Only Connect: B2B influencer marketing — a first primer
by Bradley Elliott (@BradElliottSA) How do you go about creating an effective influencer-marketing campaign for a B2B brand? The first step is to fully appreciate the significant differences between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
Love affair vs arranged marriage
Here’s a great analogy that will set these two disciplines apart, and create instant understanding. Think of B2C marketing as a love affair, and B2B as an arranged marriage.
When you are thinking about buying a new pair of jeans, and Levi’s is the brand that’s captured your heart (some people even have the Levi’s brand tattooed on their body), this is an emotional decision. The trigger is emotional, there’s not a lot of logic that goes into the equation, and the transaction is one of immediate gratification. B2B marketing is all about pragmatism and pedigree. Like an arranged marriage, logic plays a really important part in the decision-making process. Typically, an arranged marriage is orchestrated by grandparents or parents, who make choices based on social standing, education, community position, religion, politics and education.
A B2C transaction is typically a quick purchase that only requires a willing buyer and seller. Boom! Cash in till. Deal done. But B2B sales cycles may be lengthy and complex, and may take months or more to complete. This type of marketing is all about building trust and relationships, because a B2B investment can run into millions of rands. Unlike a pair of Levi’s, B2B products are complex and buyers will diligently evaluate the fit, the leadership and team, the cost, service levels, return on investment and more. If the buy is of high-strategic value to an organisation, and millions are going to be spent, you’d better believe that the sales cycle is going to include a lot of scrutiny, and will involved multiple decision-makers.
The B2B context
So how do you successfully use influencer marketing in B2B contexts? You need to think of influence this way: who has the knowledge, respect or market authority to sway complex decision-making? This kind of influencer could be an analyst, researcher, author, educator, expert or industry heavyweight who’s deeply respected for their credibility and/or wisdom. By aligning with this individual, you garner greater trust for your B2B brand, or may be able to use this person to help open doors, draft educational white pieces together, or conduct research that will educate the market about a key issue.
To determine the right approach for your B2B brand, go back to basics and investigate the resonance between your brand and your influencer’s brand. Then investigate how relevant this influencer is to the target you wish to influence. Take time to craft your marketing goals, and to determine what you want to achieve from using an influencer.
There is a huge range of marketing tactics and content marketing that you may employ, but here’s some wisdom from Bernie Borges, the CEO of B2B consultancy, Find and Convert. In an article headlined B2B Influencer Marketing Done the Right Way, he writes that “B2B influencer marketing isn’t about simply showcasing a product; it’s about building relationships with other businesses in your industry and expanding your network. A good influencer marketing strategy is consistent and encourages engagement and interaction.”
With this nugget firmly tucked into your strategic toolkit, here are some influencer-marketing tactics and content ideas to get you started:
- Podcasts: a great vehicle for co-hosting influencers
- Research: projects that reveal trends or deep insights, and that are conducted with authoritative co-authors, work well for publicity or getting quick market traction
- Brand ambassadors: people who love and use your services or product, and who are trusted and influential, may yield strong brand gains
- Similarly, inviting credible influencers to attend, and report on, brand events and conferences may boost your marketing efforts.
- Only Connect: Influencer marketing — the B2B golden bullet
- Columns | Back2Basics – Mark Eardley
- Columns | Thinking B2B – Warren Moss
The founder of Continuon and Platinum Seed, Bradley Elliott (@BradElliottSA) is a serial entrepreneur who’s created a number of businesses in the digital and technology sectors. He believes that marketing needs to be reinvented so that it becomes more useful to humans and brands. He’s also a collector of fine whiskey. Bradley contributes the monthly column, “Only Connect”, which focuses on influencer marketing, to MarkLives.com.
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