I’ve been working in the B2B marketing space for nearly six years now – specifically in a small, growing company. While B2B marketing is a challenging and exciting space to be, in my experience, tips and tricks for B2B marketers who want to be cutting-edge, are few and far between.
If you’re not talking about, hearing about, or experiencing first hand the power of influencer marketing in today’s business world, then you really need to get with the program (or download Instagram). B2C marketers have it easy when it comes to implementing a killer influencer strategy, but there is room for B2B players to contribute to their company’s growth strategy in a very real way – it’s just…less obvious.
Over the last six months, my team has been exploring both the things we’re already doing that qualify as influencer marketing opportunities, and what we could be doing differently to be more cutting edge. While we quickly gained alignment on why the vision for influencer partnership was key to our strategy within our business unit, we needed buy-in from the rest of the company. Without support from the front-line people at your organization, a B2B influencer strategy is doomed to fail. As marketers, our job is to polish and propel the company brand into the market, forge important connections with clients, prospects and other key influencers, and craft, design and deliver relevant content to our key audiences – but we can’t do it alone.
If there were ever a time to gain buy-in from our key internal decision-makers, it was at our end-of-year corporate strategy meeting. After lots of prep, thought, and research, we got up in front of the entire organization and made our pitch. I must admit that when I got to the portion of our presentation where I was to explain our influencer strategy, my palms began to sweat. Wireless presenter in-hand, I flipped through the colorful slides explaining the parallels between B2C and B2B influencer marketing approaches and why building collective momentum around this initiative was going to be a key success-driver for our company in 2018.
To my surprise and relief, the approach seemed to intuitively make sense to everyone. Addressing the growth challenge in 2018, whether you’re in marketing or any other part of the organization, cannot be done alone. We live in a world where the pace of digital innovation, and digital conversation for that matter, is hard to keep up with. The more reach you have, and the more trusted partners you can align with, the more success you’re likely to have. After all, influencer marketing at its roots is designed to help the digitally overwhelmed consumer cut through the noise via one powerful tool – trust. If they trust the influencer, they trust you.
Six months in, we’ve had some successes we’re very proud of. Here are some hacks to get you closer to your B2B influencer strategy goals at lightning speed:
- Internal momentum is key – We wouldn’t be nearly where we are today if other folks hadn’t latched on to the idea that this strategy was a difference-maker. Be bold when you’re explaining why it matters to key stakeholders in your organization. After all, you have a pool of influencers within your own organization. The people who are delivering your services or have client relationships need to build their own brand and be savvy influencers before you can bring others in. One very well received approach was designing a marketing-hosted workshop on social media and digital influence. Our first was so popular that we’re already planning our second workshop.
- Join the conversation and be innovative about how you do it. Three to four years ago, social media marketing innovation felt much more optional than it does now – depending on your client market of course. At my organization, social media activity historically felt stagnant and forced, that is until we rallied around why it was important. Not only are we encouraging the thought leaders at our company to be more active at developing their personal brands, but we’ve also had great success starting a topical LinkedIn discussion group where leaders across all industries can network, discuss best practices, and of course learn about the latest and greatest thought leadership. By building a group and creating a network of professionals sharing the same interest, we’re fostering an environment of trust, influence, and expertise for our clients and prospects alike.
- Seek out unusual partnerships – Another success in our influencer marketing journey is that we’ve also started a podcast series where we’re interviewing executives across multiple industries about business topics where we share a common interest. It’s great for their brand, helpful to our customers, and builds our credibility in the market. The beauty of influencer marketing is that, when done correctly, it makes your content seem more informative and valuable and less promotional. Linking your expertise to another brand or individual who is successful in his or her space is a great approach. You’ll tap into brand new audiences when you think outside the box with your partnership requests.