31 Jan The Key Ingredient to Winning Trust in B2B: Customer Influencer Marketing
Welcome to 2019. If you specialise in complex sales and work for a technology vendor that serves enterprise customers, you will note that engaging and establishing trust with new contacts in high value accounts is becoming increasingly difficult.
Ask your prospects and customers and you will find they are time poor and sceptical about corporate messaging coming directly from vendors. They simply don’t want to be “marketed to”.
What is B2B Customer Influencer Marketing?
Your future customers are searching for relevant, meaningful interactions and authentic advice to solve their most pressing problems. Often, they look to their peers for advice.
Customer influencer marketing leverages existing customer advocates and presents them with opportunities to interact with and “influence” their peers. The reward for advocates is usually not monetary – they benefit by enhancing their professional profile and being perceived as thought leaders.
B2B companies that provide the right environment to help raise their advocates’ professional profiles and nurture them in the right way will benefit from warm introductions into tough-to-crack accounts and more.
Enable your influencers to share and discuss their challenges, solutions and best practices with people in similar roles in your target audience, offer opportunities to meet, network, learn and connect, and you will be rewarded with a chance to convert trust into engagement.
A word of warning – don’t be tempted to push your own messaging or agenda. Pushy sales techniques will only serve to alienate your audience.
Making Customer Influencer Marketing a pillar of your Account Based Marketing strategy. Where to start?
1. Only consider B2B Influencer marketing if you are prepared to commit resources, time and effort for the long term.
Nurturing relationships over time, consistency of engagement and dedication to providing value to all parties involved is a must.
2. Align Sales and Marketing teams around the objective of your Influencer marketing program.
Clarify responsibility for engagement, relationship “ownership” and points of contact. Set KPIs that put the customer in the centre of your efforts (see #4)
3. Attract influencers to your brand by offering them value
Make sure your advocates see value in being influencers by giving them the opportunity to enhance their profile and showcase their expertise. Create initiatives and programs that give them a platform to become thought leaders and to provide value to their peers.
4. Focus on the right KPIs
Setting the right KPIs will make or break the success of your Customer Influencer Marketing efforts. KPIs should focus on long-term gain – explore the correlation between bringing a long-term value to your influencers and new revenue attributed via Influencer Marketing.
We are seeing a trend in larger markets (US, UK), where vendors often leverage “third party influencers” – writers, consultants, analysts, people with a specific point of view, a degree of expertise and a large audience on social media – who are encouraged to share and promote content via their social media channels.
Due to the size of the Australia and NZ markets, limited number of “independent” influencers and the nature of the B2B decision-making process, I feel this trend will have limited traction Down Under. In Australia and New Zealand, your current customers are the key to developing a successful Influencer Marketing strategy. Fee free to share your opinion on this trend under this article.