of applications for businesses that offer products or services to other businesses as well, though it might look a bit different.
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing, a B2B marketing agency that offers influencer marketing services. Odden will also be offering his expertise at the upcoming Influencer Marketing Days event in New York City. His keynote speech is scheduled for Tuesday, September 26 at 10 a.m.
B2B Influencer Marketing Tips
Odden shared some tips and insights for B2B businesses in a recent phone interview with Small Business Trends. Here are some key takeaways about B2B influencer marketing for small businesses.
Don’t Treat it Like B2C Influencer Marketing
When you think of influencer marketing, you probably picture popular YouTube personalities working with beauty brands or other consumer focused brands working with celebrities. But B2B influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily look like that. The general concept is the same. But the influencers, the type of content and the rest of the process can differ quite a bit.
Odden told Small Business Trends, “The difference between B2B and B2C influencer marketing is the difference in marketing to a consumer buying an impulse product and someone paying a million dollars for software. The sales cycle is different. And content is a part of both, but when you go from a 6 to 18 month sales cycle there’s a lot more opportunity for content consumption.”
Determine Who Your Influencers Are
Before you actually get started with B2B influencer marketing campaigns, you need to figure out who the popular influencers in your industry actually are. Odden says that when working with B2B brands on influencer campaigns, this is one of the first topics he usually addresses. And often, brands don’t have a great handle on who the main influencers are or what they want to accomplish.
To identify some influencers you want to work with, you can simply talk to your customers and people in your industry. You can use social media, especially Twitter search, to find people talking about your specific products or service areas. Or you can invest in tools like BuzzSumo to find specific individuals for upcoming campaigns.
Choose Specific Topics of Influence
You also need to be very specific about the topics where your influencers actually hold influence. If you have a software company, for instance, don’t just identify general tech influencers. Think about the product you want to promote and find the people who have influence on that particular topic and with the decision makers who are likely to actually purchase such a product. For instance, if you’re releasing a new bookkeeping software, focus your efforts on individuals who have influence with finance managers.
Create a Plan for Content
Then of course you need an idea of what form the content you create will take. There are so many options for this. You can opt for written content, video content, infographics or some kind of interactive content.
Odden says, “If you can co-create or collaborate on a topic with relevant influencers, the outcome is some form of content they’ve formed or you’ve formed together. And they can then promote that to their audience. And if it’s really cool then they’re going to be proud and inspired to promote that content.”
Offer Something Noteworthy
There’s nothing wrong with creating content that fits into a popular format. But you can potentially create even more buzz for your influencer campaign by making something that’s really different.
As an example, Odden pointed to an interactive ebook created by software corporation SAP. The ebook features a really unique interactive format that sets it apart from the standard ebook. For that reason, the company enjoyed a 100 percent share rate among the influencers that participated. Many even shared it more than once, leading to more than 18 million impressions on the content.
Prioritize Long-Term Relationships
When working with influencers, you can create situations that benefit both sides. Of course, your business should benefit by receiving that content and social proof that comes with a third party sharing positives about your brand. But your influencers should also benefit in some way, either through financial compensation or through valuable exposure and opportunities. By creating opportunities that are beneficial to both sides, you should be able to foster relationships that last beyond the initial collaboration.
Start Small If Necessary
Breaking into the world of B2B influencer marketing doesn’t need to be costly. Of course, you can spend huge amounts of money on securing big names for lengthy campaigns. But you don’t have to go that extreme if you don’t have the budget. Instead, Odden suggests simply building influencer marketing into your content and community budget.
To do this, you can integrate microcontent from influencers into your campaigns. This might be something like gathering tips from your social media community to compile into an ebook or interviewing some brand advocates for a video compilation.
From there, you can potentially continue to work with influencers on larger and larger projects where they might put in more effort and you have to dedicate a higher budget. But if you start small, you can develop a system that works for your business and learn some valuable lessons in the process.
Get the Tools You Need to Scale
Odden also added, “You can’t scale without software.” So while it’s definitely possible to start out small by simply incorporating some influencers into your existing content strategy, you’ll need to get more serious with your strategy if you hope to keep it going. As you work with a larger number of influencers and dedicate a larger portion of your marketing budget to the strategy, you’ll need software tools to help you track and organize your campaigns.[“Source-smallbiztrends”]