9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

Top marketers understand the value of integrating influencer marketing into their marketing strategy. In fact, 55% of marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing according to an Influencer Marketing Hub survey. For B2B brands, influencer marketing is a way to partner with industry experts who can add value to the brand’s content. As…

9IMTipsImageB600w - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

Top marketers understand the value of integrating influencer marketing into their marketing strategy. In fact, 55% of marketers believe they get better customers from influencer marketing according to an Influencer Marketing Hub survey. For B2B brands, influencer marketing is a way to partner with industry experts who can add value to the brand’s content.

As a brand, how can you provide mutual value and a great experience for the thought leaders you engage?

I went straight to some of my top sources to ask their thoughts on the best way for B2B brands to collaborate with them. What stood out to me, was the way their key points aligned with how a brand might develop a marketing strategy.

Let’s start with understanding who your audience is and who they follow. Most B2B brands have personas created for their customers. Now think about how you can mirror those customer personas to align with those authentic thought leaders who you’re looking to engage with.

1 — Tim Crawford: Authenticity is Key

TimCrawford300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

When I want to understand CIOs, I call Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor at AVOA, who has worked with nearly all of the top B2B tech brands. Tim asserts that by knowing the persona you are going after, you can ensure your messaging, and that the approach has authenticity. He also reminded me that opinion doesn’t replace experience, and Tim has plenty of valuable experience.

The value of authentic experience stands out to your audience. It is not merely opinion, but proven knowledge. “Consider the personas to target and leverage voices that bring authenticity to the messaging which will, in turn, build trust with customers,” Tim says.

“Consider the personas to target and leverage voices that bring authenticity to the messaging which will, in turn, build trust with customers.” — Tim Crawford @tcrawford Click To Tweet

2 —Ramon Ray: Seek Influencer Excitement

RamonRay300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

Entrepreneur, keynote speaker, bestselling author and editor and founder of Smart Hustle Magazine Ramon Ray encourages brands to, “Look to work for influencers that are excited to work with you and your product or service.”

When it comes to excitement, Ramon’s comes shining through. In an interview we partnered with him on for Dell Outlet*, his smile and enthusiasm were felt even with just audio.

“Look to work for influencers that are excited to work with you and your product or service.” — Ramon Ray @ramonray Click To Tweet

3 — Helen Yu: Let Your B2B Brand’s Values Shine

HelenYu300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

What does your brand stand for? What value do you bring to your customers? “It is important for B2B brands to crystallize what their brands stand for, whom their target audiences are and how they would measure the success prior to engaging B2B influencers,” says Helen Yu of Tigon Advisory Corp. She advises finding influencers who represent the organization’s values and who can contribute to sustainable business growth.

Helen also encourages brands to share their value proposition with thought leaders to help them focus their efforts in the right direction for amplifying the brand’s vision.

“To make the engagement more productive, I recommend that brands think about how they would describe their value in 3 words. Influencers can then focus on how we deliver the work reflecting and amplifying their value.” — Helen Yu @YuHelenYu Click To Tweet

You have a strategic marketing plan. Does that plan have influencer marketing as a tactic? If so, then be sure to include an engagement plan for any work with influencers. More than one influencer has told me stories of being asked to participate in an event — online or in person — only to find that there was not an actionable plan to bring the partnership to life, or if there was, it was delivered to the influencer at the last minute.

4 — Tamara McCleary: Focus & Specificity

TamaraMcCleary300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

Keynote speaker and Thulium CEO Tamara McCleary recommends that you “Have a plan for your influencers. Do you know what you want your influencers to do? Do you have a clear strategy for utilizing them? One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when bringing in influencers is a lack of focus and specificity.”

“One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when bringing in influencers is a lack of focus and specificity.” — Tamara McCleary @TamaraMcCleary Click To Tweet

5 — Ian Moyse: Empowering Influencers

IanMoyse300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

Ian Moyse, cloud social influencer for a range of global brands commented, “Come to an influencer with a clear brief and clear budget offering. Brief them and provide good supporting info and links to empower them to do a good job for you. Provide them imagery, #hashtags, and @handles upfront to use. Where possible create images for the influencer such as quote cards with their photo, and share and engage with the influencers content from your corporate brand account, and encourage your staff to do the same.”

