B2B influencer marketing is all the rage this year. Impressed by the results of their B2C colleagues, B2B advertisers are trying out this promising new marketing channel. However, it has very specific characteristics, which differentiate it from its B2C counterpart. Here are the five things you absolutely need to know (or do) about the subject.
Focusing on market expertise rather than social influence
B2B influencing doesn’t only happen on social networks. Who is publishing research articles? Who is being invited by the media (online, but also TV, paper) to comment on the trends in your sector? Who is headlining conferences in your industry?
Indeed, you could accompany B2B experts in their journey into digital channels with a first partnership, and benefit from the visibility.
Educating influencers on your offer
In terms of B2C influencer marketing, most often, you don’t have to educate the influencer on your product or service: for example a beauty blogger will understand very well how to use your latest revolutionary cream and especially how to highlight it in a blog post or on Instagram. It’s their job.
B2B services are more sophisticated, and it is necessary to take the time to train the influencer well: what is the principle, how does it work, and how does this service differ from the competition? As a consequence:
- The influencer will be glad to extend their field of knowledge; the more enthusiastic they are the more engaged they’ll be, which can only contribute to the success of the campaign,
- They’ll understand the particularities of your offer and will be able to respond in a relevant way to the questions and comments of their audience,
- You’re paving the way for a long-term, more efficient B2B collaboration, than just a one-shot.
Being patient to get results
In B2B, the sales cycle is generally much longer than in B2C. Typically, for a professional software company, it averages at least 6 months. For the first 4 months, the prospect carries out their own independent research, and then decides to contact a sales rep, who will accompany them for about 2 other months until the final decision.
As a consequence, it’s illusory to expect an immediate return on investment. B2B marketing is carried out over the long term and a partnership with a B2B influencer must run over a period of several months rather than a few days as is often the case in B2C.
Participating in content creation
If B2C influencers build their success on their creativity and authenticity, B2B influencers base their authority on their knowledge. Therefore they can be destabilized when content creation is requested. To make matters worse, they’re less used to teaming up with brands, as B2B influencer marketing is still in its infancy.
The solution lies in the co-creation of content (or confluence). Whether it’s an article or a video, don’t hesitate to accompany the influencer in their approach, by providing them with turnkey creations which can be reused to enrich their own content, or even by giving them access to your internal resources.
Being aware of conflicts of influence
This subject rarely arises with B2C (where the main concern is about fake influence rather than conflict of influence!), but it can occur with B2B and must absolutely be taken into account.
For example, the B2B influencer potentially works in the industry in which they’re an authority, but might not reveal that fact to their audience or partners. However, if they’re employed by one of your competitors (direct or indirect), where they might even be in a senior position, you must know about it. The last thing you want is for their employer to turn against them, forcing them to cancel the partnership (that took you several months to build), or even directly against you.
Beware of previous partnerships too. B2B influencing is built in the long term, it’s possible that the influencer is still working with a partner even if the agreement dates back several months and seems to be over.
Now you’re fully prepared for your next B2B campaign. What are the next steps ? Finding a B2B Influencer (below) and choosing the right collaboration format. It’s time to get down to business!