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When running a business, marketing can be one of those tough pills to swallow. There are numerous bases to cover and even more ways to go about it. Unfortunately, without advertising in any capacity, your company might simply dry up and out of existence. In every conceivable thought exercise, marketing is necessary for a successful business. Obviously, closing shop is not the desired outcome you have for running your own business. And yet, so many companies struggle with their marketing efforts and find themselves in this proverbial boat because of it. All this to say, paying close attention to your advertising methods is advisable.
One way to go about this is to use business-to-business, or B2B, influencer advertising. After all, the amount of spending capital another business has dwarfed that of a single consumer. This is only the beginning, however. Author Amber Naslund highlighted why this type of advertising is so critical, “In the world of B2B, your professional network is everything. Because your business is about business, the potential of who you know and who they know is where powerful connections happen.”
As with marketing in general, there are many aspects to consider when you first launch your B2B influencer marketing strategy. If it is as beneficial as it seems, introducing it to your company might be the best road forward. To help you uncover the secrets and launch a successful B2B influencer marketing strategy, we connected with a few people who have experience doing just that.
1. What do you want to achieve, and how will you know when that’s occurred?
As with any marketing strategy, the beauty of a B2B influencer marketing strategy is that it can be designed and approached in any manner you desire. There is no set template for your campaign to adhere to. So the question remains, what is your company trying to achieve with your B2B influencer marketing strategy? It could be a one-time sale, a regularly-scheduled order of products, or even a collaboration of some kind. This is a decision that must be made.
“No one will hold your hand and help you secure business from another organization. But the help of an influencer might make it easier,” said Brittany Dolin, Co-Founder of Pocketbook Agency. “Set goals for this relationship before you put it in writing. Otherwise, you’ll lose sight of the finish line.”
Additionally, you must keep track of your company’s progress to meet these goals. There are a number of steps which go into making this a reality. For one, putting together the financial cost of the whole endeavor is necessary. On top of this, you must find an influencer to partner with. These two tasks alone may seem like quite the laundry list. But they only scratch the surface of all that goes into tracking your company’s progression towards profiting off a B2B influencer marketing strategy.
“Knowing where you stand regarding the plans you set before your company is just as important as setting the plans themselves,” said Liza Kirsh, CMO at Dymapak. “This is especially true in the influential business practices such as business-to-business influencer marketing.”
2. How much is in the budget for this effort?
Money will always be a large inhibitor to any grandiose plans your company may come up with. Sure, you can throw money around at different marketing ideas and hope something sticks enough to where you begin to turn a profit. But rest assured, very few fortune 500 companies emulate this practice. That is not to say spectacular things are impossible for your company – they very much are. However, this can only happen if you create a plan to use each dollar most effectively.
“B2B marketing alongside an influencer can provide a variety of new cash flow avenues for your company,” said Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka. “But I’ve seen too many companies break their budget trying to do this, and that’s probably the worst move you could make.”
Creating a realistic budget is no small potatoes. The same can be said about adhering to this budget on a round-the-clock basis. Before either can be done you must ask your team a couple key questions. What is the total amount of money the company can reasonably spend on this particular marketing effort? As well as, how much can the company expect to pay the influencer alone for their touch on the strategy? The answers here are an excellent starting point for your budgeting efforts.
“At this point, because so many companies are using influencers to advertise their products, advertising in this way has gotten extremely expensive,” said Adam Bém, Co-Founder and COO of Victoria VR. “But, it’s one of the better ways to go about making connections with other businesses, so I suggest putting a little extra money aside.”
3. Identifying the influencer to represent your brand
Hopefully, sorting through your financial situation’s intricacies will not take too long. After all, it is not as if influencers grow on trees. Therefore, securing one worth partnering with should be a priority. Though remember, this is a stepping-stone process. Your aforementioned goals should be in place, and so should your budget. But do not forget your resolve to adhere to this budget. Only with all this organized are you ready to begin the ever-so-important search process for the influencer your company will partner with.
“The influencer you choose as the representative for your business-to-business marketing should be someone who exemplifies your company’s characteristics,” said Tony Staehelin, CEO of Benable. “Really, it’s about relatability – if your influencer of choice has no existing foothold related to your industry, they might be better left alone.”
There is much more to this process than simply finding the right fit on the outside. For one, do you know if your ideal influencer is available to take on any additional partnerships? They might have an existing partnership with another company that precludes them from working with you. How about compensation? Your company and the influencer must be in lockstep on the amount of money exchanged. Otherwise, your strategy will never see the light of day.
“Do your due diligence on an internet influencer you might end up going into business with,” said Shaunak Amin, CEO and Co-Founder of SwagMagic. “Of course, you want to know if they’re a good fit. But, you also want to avoid any potential issues.”
4. Fine tune your strategy and the chosen influencer’s role
While all of the above is certainly much to take in, that is not all we have to cover. Switching gears a little bit we’ll dive into the specifics behind the marketing efforts themselves. Obviously, you want to avoid total disaster so pay close attention.
All this starts with how you intend to funnel new attention, and subsequently, money from other companies, your way. Because you have chosen to go the influencer marketing route, this hinges on your influencer and the technology you have supporting this process.
“Having a well known and liked internet influencer on your side can make connecting with other businesses a dream,” said Michael Van, CEO of Furnishr. “But this is only the case if the people viewing your advertising can get to your products. Make sure all your links work and are labeled properly.”
Aside from this, another vital aspect is to note – the legal side of things. There was a time and place where influencers could pitch their partnerships as if they already existed in their personal life before going public with the information. Obviously, this is shady at best and deceitful at worst. To counter this, the almighty rulers of the internet decide that every branded partnership should be labeled as so regardless of where it appears online.
“Failing to show your audience you have paid an influencer to tout your brand will result in hefty fines,” said Sumeer Kaur, CEO of Lashkaraa. “But, there’s an ever darker downside – customers will lose some trust.”
5. Be creative!
Combining all the elements we have covered up to this point into a fully operational B2B influencer marketing strategy will stretch you and your company thin in some areas. In fact, there may be times when it feels as if you are banging your head against the wall. However, there is one final element to remember – creativity in your marketing media.
“The influencer supporting your marketing strategy is only capable of as much as you give them in terms of content,” said Emily Saunders, Chief Revenue Officer at eLuxury. “They are not going to create anything for you. Therefore your team should pull out all the stops to grab the eye of the business you’re attempting to attract.”
The good news here is that you are left entirely to your own devices. It could be that your team believes the current product offering is best advertised through a flashy pitch video. Alternatively, a podcast could be just the thing to suit your marketing needs. At the end of the day, do not sell yourself short. Anything you put out should make it apparent who the company of origin is.
“Companies have wasted more money than they care to admit on marketing practices that in no way represent their values or public image,” said Brian Munce, Managing Director from Gestalt Brand Lab. “To me, it’s important for a brand’s marketing to be cohesive and reflect well on the brand.”
Nothing you read here will be the magic solution for your B2B influencer marketing strategy. The truth is, you hold the keys to your own success in this arena. If there is one takeaway worth memorizing in all this, it is the words of Beth Comstock, the former vice chair of General Electric, “Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate.”
You may also like: 8 Tips for Tracking and Measuring Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns
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