“Brief influencers and provide good supporting information to empower them to do a good job for you.” — Ian Moyse @imoyse Click To Tweet

6 — Michael Fisher, Jr.: Better Communication Avoids Confusion

MichaelFisher300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

Michael Fisher, Jr., senior systems analyst at Whitcraft Group, cyber security consultant and technology evangelist, confirms good communication is key.

“My one top tip would be overall good communication around the program, which may include meetings, PowerPoint slides and a schedule. Without good communication [the partnership] may lead to confusion and overall less productivity,” says Michael.

“My one top tip would be overall good communication around the program. Without good communication the partnership may lead to confusion and overall less productivity.” — Michael Fisher, Jr. @Fisher85M Click To Tweet

7 —Dan Gingiss: Give Audiences the Answers they Crave

DanGingiss300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

Chief Experience Officer at The Experience Maker LLC and CX thought leader Dan Gingiss encourages brands to engage influencers to elevate their customer experience.

“By giving influencers the platform to engage with your audience, you can facilitate great customer experiences by providing the answers your audience craves,” Dan shared.

Influencers allow you to add credibility to your brand’s point of view (POV), move prospects down the purchase funnel, and support customers in successfully deploying your product or service — all in a way that builds community and facilitates open conversations.

It’s important to keep in mind who you’re engaging and consider their primary business goals. “Remember that influencers are often solopreneurs who are trying to build or grow their own business. So while they may be willing to help you grow your business too, ultimately they have to do what’s right for their own business first. Their personal brand is their livelihood, so be careful asking for the moon and offering nothing in return,” said Dan.

He reminds B2B brands that “The best influencer programs highlight an authentic relationship between the influencer and the brand, and the best way to accomplish that is to ensure a mutually beneficial program.”

“The best influencer programs highlight an authentic relationship between the influencer and the brand, and the best way to accomplish that is to ensure a mutually beneficial program.” — Dan Ginigiss @dgingiss Click To Tweet

8 — Shonali Burke: Be Prepared & Specific

ShonaliBurke300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

How you approach an influencer can set the tone for the relationship. As someone who has been on both sides of the table as a consultant looking to engage influencers and as a sought-after thought leader on digital strategy, brand elevation and analytics, Shonali Burke, President and CEO of Shonali Burke Burke Consulting, Inc. shared a great messaging tip.  “If, as a brand, you’re looking to work with influencers, you will almost always get a response if, in your very first communication, you lead with a very specific ask, which shows at least equal benefit to them as to you,” she advises.

Shonali expands on such an approach, “This shows that a) you’ve done your research; and b) that you really understand what ‘influencer’ marketing is about. Simply asking for a call or meeting ‘to introduce ourselves to you’ is unlikely to work; (that’s what the internet is for). But if you have a really specific ask, e.g. you think they’d be a great potential speaker, etc., you’re almost guaranteed to get a response — as opposed to… crickets.”

“If, as a brand, you’re looking to work with influencers, you will almost always get a response if, in your very first communication, you lead with a very specific ask, which shows at least equal benefit to them as to you.” @shonali Click To Tweet

Of course you measure the success of your campaigns. But have you thought of sharing that with your partners? “If you’re not sure what to do, ask. Many influencers have years of experience in serving the needs of B2B brands,” says Ramon.

Ramon invites B2B brands to “Know what your measure of success is and share this with the influencer.”

“Know what your measure of success is and share this with the influencer.” — Ramon Ray @ramonray Click To Tweet

While it can be easy to do a flashy one-time campaign, B2B brands with the most success build brand awareness with a community of influencers who they trust and build strong relationships with over time. Tamara McCleary advises, “Think long-term. It’s important to look at an influencer program as a long-term relationship-building program. A long-term program will allow your brand to create true brand advocates, powerful brand evangelists, and raving fans.”

