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Lessons from 10 Trailblazers Who Will Make You Better at B2B Influencer Marketing

Jul 10, 2017

Pop quiz: what do the some of the most recognizable global brands in B2B technology share in common? Answer: they are leading the way for enterprise influencer marketing. In collaboration with Mark Schaefer, we had the chance to interview 10 industry experts who have been building and scaling programs across their organizations.

While influencer marketing has become a mainstream tactic for consumer-facing industries, B2B has been slower to adopt. Yet despite a cautious start, these global brands are now ramping up quickly, trailblazing through the stumbling blocks--and most importantly, they are seeing success.

To be clear, when we talk about influencer marketing, we’re referring to the following description, as defined by Rachel Miller:

“Influencer marketing is a byproduct of marketing that focuses on using an individual’s influence to amplify your brand’s message. Instead of marketing to a large group of potential customers, brands collaborate with influencers who already have trust and rapport with your desired audience to help tell the brand story.”

As an influencer marketing technology company, we tend to “drink our own champagne”, meaning we lead with influencer marketing in order to tell our story. In the case of B2B influencer marketing, we partnered with Mark Schaefer, a renowned speaker, author, and educator in the B2B marketing industry, to examine the common challenges, industry trends, and markers for success in the space. As an authoritative and credible thought leader, we knew Mark was the right voice for this initiative. Backstory: we have built a relationship with Mark over the years, so the idea to work together on this paper came about rather naturally. Mark knew and trusted us and we knew and trusted Mark; aka, influencer relations at work.

Every time I’m in a room with CMOs from B2B technology organizations, the conversation inevitably turns to influencer marketing.” - Mark Schaefer, Speaker, Author, Educator

The findings of our collaboration are presented in this white paper. If you’re not convinced you should invest an hour reading that, here’s a teaser so you can get to it and strike while the [influencer marketing] iron’s hot:

Lesson from Microsoft: Manage relationships with the influencer’s perspective in mind

“Don’t place the burden of knowing everything about your company on the influencer. Help them understand what your company does.” - Amanda Duncan, Customer Lifestyle Influencer Relations, Microsoft

Lesson from SAP: Expect a greater return on B2B marketing efforts when working with influencers

“We know that programs and content typically generate 2 - 4X greater return than if we were to run that same campaign without an influencer.” - Amisha Gandhi, Head of Influencer Marketing, SAP

Lesson from IBM: Know that influencer endorsements are unwelcomed by the B2B environment

“If an influencer becomes a celebrity and endorses anything that moves for money, that personal brand won’t last very long in the B2B environment.”- Andrew Grill, Global Managing Partner, IBM

Lesson from Forbes: Rethink the way you approach influencers (they’re people, not channels)

“We’ve see the tendency to approach influencers as a channel, versus a human being who has built a loyal community based on their highly authentic content.” - Ann Marinovich, SVP Content Partnerships & Strategy, Forbes

Lesson from Hewlett Packard Enterprise: Play the long game and reap the benefits of real influencer relationships

“We had our first tech day in 2009 and I’m still working with those folks today. So, the long-term aspect [of influencer relationships] is absolutely real.” - Becca Taylor, Influencer Marketing Manager, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Lesson from Dell: Avoid the temptation to have an influencer “sell” your brand

“There is a temptation to want an influencer to say ‘buy this or that,’ but our team is very clear that will never expect that in the relationship.” - Konstanze Alex-Brown, Global Digital Communications, Dell

Lesson from Samsung: Remember that peers trust each other above brands and advertising

“Many big brands may appear out of touch or unapproachable. We want to create demand by developing a true peer-to-peer dialogue with key people in the industry.” - Maxime Guirauton, B2B Marketing Director, Europe Samsung Electronics

Lesson from Social Tribe: Hone a relationship with the influencer through credibility and thought leadership

“B2B influencer marketing is much more relationship-centric from the beginning and then it evolves into a relationship around and product or service.” - Megan Conley, Founder, Social Tribe

Lesson from Intel: Approach influencer marketing at the strategic level, rather than tactical

“There are a lot of companies out there that just think ‘We have to do influencer marketing’ without taking a step back and having a real strategy.” - Nicole Smith, Global Brand & Innovation Communications Manager, Intel Corporation

Lesson from Aruba, Hewlett Packard Enterprise: Foresee the evolution of measurement from reach to outcomes that directly touch the bottom line

“Where we’re going to go and where we need to go is getting influence measurement into a social attribution model.” - Pegah Kamal, Social Media Manager, Aruba, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Intrigued? Get inspired from the rest of the insight and lessons learned from Mark Schaefer and the 10 experts featured above. Download The Rise of Influencer Marketing in B2B Technology.