The wealth of new channels and platforms now at their disposal means there are myriad opportunities for B2B marketers to reach target audiences.
The downside of this, is it is becoming ever-harder to zero in on the most important decision-makers and budget-holders using broad-based marketing campaigns.
This is where influencer marketing really comes into its own. By tapping into people who already have the ear of your core audience, and whose ideas and opinions are respected and trusted by them, B2Bs can open up an invaluable new channel of communication with even the hardest-to-reach decision-maker.
Here I expand on some key principles recently highlighted by the B2B News Network, which I hope will provide you with a useful starting point for approaching influencer marketing:
1. Know your audience
Don’t put the cart before the horse. It’s no good identifying a great influencer if they don’t have the trust, and command the attention of, the particular audience you are trying to influence. For example, do you wish to shape the behaviour of prospective clients, or those already using your product/service? Do you want to reach operational decision-makers or is does the C-Suite hold the key? According to recent research, more than 80% of non-C-suite individuals in a B2B business have a say in purchase decisions, and almost a quarter of them have final sign-off power.
Different groups of people will be influenced in very different ways and by different people so establishing your target audience is an essential first step.
2. It’s not a popularity contest
When you know exactly who you’re trying to influence, you’ll be able to identify which will be the best influencers for the job. Track down people in your industry who speak regularly at conferences, or who have an engaged audience of followers on social media. Use tools like Onalytica Traackr Klear Leadtail Little Bird and Apollo Target (full disclosure – the latter is an XFC client) to identify niche influencers that may not be on the radar of your competitors. Remember that having a high number of follower doesn’t always equate to a highly-engaged audience, nor does it mean that their audiences necessarily overlap with the one you’re trying to reach; make sure you find trusted individuals who interact with your audience on a regular basis.
3. Build relationships slowly and methodically
Developing relationships with online influencers is much like any other kind of networking – don’t push too hard and don’t expect immediate results. Follow and interact with them on social media, sharing their content and showing a genuine interest in their work and life. And just because you follow them on Twitter don’t expect them to reciprocate right away. More often than not it will take months of careful listening, sharing and interaction before you start to become a trusted connection and your own content starts appearing more and more on their radar. But once you get to that point, your patience and hard work will be repaid many times over, as these trusted influencers can greatly enhance your exposure and credibility with buying audiences.
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