Friday, February 26, 2016

3 Tips For B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy

I am sure 99% of digital marketing folks have heard (or read) that influencer marketing is the “next big thing” as we move forward into 2016.

But if you ask some of the seasoned marketers (or veterans, if you will), they will tell you that influencer marketing isn’t a new concept. It has been around since decades, being practised in various forms, which has now evolved into a proper Marketing discipline.

Brands have always used “influencers” in their traditional advertising strategy since decades for positioning themselves and thereby creating a spiral-effect to increase their product sales.

Moving on to the digital era, influencer marketing has penetrated here also in various forms. Digital savvy consumers have steadily and persuasively devoured feedbacks, star ratings, discussions, and many other methods of trying to get product and/or service “recommendations” from other consumers before taking the buying decision.

All these unstructured practices have now given rise to a structured Influencer Marketing model, which is nothing less than a strategic lever to digital marketing. Among other levers such as Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Display Advertising, Blogger Outreach, Link Building, Influencer Marketing also holds a very critical position now in 2016.

So, what are the key steps to an effective Influencer Marketing strategy for a typical B2B company?

1) Identify the Right Influencers

The biggest step is to identify the right influencers in your industry. Naturally, if the influencers that you identify and connect with don’t fit into the persona of your prospective customers, then all your efforts for influencing your prospects will be a waste.

For example, if you are into selling sports gear, your best bet will be to reign in an athlete. If you are launching a line of baby clothing, your influencer would be a famous actress who has had a baby; and if you are into B2B arena, then your influencers would be reputed consultants from your industry, columnists or product reviewers from the most popular online publishers.

You must also understand your influencers’ style of communication and check if it will fit with your overall brand’s communication strategy. This is important because the influencers would want to maintain their style of connecting with their followers; and if they lose this just because they need to “fit in” into your communication style, then all the efforts might just fizzle out.

Case in point: Would you consider Blogger Outreach as one of the Influencer Marketing strategies?

2) Build and Nurture the Relationship

Every relationship needs to be nurtured for it to persist. Once you have identified the right influencers, you need to build your relationships with them and nurture them.

To do this in the right manner, experts advise that you need to put in the personalized touch when interacting with them. You need to treat them as how you would treat your best friend! Take them out for lunches or give them small thoughtful gifts (everyone likes receiving gifts!).

3) Have a Structured Approach

When you are building your influencer marketing strategy, you must also build a structured approach for executing it. Some of the points to ponder are:
  1. Do you have your buyer persona in place so that you can find the right influencers for those target groups?
  2. What are you looking for from the influencers? Is it article-publishing in online publications of your industry? Or is it a product review that should be published?
  3. Do you have quarterly plan for your influencers that you can share and build upon further?
  4. How will you measure the impact?

Every marketer must delve deeper into these points and build a plan of action along with every influencer who is on board with you.

Your turn!

What are other ways to build an effective Influencer Marketing Strategy?