“A long-term influencer program will allow your brand to create true brand advocates, powerful brand evangelists, and raving fans.” — Tamara McCleary @TamaraMcCleary Click To Tweet

9 — Lee Odden: Ongoing Influence

LeeOdden300x300 - 9 Top Brand Marketing Tips from B2B Influencers

The TopRank Marketing blog has a new Always On Influence series exploring lasting relationships with influencers. These lasting relationships can be a foundation to grow in the years ahead.

“Relationships take time and that means influencer engagement is an ongoing effort, not just when influencers are needed to provide content or promotion.” — Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing CEO @leeodden Click To Tweet

B2B Influencer Relations Tips

I’m not an influencer, but I have learned the best way to work with anyone is to have a conversation with them upfront. Then keep the conversation going to drive the best collaboration and create successful outcomes for your brand.

I appreciate the candor and openness of these amazing leaders, who continue to allow me to have an ongoing conversation with them.

Remember these key tips top B2B thought leaders shared for building successful relationships and campaigns:

  • Be Authentic
  • Align influencers with your audience personas
  • Find influencers who are excited to work with your brand
  • Share your brand values and value proposition
  • Have a specific ask upfront
  • Have a plan and brief the influencers
  • Create great experiences
  • Share how you want to measure success
  • Build a lasting relationship

Are you ready to take the leap to the next level of influencer marketing? Learn more about always on influencer marketing or contact us today.

* Dell Outlet is a TopRank Marketing client.

3 Tools to Help You Build a Strong Website and Brand

July 7, 2020 4 min read This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Emily L’Ami launched her brand’s website the old-fashioned way: She paid an agency $10,000 to make it. But the result was underwhelming —­ and that was a problem. Her company, a therapeutic-­perfume startup called Bodha, was taking…


4 min read

This story appears in the
July 2020

issue of
Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

1593108190 TP LOQ BODHA 01 - 3 Tools to Help You Build a Strong Website and BrandEmily L’Ami launched her brand’s website the old-fashioned way: She paid an agency $10,000 to make it. But the result was underwhelming —­ and that was a problem. Her company, a therapeutic-­perfume startup called Bodha, was taking off. She needed an upgrade.

So even though she’s not technically inclined, L’Ami tried to build a site herself using Squarespace. “I gave myself two days,” she says. “I decided, I’m going to stick with it and figure it out.” The result: Bodha.com is a stunner — original photos, integrations with social media, contact forms, and the all-important shopping cart. Now it draws about 12,000 page views per month and is a significant driver of sales to her business.

Success stories like these are now common for website builders like Squarespace, Wix, and GoDaddy. Years ago, they all offered basic services — designing a simple site, registering a domain, and so on. But they’ve since evolved into comprehensive business tools, featuring things like a full-featured shopping portal, SEO assistance, a CRM, live-chat functionality, and much more. Starting this year, they’ll even help businesses do marketing and promotions.

Related: 3 Branding Tips to Bring Your Startup’s Story to Life

Scott Frankum, a web design expert, says it’s now possible for any entrepreneur to build complex sites using modern builders. Wix’s new product, called Editor X, even supports font scaling, grid layouts, a full improved blog platform with SEO, and advanced responsive design (which automatically adjusts to screen size, user behavior, and operating system).

“Sites used to be flat brochures,” he says. “Now they can handle business processes, provide help desk support, and link to customer relationship management data.” Another example: With GoDaddy’s product Websites + Marketing, a wizard lets you optimize and insert search terms on your home page for better Google results, and you can enable site-wide Google ads

With Squarespace, you can run email campaigns, and web visitors can sign up for events. A brand-new feature shows your Instagram page on your website — which L’Ami loves.

What’s next for modern website builders? Natasa Djukanovic, the CMO of top-level domain company Domain.Me, says the builders will likely adopt emerging trends. This might include skeuomorphism (mimicking real-world objects) and neomorphism (dark and light shadows). Content marketing — ­­a way to draw in new visitors — will evolve using long-tail keywords for niche markets. She does offer a warning, though. “It’s important to follow trends that feel right for your brand rather than just implement trends for the sake of popularity,” she advises.

