Best Practices for B2B Influencer Marketing
When kicking off influencer marketing programs on the B2B side, I’ve found the following approaches to work best. By sticking to these best practices, I’ve been able to help my clients build authentic relationships with thought leaders in their space while developing brand new content distribution paths. Don’t get me wrong, traditional public relations efforts still matter.
However, these newer practices — related to thought leadership and finding ways to message your product/service via influencers — is definitely a key new facet in an overall, big picture PR strategy and represent the face of modern public relations,
1. Build in Time for a Proper Courtship
In my experience, the only times influencer relationships have panned out comes after a client has budgeted in the time necessary to truly personalize the initial outreach communication with each influencer. Completing thorough research and finding the right angles to spark up a conversation takes effort and cannot be automated.
2. Give Before You Ask
Approach an influencer only after you’ve determined that they themselves will also gain value (beyond any monetary compensation that may be on the table.) Choose to partner only with those influencers who will also gain value and/or brand lift from engaging in the partnership.
3. Start Small, Build Trust
Don’t try to go big too soon. At the outset, approach influencers with co-sponsorship ideas that fit into their existing content and efforts that are likely to result in building up their brand. After relationship / trust / familiarity is established, then ideas for campaigns that may lean a bit more your way make sense.
4. Chill Brah
Lose the “sell” schtick. Think cocktail party. No one wants to partner with Desperate. Approach new relationships with a keen understanding of the value you bring to the possible partnership. Present ideas as you would normally with friends in real life. Don’t go hardcore salesperson and oversell your ideas. You’re attempting to build a relationship, not hounding down a cold sales lead.
How To Stay Ahead of the Changes
Two foundational areas I advise clients to move on when they’re looking to stay ahead of marketing industry trends are related to owning your own data and forecasting properly to ensure a sufficient runway.
1) Proprietary CRM
Start building your own proprietary CRM to track influencer relationships. Don’t rely on crowdsourced SaaS solutions like GroupHigh or BuzzSumo to store your contacts. Those tools are fine for research, but you don’t want to put your company in the position of having valuable contact data held hostage in another company’s system.
If you have questions about how to build this or where to start, feel free to email me and we can talk through your options.
2) Sufficient Runway
Expect top-heavy costs in the beginning of a new program. Allocate budget to the necessary software and personnel resources it will require to lay a solid foundation and get your program off the ground. We’re talking about content creation and relationship building here. Expecting ROI right off the bat, or even within a few months is generally unrealistic in the B2B space. This is RELATIONSHIP BUILDING, not CPC.