There are very few B2B markers out there without a content marketing strategy. But there are surprisingly few with an influencer relations strategy designed to make the best of their content outside of their organisation’s owned channels. A recent study on Inc.com suggests having an effective influencer relations strategy was on the radar for as many as 84 per cent of all marketers in 2017. So what is it?
Put simply, influencer relations is about developing and managing relationships with individuals deemed influential amongst an organisation’s buying audience. These might be bloggers, industry analysts, consultants, trade association representatives – the list is potentially endless.
As a tech PR agency, our experience running insight and content marketing campaigns tells us that influencer relations needs to be done with laser precision in order to attract the right influencers.
But getting in front of the right influencers to impact overall sales and marketing strategy is tough. How can an agency or influencer marketing specialist help you? What techniques might benefit you the most? And how to do it effectively?
Let’s take a look.
- If content is king, delivery is queen
It all starts with – you guessed it – understanding your audience. Who are they? Who do they talk to when considering purchases? What channels do they use?
Answering these questions in B2B has historically been quite tricky. While our B2C cousins are wallowing in audience insight, it’s harder to come by in B2B circles – to the point where CCgroup conducted its own. We’ve looked into enterprise technology buyers, retail bank technology buyers, capital markets, telecoms etc and made all of this available free of charge.
Understanding who you are targeting will define who your influencers are, and on what channels you will find them. Then it’s a question of doing the hard yards in identifying your most influential targets, and understanding how best to engage with them to get your content and message out beyond your owned channels. This may require payment, co-creation of content, early access to insight, access to customers etc.
- Get to the point, quickly
The one mistake many B2B providers make is that they fail to distil their key messages down. Ideally, any company, of either B2B or B2C persuasion should be able to ‘elevator pitch’ an influencer.
Tell them in no more than three sentences what problem you solve, why it’s relevant to them and their audience, and how you’d like to work with them.
- Don’t leave your influencers wanting – create a solid content generation waterfall process
Really, it doesn’t matter what tools you use, whether it’s Paid/ Earned/ Shared/ or Owned content or influencer outreach. What’s important is being aware of what content goes to which channels.
Map out your planned content well-ahead of time to the channels that you think will be your influencer’s priorities, so you will catch their eye, and ensure they are the priorities for distribution to ensure it is in the right format. Engage them in the process – influencers will often, understandably, want a hand in developing the content they share with their audiences.
Also ensure that the cadence of your ‘waterfall’ approach is a steady rate or ‘flow’ of content. Don’t drip feed bit by bit, but ensure there is a wider strategy at play, and you are seeding content on a near-constant basis, based on your editorial calendar, but also based on what and when you are appearing at external trade shows, and events.
- Ask for and agree next steps – after each meeting
Whether you are meeting an industry analyst, trade body head, or management consultant who could have a credible impact on your business, the single biggest mistake I see companies make time again, is that they do not have a plan in place for what to do when the meeting ends.
Assign a single stakeholder from the organisation whose responsibility it is to collate and assign members of the “Influencer Strategy” team, who can make it their purpose to re-contact, keep the influencer engaged, and warmed up as a prospect or potential collaborator.
- Ease into wider campaign structure: influencer marketing is two-way
Like with everything else, planning is everything. Having precise influencer mapping and influencer relations strategies with content plans that directly connects to influencers is important.
If you have a planning process to identify your buyers, consider the topics that matter most to them and their channels of influence. This should define your internal content delivery flow and editorial calendar, then you find you can lean on it to capture future opportunities.
Whether they are an industry or tech analyst, CEO of a prospective partner, or the head of a channel sales organisation in your sphere of influence, they should all be handled slightly differently.
It’s worth remembering always that it should never be a one-size-fits all approach.