Change3 Enterprises LLC

Just Tell the Story: How to Effectively Use Influencers in B2B Marketing

OR Reinventing the Way Stories are Told

Written by Leslie Reiser on September 5, 2017.

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Did you read Kneko Burney’s recent blog article where she discussed why Sellers no longer find credible the leads given to them by their Marketing colleagues? Kneko pointed out that while Content Marketing is still ‘in vogue’, without a linkage to a lead generation program, even the best-produced content will fail at engaging clients and generating opportunities for your sales force.

 

Let’s face it, the client landscape has changed and marketers are under increasing pressure to adapt evolving and often fickle customer preferences while figuring out how best to connect with their audiences to keep the brand front and center and entice engagement. Not surprisingly, more than any other group, Millennials are proving to be a challenging market segment. Marketers need to stretch their creativity to reach and resonate with this group of emerging decision makers.

 

Buyers are saying "no" to 'interruptive' advertising

 

There’s another factor we need to consider. Advertising effectiveness – including ad buys online, has dropped dramatically, resulting in renewed interest in specialized content. With a growth in ad blocking, buyers are saying no to ‘interruptive’ advertising.  What an opportunity for marketing departments to create positive and helpful experiences that doesn’t add to the people’s already stressful lives! Creative marketers who focus on IT-decision makers will have an edge of their competitors if they can discover new ways in which buyers discover, read, and share interesting information.

 

Anyone in the business of producing content has seen the early signs of a massive transformation taking place in how people discover, consume, and share information.

 

In his article entitled “Fall of the Banner Ad: The Monster That Swallowed the Web,” The Times tech reporter, Farhad Manjoo, writes: :“[Banner ads] have ruined the appearance and usability of the web, covering every available pixel of every page with clunky bits of sponsorship. More than that, banner ads have perverted the content itself.”

 

Banner ads have ruined the usability of the web

 

Ad blocker usage surged 30% in 2016, according to a new report from PageFair 

 

 

 

 

This trend has forced brands and industry publishers to re-think how to build trust with their readers - - authenticity is still the name of the game. Successful brands don’t establish trust through continuous display advertising, instead, they demonstrate it by using continuous and captivating storytelling produced and delivered through credible, authentic, authority sources.

 

So it would seem that the goal for any marketing organization should be to develop content that will be seen as valuable and break through the content clutter with a purpose. Successful B2B brands like ADP, Cisco, Boeing, Salesforce, (and in the consumer space, REI, Patagonia, Soul Cycle, and Warby Parker) are doing just that.

 

These companies are shifting away from the practice of merely using generic social media content to support their products to a more targeted and purposeful approach where every appropriate and available influencer channel is used to tell stories that reflect the personality of the brand, tailored to that channel. Every appropriate and available influencer channel is used to tell stories that reflect the personality of the brand, tailored to that channel.

 

Producing content - without a strategic purpose ~ kills your marketing budget

 

Tech companies often see the value of generic content marketing, but don’t know how to find and leverage effective storytellers into sharing experiences that clients can relate to.  Merely producing content for content’s sake – without a strategic purpose - is not effective and kills your precious marketing budget.

 

84% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral

 

So Why Use Influencers to Tell Your Stories?

 

  • In its 2016 study, The Content Marketing Institute cites this statistic, “Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. Effectiveness levels are greater among respondents with documentation, clarity around success, good communication, and experience.”
  • 84% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral. (LinkedIn)

 

Are you convinced? Yet, it’s important to note that when embarking on this journey many marketers fail. Why is that? Companies that leverage individuals with a lot of followers  - converting cash to awareness and hoping for influence - is a bad approach.  First off, it’s not measurable and secondly, those individuals lack authority and credibility, the two critical components of true, influencer marketing. By contrast, a better approach is to seek out only individuals whose sphere of influence is well regarded and whose reputation stands on its own merit.

 

To help you, follow these (4) steps:

 

4 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Using Influencers To Promote Your ‘Brand’

 

1. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with a small group of influencers (6-10) that have relatively few followers but high engagement rates. To do this find well shared content that is highly relevant to your area.

  • Seek out industry champions who will retain their inherent integrity because they are viewed as true experts in, for example, workloads, infrastructure or cloud computing - - even though you may be compensating them.
  • Just like a salesperson will be more successful with someone who he has already forged a relationship (than with someone who he just cold called), influencer relationships should be built with care, personal attention, and mutual respect. So while you may pay an influencer for his participation and writing expertise, that monetary exchange occurs within the larger context of the larger relationship.

 

2. DELIVER VALUABLE INFORMATION

  • Sharing something of value for the audience is more worthwhile then a meaningless endorsement - - in spite of the perceived ‘star power’ of the influencer. Whether that takes the form of educational enrichment, a ‘how to guide’, information on making someone’s job easier, pitfalls to avoid….etc., the content imparted must have an intrinsic value to the reader.
  • Providing that information in an entertaining and enjoyable way - - one that not only delights the viewer but also encourages engagement, is the secret sauce. Tell the story!

 

3. IDENTIFY AND ON-BOARD REAL SMES

  • This isn’t a popularity contest. A true influencer may not have the largest network of followers but instead is well regarded in the industry by being credible, authoritative, and authentic.
  • He/she produces content that has ‘share-ability’ - - because it’s both presented in a consumable format and helps the viewer in some fashion.  

 

4. PUT MEASURABLE CONTENT IN YOUR STORIES

  • Set goals and specify the action you want your reader to take from consuming this content. This could be complete a short survey, download an e-book, take a three question poll – or the Holy Grail – contact a sales representative!
  • Ensure that every clickable action is trackable and attributed back to the author. Simple ways to achieve this can be accomplished by setting up a microsite or landing page to divert traffic to. In this way you can measure the exact ROI on this campaign component.

 

There's nothing better than getting lost in a good story

 

The advent of the digital age has transformed the way content is produced, stories are told, and information is shared. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good story - - an immersive, experience rooted in authenticity to share with your prospects and clients. With the obvious link between storytelling and social sharing, it should be a foundational element of any company’s marketing strategy. 


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