B2B Influencer Marketing Mastery: Proven Strategies for Business Leaders

B2B Influencer Marketing Mastery: Proven Strategies for Business Leaders

B2B influencer marketing is rapidly expanding, with the global market predicted to grow from $21 billion in 2023 to $52 billion by 2028.

In the fast evolving world of business-to-business (B2B) marketing, leveraging deep expertise and proven strategies is crucial. With over 25 years of experience in B2B, including 15 years in corporate leadership roles and a successful transition to a seasoned entrepreneur, I have been at the forefront of of driving influencer marketing forward.

Having collaborated with a multitude of brands (both B2B and B2C), leading and executing influencer programs both as an agency head and directly as a brand ambassador, I've gained a unique dual perspective that bridges both sides of the influencer equation.

Today, B2B influencer marketing isn't about mass appeal but about precision and building genuine relationships that lead to sustained business growth.

What is B2B influencer marketing?

B2B Influencer Marketing for Business Leaders: What it isB2B influencer marketing is a strategy for partnering with influential leaders in the industry you want to reach with a goal to boost your brand's reach, authority, and credibility. The most common desired business outcome for influencer marketing is brand visibility, high ROI, friendlier (warmer) leads and more engagement.

As B2B leaders, we're not just trying to reach consumers; we're speaking to other humans within other businesses, who make decisions that can significantly impact their operations and profitability. This is where influencers come into play – they have the power to sway decisions, shape market trends, and drive authoritative conversations within specific industries. 🚀

Why B2B Influencer Marketing?

Why should you care? Given that 69% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in 2024, understanding its core benefits is crucial. When done right, influencer marketing does't just expand your reach – it significantly boosts your brand authority, credibility and drives measurable returns on investment.

Let's dive into how you can achieve these results by integrating strategic influencer collaborations into your marketing efforts, using approaches that I have honed over decades of real-world experience.

These strategies are crafted to resonate with your core business values, projecting not just a brand, but a brand with soul! This is the first of a series I am doing to help you learn to master influencer marketing! Make sure you also subscribe so you don't miss anything!

Prepare Before Partnering with Influencers

Establishing Clear Goals

b2b influencer marketing goals and strategy

Before scouting for influencers, it's crucial to know what you want to achieve. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or establish thought leadership?

Setting clear, measurable goals from the start ensures that every step you take with influencers is strategic and contributes directly to your desired outcomes. This is because each goal dictates a different strategy and choice of influencer!

Understanding Your Audience

Influencer marketing isn't just about reaching more people; it's about reaching the right people. This means understanding who your ideal customer is. You need to KNOW your target buyer persona intimately – their needs, challenges, and aspirations – to ensure your messaging resonates deeply and drives engagement to achieve your desired business outcomes.

By aligning with influencers who share your target audience, you can ensure your messages resonate and drive engagement.

If an influencer does not ask you what audience and buyer personas you are targeting within 5 minutes of your discussion with them, you should keep looking. Even a mediocre B2B influencer should ask this question as it is the key to driving results in B2B marketing.

Resource Allocation

Success in influencer marketing requires more than just a budget; it demands time, attention, and dedicated personnel. Smart resource management can be the difference between a lackluster campaign and a remarkable one.

Using Influencer Platforms

While not mandatory, influencer platforms can be a valuable tool in your arsenal. These platforms helps streamline the process of finding and managing influencers, providing analytics that can guide your strategy and improve outcomes. However, remember that the personal touch in building human relationships often makes a significant difference in B2B contexts.

B2B Influencer Marketing Agencies

B2B Influencer Marketing Agency Our agency offers comprehensive influencer marketing services tailored to your needs and budget. Opt for agencies that prioritize your brand's long-term success and are committed to building lasting relationships rather than transient engagements.

You can choose to hire an influencer marketing agency to help you define, build, launch and manage your influencer marketing program. Some agencies such as ours do influencer marketing for brands along with other marketing programs, digital marketing or social media campaigns that can integrate nicely with your in-house team. Of course you can also opt to let an agency do it all for you. I highly suggest having dedicated resources internally, and at minimum having at least one senior level marketer and a support team member to manage the relationships and program. You want to build lasting relationships with influencers, not only a one night stand!

Not all agencies are created equal so make sure you do your research. Pricing and engagement models vary from the agency skimming a percentage off the entire engagement as commission to an hourly based payment structure. Some agencies may charge based upon how many influencers you want to recruit and the details of the campaigns you want to do with them.

