B2B or not B2B: Should your B2B brand consider influencer marketing?

If you’re a marketer or communicator at a B2B organization, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “influencer marketing” but may not have investigated it – or even considered it – for your business. In its simplest form, influencer marketing is about using a small group of people with a wide and established network to spread your story for you. Many consumer brands have embraced this concept, but B2B companies have been slow to adopt.

In an era of continuous partial attention, should your B2B brand consider influencer marketing as part of its marketing mix? I’m not here to make that decision for you (though if you’d like to start a conversation, I’m always happy to chat). But I would offer these three considerations as you contemplate whether influencer marketing is right for your B2B brand:

  1. FINDING THE RIGHT INFLUENCERS WILL TAKE TIME. For consumer brands, finding influencers with large built-in followerships isn’t all that hard. You’ll see sports figures pushing beverages or reality star divas promoting clothing lines. But those influencers and products have broad consumer appeal. What happens when you’re trying to promote a widget or service offering to a finite audience of users? Your potential universe of influencers suddenly becomes a lot smaller. But, I would argue, that smaller universe of influencers could wield more influence over your target customer than a pop star could over a large mass audience – provided you find the right ones to partner with. Who has a voice within your industry? Do you have a particularly vocal happy customer? These are some questions to ask as you contemplate who you could use to help tell your brand’s story.
  2. THE FTC WILL BE WATCHING. The Federal Trade Commission requires clear disclosure when someone is compensated to promote your product or service. (Many large consumer brands and celebrities still don’t follow these guidelines, but it is starting to catch up with them.) So, if you’re going to give influencers something in exchange for their promotion of it (say, a free trial of your new B2B accounting software), be clear in your communications with them about the importance of properly disclosing the relationship. This is especially important for public companies, which will have not only the FTC but also the Securities and Exchange Commission, investors and analysts to explain things to if disclosures aren’t made. While the FTC hasn’t done much in the way of cracking down just yet, it’s only a matter of time before it does as influencer marketing efforts gain steam.
  3. THIS IS A CHANCE TO STAND OUT. It sounds like I’m trying to scare you away from considering influencer marketing, doesn’t it? I swear, I’m not! Since so few B2B brands are engaging in influencer marketing programs, this could really be your company’s chance to stand out. Do you consider your organization to be progressive, cutting-edge or an industry leader? This may be an opportunity for you to solidify that market position. On the flip side, are you a smaller player or trying to carve out your niche? Deploying an influencer marketing program may be one way to amplify your reach by getting your story out using someone with an established industry voice.

Certainly, there are a number of other factors to consider as you contemplate an influencer marketing program, but these considerations can at least start you down the path. If you decide to move forward, there will be a lot of work to do in figuring out the mechanics of how the program will work (particularly since there isn’t a great road map for B2B companies to follow). But, for the B2Bs that are first and get it right, the potential impact and upside could be huge.

Interested in learning more? Let’s start a conversation.

Not quite ready for influencer marketing? Maybe a B2B social media initiative is more your speed. 

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