Last week I talked about where B2B Marketers are seeing the most impact from influencer marketing efforts based on the research done with hundreds of marketers for the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report. Three of those specific areas where influence can help B2B brands optimize for greater marketing impact include brand, growing the influence of key executives and driving leads / sales.
While just about everyone in B2B Marketing is aware of how working with influencers can add relevance, reach and engagement to content, not everyone makes the connection between their particular business problem and the influence solution. Here are three examples from many that can help you connect the dots.
Build Credible Awareness of Your Brand with Customers
Business Problem: The industry is not aware of your brand, solution or your category.
This is a situation many start-ups, new products or services, re-brands and challenger brands experience in the industry. These awareness issues are also especially present in situations where the target audience is not aware of the problem your company solves. Whether your company or solution is new, your business is in a crowded marketplace or your market isn’t aware of the problem you solve in the first place, credible awareness is essential for getting on the radar and even considered for modern B2B buyers.
B2B Influence Solution: Engage top category influencers to drive conversations about the need for solutions like yours.
There are multiple centers of influence for every business professional including industry publications, professional relationships with peers, industry experts, or special interest groups and associations. Building credible awareness of your solution and/or brand can be expedited in an authentic way by identifying trusted voices in your industry on the topic and finding ways to partner with them.
The outputs of those activations can include any format that matters to your customers from text (white papers, reports, blog posts, articles) to audio (podcasts, social audio), to video (recorded episodes of an ongoing “show”, livestream video, webinars, virtual events).
B2B Marketing Impact: With more credible awareness of the need for your type of solution and your brand, the warmer the market will be to your solutions. While the description of this impact is simple, execution and achievement of it is not.
Grow Thought Leadership of Your People and Brand
Business Problem: Customers value thought leadership from the brands they buy from but do not see your brand as a thought leader.
Even if buyers are aware of your brand and solution, they may not consider it seriously if you are not demonstrating leadership in the strategic direction of the category. Buyers want to know they are working with the best, not just today, but in the future. Thought Leadership for a brand means an active demonstration of strategy that is validated by credible third parties.
B2B Influence Solution: Identify and engage industry experts that already actively publish and promote thought leadership content in your category and partner with them. Find common ground and goals and use content like a research project or a visionary content asset to attract their participation.
B2B Marketing Impact: What better way to become a thought leader than to partner with industry experts that are already thought leaders in your industry? Trusted experts that co-create strategic content with brands builds the authority of those they partner with by association. Influencers can also provide the third party validation of brand thought leadership as they cross publish collaborated content on their own websites, in industry publications, newsletters and in presentations. Customers that see the resulting collaborative thought leadership content will see the brand as a thought leader as well.
Optimize E.A.T. of B2B Content with Influencers
Business Problem: Your content is well optimized and even ranks well but does not get great click through or engagement from organic search.
B2B Influence Solution: What good is ranking well in search if customers do not trust what they find? Google has articulated through their Quality Rater Guidelines, the value of E.A.T. (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) when it comes to content that deserves to be the best answer in search results.
B2B brands can optimize the E.A.T. of their content that is already optimized for search by building expertise, authority and trust by collaborating with industry influencers for target topics/keywords. Experts that publish well-read industry articles, research, and useful content on the topics that the brand is trying to be the best answer for, can be quoted, provide guest posts, or may even decide on their own to cite and link to your brand from their channels.
B2B Marketing Impact: Optimizing content with keywords as well as industry expert quotes and contributions can give brand content the kinds of signals that E.A.T. guidelines are used for to identify content that should have the best ranking in search engines. Content that is more trustworthy can rank better and also inspire more clickthroughs.
Once you make the important connection between a key business problem and where working with influencers can help optimize your efforts, what process can you follow to ensure the best results? From a content marketing perspective, there is a basic architecture for influencers and B2B content collaboration that has delivered efficient and effective marketing performance again and again.
This B2B influencer content checklist is something we’ve covered here extensively and that I’ve presented on numerous times at B2B marketing industry conferences and workshops. The exact implementation of a campaign asset like this really depends on specific goals and the organization of the effort. Of course, content marketing campaigns that involve influencers on their own are not nearly as effective as an Always-On Influencer Marketing program that combines influencer relationship building with content activations.
If you need help connecting the dots between your business and marketing problem and where B2B influencer engagement (especially in the technology space) makes the most sense, be sure to reach out. We have nearly 10 years of B2B influencer marketing experience at TopRank Marketing and have a huge library of insights and experience to leverage for just about any B2B marketing situation.