How can B2B marketers build powerful and enduring collaborations using influencers?
There are more tactics available today than ever for influencer collaboration in the B2B space, but how can marketers find those that are actually achieving ongoing success?
We’ve been fortunate to feature top influencers from a number of industries in our third season of the Break Free B2B Marketing series of video interviews, and we wanted to share their top tactics for both being an influencer in the B2B space, and for improving collaboration.
Let’s dig in and learn how 12 subject matter experts are creating powerful collaborations between influencers and brands, with insightful tactics you can implement in your own marketing efforts as we head toward 2022.
Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media
Founder, Smart Hustle Media
“Always look for partnerships, at how you can work with others, and at how you can think bigger and more strategically.” — Ramon Ray @ramonray #BreakFreeB2B Click To Tweet
“I think there are different ways that brands do different things. One thing talking to the brand at least, I think, and the influencers, is that — first, are you clear on what the goals are? Why do they want you? Is it reaching numbers? It could be. For me, it’s oftentimes that they want safety and security. We want someone who can consistently deliver and give us a good seminar, webinar, or host a product and be excited and draw the expertise out of our subject matter experts. So that’s one,” Ramon noted.
“Second — are you living your brand, offline and online? Meaning can they trust that what you tweet — what you post on Instagram, is going to be something that’s going to make them proud. That’s okay for the brands you’re working with. So that’s two. And I think point three, I think the other thing to consider is, are you within the wheelhouse of what they want? If you’re an influencer for a headphone company, and you’re not all about music, you may not be a fit,” Ramon added.
“I think those are a few things that I think about when we look at how we’re working with a brand, and how a brand may evaluate us — it’s safety, security, we try to do the right thing, and be good to work with. And I think that’s important,” Ramon also shared.
Watch, listen to or read Ramon’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media on Small Business Success & Thinking Big.”
Minda Harts of The Memo
CEO and Founder, The Memo
“Whether you have 300 followers or 300,000, it's the way that you engage, and people have to trust you.” — Minda Harts @MindaHarts Click To Tweet
What what does it take to be a thought leader, subject matter expert or an influencer?
“You know, I would say consistency. One of the things that I started before I had a best-selling book, or any of those things — I was consistent with the content that I put out there,” Minda said.
“I picked one or two social media platforms, and I said, you know what, I’m going to give my all to these. My demographic is not on everything, right? So if I pick a couple, and I’m consistent, and every Monday I start with a newsletter, because you want to capture your fans or your potential clients. So I think that for me, it was being consistent,” Minda added.
“Since 2015, every Monday I put out a newsletter. And then I repurpose that content on LinkedIn or Twitter — those are the most active platforms I’m on. I also try to be authentic to my voice, and talk about the things that I know my demographics are interested in. I bring my personal stories, and I asked them questions,” Minda shared.
“Whether you have 300 followers or 300,000, it’s the way that you engage, and people have to trust you. Once you build that consistency and that trust, then all you need is those people who will constantly repurpose and retweet, and do some of those things. But it starts with that consistency. So make sure that you’re being true and authentic to the voice that you add to your community,” Minda explained.
Check out Minda’s full interview and visit our full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations.”
Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor
Co-Founder, The CTO Advisory
“You have to put your thoughts out there. And sometimes putting your thoughts out there is the scariest part about becoming an influencer.” — Keith Townsend @CTOAdvisor Click To Tweet
“I’m fine with calling it being a influencer, a thought leader, or whatever you want to call it. You have to put your thoughts out there. And sometimes putting your thoughts out there is the scariest part about becoming an influencer — but let’s just call it being known within your industry,” Keith shared.
“Becoming an independent influencer is a little more difficult, because there’s not quite an established marketplace for the things that I do. So is going to the likes of TopRank Marketing or working directly with vendors to find out how do I help a vendor tell us their story, while keeping my authentic voice,” Keith added.
“To stand out, don’t avoid those difficult conversations,” he also noted.
Watch Keith’s full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction”
Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall
Founder, Sociaall Inc.
“If you're a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don't try to be a phone company.” — Dez Blanchfield @dez_blanchfield Click To Tweet
“When we have a conversation, we don’t just talk about influencer marketing. That’s a tiny segment of what we do. It’s taking an idea from a business plan and sales and marketing strategy in a go-to-market roadmap, around sales, marketing, comms, and business development, and mapping, ‘what’s the outcome you want?’,” Dez shared.