We charge a flat fee based on your program, timelines and how we are integrating with your internal team. We work with you to fit within your budget and help you become the absolute rock star in your role, ensuring your influencer program helps you achieve your measurable goals! We have helped a lot of B2B marketing leaders leap frog their peers in their career goals.

A marketing agency can either help or hurt your career. Be sure you pick an agency that has you, your dream customers, your brand and the influencer at the heart of their priorities!

Influencer Marketing Collaborative Content Strategies

Influencer Created Content

Allow influencers to create content that showcases their unique perspectives on your products or services. This not only adds authenticity but also taps into the influencer's existing audience in a way that feels organic and engaging. When you become too demanding with influencers and try to control what they say and how, you may lose the special magic sauce and the reason why they have such an engaged audience.

Co-Created Content

This is one of my favorite things to do when working as a brand ambassador with the brands who hire me to be an influencer. I also love as an agency, connecting amazing influencers with brands who like to partner with them to create content. This collaboration can take many forms, from co-branded creative assets, live virtual events, webinars, white papers, videos to research reports, Co-created content helps position both parties as thought leaders in your industry. It's a great way to expand your team, get an extra smart eye and brain on your projects and better connect with your ideal customer!

How to Choose the Right B2B Influencers

Influencer Marketing Requires Flexibility and Innovation

how to choose the right b2b influencersBe open to how influencers want to work and the platforms they prefer. It could be a LinkedIn Live session, LinkedIn Article, Twitter Space or even a podcast.

B2B influencer marketing isn't just about one single post. It takes 7-10 brand touches for someone to remember your brand. The best B2B influencer marketers have far more than one platform for you to tap into. They should have other media such as podcasts, email newsletters, blogs, and video channels.

If possible, choose B2B influencers who have an INTEGRATED platform that flows with ease. Your ROI will be higher if they are experienced at creating customer experiences that guide the buyer through their sales funnels, media and live events, building relationships and nurturing leads at every brand touch point.

Each piece and platform doesn't need to be perfect. Look for influencers who are honest with you up front about the platforms where they have top authority and the platforms they consider secondary or may be new to testing on.

Be careful of the one trick pony B2B influencers who may have recently learned to hack a social platform algorithm, but have little to zero actual experience driving B2B interest in sales. Preferably you want to work with B2B influencers who have real world B2B experience and have been in the trenches.

Look for B2B influencers who are willing to invest in the partnership with your brand for a longer term partnership and engagement.

The value in B2B influencer marketing comes from what I call a “drumbeat approach” where you are driving a multi-touch program always touching your dream customers with interesting conversations, valuable content and community to support them.

Not all B2B influencers know how to do this. If they lack any real world B2B experience they may struggle with understanding how corporate teams work, buy, sell and integrate your services or products.

B2B influencers are in high demand because they are wanted for their business acumen, industry expertise and business experience.

This is because in the B2B landscape, it's not about getting likes and shares. It's about communicating with relevant, deep expertise in a human way with the RIGHT people.

Make certain they know how to not only inspire and gain attention of your target customer, but that they also know how to have a meaningful conversation that can slide the prospect into your email list, sales funnel or live event by taking an action they are excited about. Currency on social media and digital marketing today = attention plus action. You need both!

Partner up with influencers to test new markets, content, engagement model, creative assets, landing pages and more. The more you can work together to create unique and valuable experiences for your target customers, the more successful you will be together!

Power in Community and Collaboration

You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them!

Look at influencer marketing as a way to build community. You are partnering with a leader in the target industry and market you want to sell to! Together you have the opportunity to meet new contacts, make new friends, foster relationships that will build community. Eventually you can authentically harvest these relationships into partnerships, clients and brand evangelists who will refer new business to you.

The power of influencer marketing is far greater than the number of likes or comments you get on a post. What are those likes and comments doing to help you achieve your goals?

Embrace what I call the OPCx Factor – leveraging other people's content, community and investments (such as advertising dollars, media platforms) to achieve your goals and maximize the ROI of your efforts.

It's important you choose the right influencers so that you can fully trust them in the recommendations they make. Let them take you out of your comfort zone and introduce you new methods, mediums, as well as new markets and buyers that could potentially change the ROI game for you exponentially!

Look for influencers who have already earned trust, authority in markets you want to reach. You want them to have an already engaged audience who takes action based on their recommendations, because they trust them.

Don't Get Hung Up on Vanity Metrics

B2B is a different game when it comes to engagement. You can't always tell a good B2B influencer by the number of likes on a post.

Ask additional questions such as what are their conversion rates on free offers such as co-branded free guides, white papers, live events and more.

For example, I achieve 80% average conversion rate on all of my landing pages for free offers. This includes for the pages I create for brands I partner with for collaboration. This is because I have trust with my audience and community.