Related: 5 Proven Ways to Keep Visitors on Your Website

Frankum says website builders will add more features for business process automation — like what to do if a visitor needs sales or support help but doesn’t want to talk to anyone. They may offer mobile text marketing over Bluetooth, and much more. But for L’Ami, her next move might feel straight out of the year 2000: She’s thinking of adding a CRM. No problem — these services have that, too.

Test Me: We built a site on each platform. Here’s how it went.

1593107831 ent20 julyaug website squarespace - 3 Tools to Help You Build a Strong Website and Brand

SQUARESPACE

Price: $18 a month for business plan

Best feature: Integrating Instagram content onto your actual site

Our review: Design templates are better than average. Our test site has a spacious, friendly look with plenty of white space.

1593107849 ent20 julyaug website godaddy - 3 Tools to Help You Build a Strong Website and Brand

GoDaddy

Websites + Marketing

Price: Starts at $10 a month

Best feature: Inserting SEO terms on your home page and in blog posts

Our review/ The tools are all intuitive and powerful. One ding: You can’t assign blog posts to a specific author.

1593107864 ent20 julyaug website wix - 3 Tools to Help You Build a Strong Website and Brand

Wix Editor X

Price: TBD 

Best feature: Responsive design improves the site on any screen

Our review: The interface is easy and well-designed, but some of the advanced features for responsive design might require some training.

loading…

5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

B2B marketing is swiftly embracing techniques that were once only for B2C, and we’ve got five smart B2C tactics to add to your B2B plans for 2020 and well beyond. Influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting are just some of the ways that today’s savvy B2B marketers can add a healthy…

B2CTacticsForB2BImageB600w - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

B2B marketing is swiftly embracing techniques that were once only for B2C, and we’ve got five smart B2C tactics to add to your B2B plans for 2020 and well beyond.

Influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting are just some of the ways that today’s savvy B2B marketers can add a healthy dose of the B2C experience to your business marketing efforts.

#1 – Influencer Marketing

JumpingBusinessmanImage600w - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

Even though influencer marketing is still largely associated with the B2C world, you’ve likely noticed that it’s being increasingly used by smart marketers as a highly successful go-to B2B tactic.

Influencer marketing has already accounted for over $2 billion in annual marketing spending in the U.S. alone, and annual growth rates are predicted to from 41 percent all the way to 95 percent. (AdAge)

InfluencerMarketingHubChart600w - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

B2C influencer marketing has relied heavily on celebrity influencers, a combination that has faced a growing backlash and played a part in diminishing trust in marketing.

B2B influencer marketing, on the other hand, incorporates industry experts who have a genuine two-way relationship with a brand, a partnership that respectfully serves both parties equally well, and boosts trust.

While influencer marketing may have had its ups and downs in the B2C landscape, influencers in the B2B world may just be a perfect match.

“Invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies.” @AmishaGandhi Click To Tweet

Amisha Gandhi is vice president of influencer marketing and communications at SAP*, and she recently shared her B2B influencer marketing insights in one of our new Break Free B2B video interviews, including creative and fun ways that add sizzle and build brand credibility.

Watch and learn from Amisha in “Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing.”

If you don’t tie your influencer marketing to business objectives, you can quickly lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish. @Konstanze Click To Tweet

Konstanze Alex of Dell* is another leader in B2B influencer marketing, and along with Amisha and Dell’s Janine Wegner at the most recent MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference, she explored some of the latest trends shaping influencer marketing, in “Tales from the B2B Influencer Marketing Trenches with Leaders from Dell & SAP #MPB2B.

“Influencer marketing presents an opportunity to tap into the established credibility and connections that people in your industry or niche already have with their own audiences.” @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

Our own senior content strategist Nick Nelson and senior director of digital strategy Ashley Zeckman have also explored the subtle nuances of B2B influencer marketing, taking “A Journey Through Always-On Influencer Marketing with Ashley Zeckman #MPB2B.”

We pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long-term relationships with our influencers … which means we are always looking to establish a ‘give to get’ exchange where all parties come out ahead. @ranimani0707 @adobe Click To Tweet

Rani Mani, head of social influencer enablement at Adobe* is another leading B2B influencer marketing expert, and she has shared a number of her unique insights in “B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Rani Mani, Adobe.”

Trust in marketing has been a growing concern among marketers — one that B2B influencer marketing is squarely seeking to improve —  and here are five of our most recent articles that explore how marketers can build greater trust:

#2 – Engaging Interactive Content

InteractiveContentImage600w - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

B2C brands have spent heavily on bringing consumers engaging interactive online content as a major part of many marketing campaigns.

As the B2B landscape continues to speedily depart from its dusty Boring-To-Boring roots, business customers are expecting content and experiences that are increasingly similar to what B2C efforts have long provided, and engaging interactive experiences exemplify the type of content B2B firms need to offer if they wish to successfully compete.

What could be less interactive or engaging than a hundred-plus page purely text industry white paper?

Today’s B2B customers expect to have access to all of the relevant information that white paper contained, but brought to life through an online interface that’s not only easy to search and navigate, but also chock full of user experience features that make interacting an entertaining experience.

“You may need to take baby steps with your audience to get them warmed up to the idea of interactivity.” — Caitlin Burgess @CaitlinMBurgess Click To Tweet

Engaging and interactive content marketing is a subject near and dear to our hearts at TopRank Marketing, and here are five of the most recent pieces we’ve published to help you learn more about building your own:

#3 – Awards & Best-Of Pages

SunnyLakeImage600w - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

As B2B efforts become more like those in B2C, business marketers are increasingly looking for places to showcase their best work, and industry awards events can be a powerful way to share and celebrate cutting-edge work.

Whether it’s physical red carpet award programs where industry professionals gather to honor the top B2B marketing work, or purely digital events that show off lists of winning campaigns, the benefits of highlighting great B2B marketing efforts can be far-reaching.

LinkedIn* recently announced the winners of its “Best of LinkedIn Pages 2019,” taken from submissions to its annual contest — a list that shows how building great content can lead to widespread industry  recognition.

We’ve examined the power of award-winning content in the following articles, including several examples from the Cannes Lions event:

#4 – Chatbots & AI-Infused Customer Interaction

ChatbotImage600w - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

B2C companies were some of the first to actively offer chatbots to consumers, however there’s been swift adoption in the B2B world, and with studies showing that people like interacting with powerful chatbots when they can quickly get the answers they seek, more B2B organizations are likely to begin using chatbot technology in 2020 and beyond.

2019February22StatisticImage - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

For a deeper look at how chatbots, artificial intelligence, plus augmented and virtual reality can work to your B2B marketing advantage, here are five recent articles we’ve published:

#5 – Podcasting

PodcastingWomenImage600w - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

Just a few years ago the idea of podcasting in a B2B context would likely have been seen as preposterous by most business consumers.

Now however, as podcasting’s popularity has skyrocketed in general — over 62 percent of podcast listeners say they listen to more now than a year ago — more B2B firms than ever are either starting their own or studying how to do so in the near future.

B2B podcasting is ripe for business marketers, with some 13 million households already including avid fans of business podcasts, and 52 million households including casual fans of business podcasts, according to Nielsen podcasting data.

Our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite recently made the case for B2B marketers to take a serious look at podcasting, and presented “B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case.”

“B2B marketers who are creating any kind of audio content should consider podcasting as a channel to earn attention, deeply engage an audience, and ultimately drive measurable business results.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

When it comes to B2B podcasting, making the leap from consideration to implementation can be a hurdle, however Josh has written an insightful guide to help marketers with the process, in “10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild.”

More B2B podcasting help and examples of top marketing podcasts can be found here:

A Brighter B2B Future For 2020 and Beyond

As we’ve explored, by using influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting, B2B marketers can add new life to once-stale campaigns, and we hope that 2020 brings you an abundance of B2B marketing advancements to be thankful for.

* Dell, SAP, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing client.

loading - 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B BrandLoading…