“What have you started to do sales investing in? Where are the gaps in that? How can we fill those gaps of digital social conversations, and how can we create these campaigns to drive those outcomes such that if and when someone has a pain point or a buying decision, we have ensured — through driving awareness, education engagement, in the form of influence — that you are top of mind and center of heart at that point of a buying decision,” Dez added.
Watch, listen to or read Dez’ complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation.”
Tamara McCleary of Thulium
“Be clear about why you want to work with an influencer, what you hope to get out of working with the influencer.” — @TamaraMcCleary Click To Tweet
“What is your purpose in using an influencer? Is your purpose to create brand awareness? Is your purpose to increase product sales? What is your purpose? Then, let’s reverse engineer from that and go, ‘Okay, who has the eyes and ears of the folks that are most interested in your product or service?’,” Tamara shared.
“Once we start calling people followers, or an audience, we start diminishing them — thinking somehow they don’t have any thought leadership. But the point of the matter is every single person has thought leadership, it’s just whether or not they’re building it by putting content out there,” Tamara added.
“Be clear about why you want to work with an influencer, what you hope to get out of working with the influencer,” Tamara suggested.
“If you don’t work with an organization that knows what they’re doing, that knows how to harness what that end result should be, knows what the influencer should be delivering to the organization, knows what the organization shouldn’t be asking the influencer, having a company like like TopRank to do that is important, because when I see organizations try to do influencer marketing themselves, it often fails. And then the big bummer for that is when it fails, they think influencer marketing fails. Influencer marketing hasn’t failed. It’s just the way you did it failed. You didn’t do it right,” Tamara observed.
Watch Tamara’s full episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm.”
Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews
Publisher, SAHM Reviews
“Do your thing, do what you're good at. You want to start a business because you want to fill a niche. You have to be doing it because you're passionate about it.” — Nicole Brady @SahmReviews Click To Tweet
What makes influencer content powerful?
“Because it’s real. It’s someone that is sharing their opinions. It’s not scripted. It’s not a commercial,” Nicole explained.
“Do your thing, do what you’re good at. You want to start a business because you want to fill a niche. You have to be doing it because you’re passionate about it,” Nicole added.
“Find out what makes you different and what makes people want to talk to you, and then leverage it. Share those details, and create content around those details. As more and more people are on social media, being able to find those out-of-the-box environmental things that make you tick — that you might not have known — showing them off, that’s the way to do it.”
Watch, listen to or read Nicole’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche.”
Eric Vanderburg of TCDI
Vice President of Cybersecurity, TCDI
“Sometimes the influencer stuff can get almost like a back door sponsored content kind of thing, or an endorsement, and that's something that we definitely try to avoid. Make sure the brand shares the values that you have.” — @evanderburg Click To Tweet
“Meeting other influencers in the space and learning how we all could better support one another, and how they were getting their messages out,” has been a helpful approach, Eric noted.
“I’ve always seen this as bigger than any individual, so a lot of these collaborative works have been great,” Eric added.
“Sometimes the influencer stuff can get almost like a back door sponsored content kind of thing, or an endorsement, and that’s something that we definitely try to avoid. Make sure the brand shares the values that you have,” Eric also suggested.
Explore all of Eric’s episode in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape.”
Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz
“Collaboration is the future of business. I think the only way forward is to really be able to understand what your colleagues in marketing, customer service, or procurement are going through on a day-to-day basis.” @bevictoryus Click To Tweet
“There’s a lot of collaboration that can happen with supply chain internally, and a lot of different companies. I think we’re seeing more and more of that, which is exciting, especially for supply chain professionals, because they really want to work. They’re problem solvers, right? That’s who we are, as professionals — we are problem solvers. That’s what we do on a day-to-day basis,” Sarah shared.
“We want to collaborate with the different departments internally, to really create that success for the company that that we’re working for,” Sarah added.
“Collaboration is the future of business. I truly believe that. I think the only way forward is to really be able to understand what your colleagues in marketing, customer service, or procurement are going through, and what they do on a day-to-day basis,” Sarah also noted.
Watch, listen to or read Sarah’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change.”
Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor
Co-Founder, Time Doctor
“You really have to figure out a lane that you're passionate about. Get super laser-focused on something.” — Liam McIvor Martin @liamremote Click To Tweet
“If you’re like — man — I want to be the TikTok influencer. I want to learn how to get people ranked on TikTok — do you like TikTok? I kind of do, but not enough to be able to spend the next five years of my life talking about TikTok. You really have to figure out a lane that you’re passionate about,” Liam urged.
“Get super laser-focused on something,” Liam added.
Watch Liam’s full interview, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work.”
Oliver Christie of PertexaHealthTech
Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, PertexaHealthTech
“I think the main way I've got to be where I am today is curiosity. I've been curious about the world, curious about technology — I'm really curious about people and how they act.” — Oliver Christie @OliverChristie Click To Tweet
“I was curious. I wanted to know more. So I talked to a lot of people — people who had deep knowledge in one area, and I kept talking and I kept asking questions and discovering more and more and more. I think the main way I’ve got to be where I am today is curiosity. I’ve been curious about the world, curious about technology — I’m really curious about people and how they act,” Oliver explained.
“I’ve got to like what the project is about, what it’s trying to do. And I’ve also got to believe in the technology or the approach. I think without that, you’re selling something. You’re just selling something which you don’t believe in. And that’s not a reason to work,” Oliver added.
Tune in to Oliver’s complete episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI.”
Tim Crawford of AVOA
CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA
“Decisions are not made based on a tweet, blog post, or webinar. Decisions are made based off of trust over an extended period of time. Knowing who you're working with and having trust in that individual is incredibly important.” @tcrawford Click To Tweet
“It’s shocking how the B2C definition of influencer kind of muddies the water of a B2B influencer, which is why I think we don’t use that term all that much in B2B, because we’re more focused on subject matter expert, thought leader, and authentic thinkers,” Tim explained.
“I have also had to explain the difference between a B2C influencer and a B2B influencer. And sometimes that’s like pushing string uphill, because they think that the B2C model will apply to B2B, let’s face it, it’s unlike B2C,” Tim added.
“Decisions are not made based on a tweet. A blog post. A webinar. These decisions are made based off of trust over an extended period of time. And so knowing who you’re working with and having trust in that individual is incredibly important,” Tim also noted.
Watch, listen to or read Tim’s complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal.”
Kevin L. Jackson of GC GlobalNet
CEO, GC GlobalNet
“Communication is key. You need to be able to communicate information effectively using the written, spoken, and visual word, and you have to be able to do that through multiple channels.” — Kevin Jackson @Kevin_Jackson Click To Tweet
“Change is constant and change is accelerating. As an influencer or a subject matter expert, your ability to describe and explain the impact of information technology on business and key performance metrics is critical,” Kevin explained.
“When you communicate, you need to use the industry’s vernacular, because that is what will make you unique. Communication is key. You need to be able to communicate information effectively using the written, spoken, and visual word, and you have to be able to do that through multiple channels — mass media, including social media. By being able to communicate well in those different forms across these different channels, your audience will grow rapidly and organically,” Kevin also noted.
“It’s really important to understand or accept this as a relationship. Not a short term experience, but a long term relationship where the influencer is a valued part of not just the marketing team, but the communications team, and the sales team. You really break free through collaboration and open dialogue with your colleagues and partners,” Kevin added.
Learn more from Kevin and see his full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Kevin Jackson of GC GlobalNet on Cloud Computing.”
Reach New Heights With B2B Influencer Marketing
These days successful B2B influencer marketing hardly ever follows the way it’s always been done, as all 12 of our subject matter experts have shown. We hope you’ll find the tactics and insights from Kevin, Tim, Oliver, Liam, Sarah, Eric, Nicole, Tamara, Dez, Keith, Minda, and Ramon inspiring and useful as you plan your upcoming B2B influencer marketing initiatives.
For even more insight from leading B2B marketers, be sure to also check out our Inside B2B Influence series of video interviews and podcasts, including the latest featuring Sarita Rao of AT&T, in “Inside B2B Influence: Sarita Rao of AT&T on Growing B2B Executive Influence with Social Media.”
Crafting award-winning B2B marketing with a skillful mixture of influence takes considerable time and effort, which is why many firms choose to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.