Here’s Why Every B2B Company Needs to Get on the Influencer Marketing Train

March 25, 2021

Shama Hyder

Editor’s note: This guest post was contributed by Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen Media.

B2B companies must start pursuing influencer marketing in 2021, or they’ll get left behind. Here’s why: Without trade shows and traditional in-person ways to market their products, B2B companies must find an alternative way to build brand recognition and, in turn, drive sales.

Most people understand influencer marketing in terms of B2C products, with famous social-media celebrities hocking all kinds of products all the time.

It’s vastly different for B2B, but equally as effective.

Influencer marketing in the B2B sphere requires a more strategic investment, more time in returns, but ultimately yields a greater reward and a greater ROI. For companies selling B2B products, systems, and services, influencer marketing is driven by thought leaders who are considered a trusted voice to your targeted leads.

It’s the principle of word-of-mouth marketing. Ultimately, people are interested in – and will buy a product – if it’s recommended by someone they trust.

B2B companies need trustworthy figures who have impact among their targeted potential clients to promote their product, system, or service. This is a pivotal moment in B2B marketing because, though we made it through 2020, our world and our ways of selling have been forever changed by the pandemic.

Influencer marketing provides B2B companies a personalized way of connecting with their potential clients, in a time when personal communication is few and far between.

Influencer Marketing Expands the Reach of B2B Companies

One common misconception with influencer marketing is that, in order for it to be effective, your influencer has to have a massive following online. This is not the case. B2B companies will likely have more success with micro influencers and nano influencers than any other type.

While the typical image of an influencer is a social media guru with hundreds of thousands of followers, effective B2B influencers are more likely to be found among the thought-leaders with smaller but more dedicated followers.

B2B companies will benefit from strategic searches to find the people influencing within their target market. This can start as simply as searching for who those targeted clients are listening to. Whose posts are they sharing? Whose books are they recommending? Who are they following online?

Identifying the voice of impact is the first step in searching for an effective influencer to market for your B2B company.

Whether the influencer’s audience is one thousand followers or one million followers, this form of marketing will expand the company’s reach exponentially. Here’s why, plain and simple: it’s word of mouth. While leads may be fewer in B2B campaigns, versus B2C campaigns, the yield is almost always greater -- there’s more at stake for B2B campaigns than those geared at selling one small item.

Ultimately, the investment in B2B influencer marketing is going to expand a company’s reach through a strategic word-of-mouth campaign.

Influencer Marketing is the New and Best Way to Sell in 2021

However, B2B companies have been too slow in adopting influencer marketing. And while perhaps the strategy is harder to crack in B2B than in B2C, it’s costing companies that don’t jump on the bandwagon.

With digital communication moved online more than ever before, buyers are inundated with constant messaging. As a result, they’ve learned to tune out voices that they don’t think will add value to their lives.

People are more likely to open an email from a person than a company or brand. The same applies here: More people are open to an idea or a product if they hear about it through a person first.

Influencer marketing allows B2B companies to put a face to their brand. In some ways, it’s like a testimonial, but it’s inverted. Potential customers see the person they trust (the influencer) first and they tune in. Once they’re listening, then they hear about the product, system or service.

This strategy ultimately cuts out the noise before the product is mentioned because people are already tuned into what the influencer is saying, thanks to that underlying trust.

Influencer Marketing Moves the Needle in the Industry – With Your Company at the Center

B2B companies should target thought leaders in their industry to act as influencers for two reasons. The first reason is that thought leaders have a wider sphere of influence than any one brand. The second reason is that thought leaders truly, well, lead thought. Companies can then be part of the progression of their industry by working with those influencers who are growing, developing and pushing the needle forward in terms of thought.

In contrast to B2C marketing campaigns, which last perhaps a few weeks at most, B2B marketing campaigns can have long term positive effects for companies because they have become part of innovation within the industry.

Practically speaking, this could look like a tech influencer promoting a B2B productivity system and touting its positive effects to their audience. Then, as this product is adopted, it becomes part of the narrative around productivity in that particular industry.

This moves the needle forward, with your brand at the center.

You Need to Adopt Influencer Marketing, No Question

Influencer marketing in the B2B industry isn’t as straightforward as B2C, for certain. PR firms and marketing agencies know how to target the best influencers, and how to forge longstanding relationships that transform a company’s sales across time.

Take this as your cue, 2021 is the time to optimize influence.

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