I have been nurturing relationships with my LinkedIn community since 2005 when I was still working in corporate B2B, building brands and revenue for enterprise hardware and software programs in Fortune 10 brands. When I partner with a brand, they get to tap into these relationships and leverage my investment in LinkedIn for over almost 20 years. It's more than vanity metrics, and you can't put a price on the trust I have earned with my audience for that long – it's priceless.

I recently was a keynote speaker at an elite CXO branding event for enterprise brands in both B2B and B2C. The event had an audience of more than 3000 corporate brand leaders. I asked them if they regularly learn and leverage content on LinkedIn and Facebook for business needs. Almost all of them raised their hands. I then asked them if they publicly like or share that same information they find valuable. Less than FIVE people raised their hands. This is consistent with what I have seen with our hundreds of clients, students plus other industry data and research.

What does this tell us? Many B2B leaders will NOT publicly like or share their favorite information. There are different reasons for this such as they want to keep the information secret from their competitors or they may be shopping for services or partners and don't want to tip anyone off to their interest while they secret shop digitally.

Ask the Influencer What Metrics They Prefer to Track

Do not be shy in asking the influencer for their key metrics and what data they track. Just as you should be ready to clearly articulate what success of a campaign looks like to you, a high caliber influencer should be able to do the same and help you understand where their strengths are.

Even better is when you can work together to also identify areas you can collaborate to both improve. You will then have the start of a real partnership and you can both grow together!

Future Trends in B2B Influencer Marketing to Watch

  1. Increased Use of AI and Machine Learning: These technologies are shaping how we identify and collaborate with influencers, making processes more efficient and targeted.
  2. Viral and Augmented Reality: As these technologies become more mainstream, they will revolutionize how we experience and interact with B2B products and services.
  3. Focus on Long-Term Partnerships: Building long term relationships with influencers is becoming more common as businesses recognize the value of ongoing collaborations over one-off posts.
  4. Rise of B2B Influencer Platforms: As brands begin to work with more influencers and influencers work with more brands, the need to properly manage, measure and scale programs is reaching a critical level. Keep an eye on new innovative platforms to help you increase efficiencies, measure and optimize results as well as more easily build relationships with influencers and anyone in your influencer marketing ecosystem.

  5. Rise of the B2B Influencer: As the digital world gets even more noisy and crowded – and as AI makes it easier for anyone and everyone to create content, the value of a high caliber B2B Influencer is going to increase quickly. Start building your relationships now as they are going to be able to charge top dollar as the demand from brands grows.

  6. Greater Emphasis on Authenticity and Transparency: This has always been a key requirement in my world of marketing since I took my first marketing course in high school many years ago. However, FINALLY more brands and marketing leaders are starting to understand the value of being authentic and more transparent as they work with influencers. Don't hide data or your real agenda from B2B influencers or any influencer. They often have research skills almost as good as the CIA and they will know quickly if you are being dishonest. Your customers want to connect with the soul of your brand and your partners, not a fake, brand story nobody in your company knows or believes. Be real. Be you!
  7. Brands paying for promotion / advertising of an influencer's content (example: A brand paying for a LinkedIn advertisement for an influencer's post such as a traditional post, carousel, video, live event )

B2B influencer marketing offers a unique opportunity to build meaningful partnerships that can lead to positive business outcomes. By following the B2B marketing strategies outlined in this article, including staying on top of future trends, you can ignite your brand's visibility, authority, credibility and profitability.

And the best part is, if you choose the right influencers you can build an authentic and powerful community that will outlive any social network algorithm. Boom! 💥

Remember, you can never go wrong with investing in communities and the human beings within them!

Inspire – Connect – Achieve! When we inspire our audiences to connect with us with a goal of helping them achieve their objectives, we achieve our objectives by default because they are the same! 🧡

This is the first in my new B2B Influencer Marketing Series. Next I'll be diving into the future trends and how to best leverage AI and also protect yourself when working with influencers who are using AI to create content.

Ignite Your B2B Influencer Marketing Program!

Connect with me today to personalize your approach and begin transforming your business's influencer marketing strategy and results! 🚀

Subscribe to the series -> “Mind and Machine” and build Your Limitless Digital Mindset!

Be sure to also check out my AI series “Mind and Machine designed to help you Unleash the Human-AI Revolution for your business. It's time to unleash the power of technology and positive disruption to ignite human performance and business results. In this series we will explore the powerful partnership of Humans and Machines. Subscribe here-> Mind and Machine The series will include webinars, podcasts, free resources, events, special guests and more!

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