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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Thum, Ph.D., CCXP

B2B Influencer Marketing: They Can Own Your Brand Better Than You

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

If you’re someone who bristles when they hear the term “influencer marketing” and the thought of collaborating with an influencer in your B2B digital marketing and business development work makes you cringe, it may be a time to rethink.

In fact, marketing trends are showing that it’s definitely time for another look.

Almost overnight, COVID-19 pushed most of the business world into a remote, online work life. That means, for many technology and SaaS companies, customers and prospects are online for hours every day dealing with business problems, making decisions, and holding meetings about products, industry trends, and new knowledge.

That reality is not lost on most major brands.

You don’t have to look beyond your e-mail or LinkedIn feed to see it: a deluge of digital content—blogs, whitepapers, thought leadership, videos, and online events everywhere, all seeking to “meet customers where they are” online right now.

Customer experience and digital marketing

We can be honest, right? Some of that digital content is good.

But a lot of it just isn’t.

I recently saw a poll on Twitter asking, “How long is too long for an online webinar?” The poll options were 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour.

I voted 15 minutes.

But if that 15 minutes is nothing more than a long, scripted sales pitch that fails to help the customer solve their business problems (in their opinion, not yours), then even 15 minutes is a wasted experience. Completely forgettable. Completely brand-eroding.

Nobody has time or money to waste on being forgettable in the deluge.

So, how can B2B brands kick it up a notch?

Enter B2B influencer marketing

One idea is to partner with an influencer to develop content and a strategy.

Ursula Ringham, a pioneer in the application of influencer marketing techniques, described what a B2B influencer does in this post. Basically, the right influencer at the right time on the right subject can be a powerful tool for getting the attention of clients and prospects in the B2B space.

Based on the data available right now, dollars spent on influencer marketing can be money well spent.

For example, one poll found that 70% of businesses make $2 or more for every $1 invested and 13% make $20 or more for every dollar invested.

Don’t make the mistake that other marketers are making: the digital space is crowded now – you’ve got to be sure you have the right message, at the right time, and you’ve got to make it stand out from the crowd.

B2B influencer marketing harnesses the power of social media and trust, using endorsements and mentions from people with a loyal social following. As experts within their niche, they’ve earned the confidence of consumers, and their suggestions hold a lot of weight when it comes to piquing interest about a brand.

Nothing is the same, and that includes marketing

Here are three more reasons why a B2B influencer marketing strategy can reap benefits for your brand:

1. Audience and context

Most brands love the engagement and devotion of an influencer’s following and want access to it.

Influencers have put in the time—usually years—developing that online following. They’ve developed an expertise. They know how to communicate a point of view around that expertise that followers can identify with. They stay in tune with business trends. They know the industry vernacular. They contribute to and draw from conversations in their online community. They have context.

Bottom line: Influencers know the conversations that will spark interest with their audience. With the right partnership, a B2B brand can become part of those conversations and grow via the influencer and their online following.

2. Personality and Dimension

We’re still being honest here, right?

Poorly written blogs, jargon-filled webinars read from a script, and click-to-play sales videos disguised as “virtual events” are just boring for customers. They’re sources of digital fatigue, not great experiences.

This is where an influencer can bring a spark of life. Influencers are influential, in part, because they have a track record of knowing how to turn a colorful phrase and connect with online audiences.

Bottom line: Not every B2B influencer can be your hype person, but brands that want to rise out of the deluge and create memorable experiences for customers right now need personality to get noticed.

3. Credibility and Trust

Scholars have shown the connection between human trust and getting stuff done at work. Today, almost 50% of customers are looking for trustworthy sources to help them solve business problems.

Influencers have built that trust with their following and in their respective communities. With the right fit, brands can view that trust as a possible bridge to getting in front of certain audiences.

With so many brands churning out digital content right now, there’s just no room to sink in the digital deluge. Brands have to swim. That means considering the experiences of customers when they encounter your online content.

Influencers cannot generate sales leads for you. That’s not their job. But with the right fit, the right influencer can bring context, personality, and trust to a brand’s digital marketing and business development work. Those are the qualities that can lead to great experiences for customers and prospects.

This post originally appeared on The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience.

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