In part 2 of this series on practical approaches to customer acquisition & business growth for SMEs & Startups, we’ll take a look at “Influencer Marketing”.
(In case you missed Part 1 on advocacy marketing, you can find it here.)
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is where leaders and experts in your niche or industry promote and endorse your company and its offerings. It’s an effective way to boost and promote your company authentically.
Why is Influencer Marketing important?
When B2B buyers are researching a purchase, they look for more than just product and service details. They want a real connection with the companies with providing the products and services.
However, when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, the sources they turn to after searching online are peers, colleagues and industry experts. Carefully selected influencers can provide the relevancy, trust and authenticity buyers are looking for.
The two types of influencers for B2B startups and SMEs
Startups and SMEs should look for two types of influencers as part of their marketing strategy.
1. The Independent Influencer
This is someone who specialises in an area and has built an audience around his or her personal brand and expertise without any links to a specific company. These individuals have a significant audience/following on social media – at least 2000 but usually tens of thousands. They are also willing to work with companies in their specialty area.
2. The Micro-Influencer
Also referred to by some as the nano-influencer. These people also focus on a specific area of knowledge. However, they tend to have a small to moderate audience/following (often between several hundred up to 2000 people.) Given their smaller following, micro-influencers may be more willing to work with your startup or SME on mutually beneficial endeavours.
Benefits of influencers
Influencers can help drive the growth of your startup or SME by:
- Raising your company’s profile
- Providing access to a specific audience for a product or service launch
- Helping you and your company establish expertise in a specialisation
- Helping your company establish its presence in a new industry or market
How to identify influencers
It takes time and effort to identify the right influencers for both your startup or SME and its specific areas of specialisation.
The best way to start is by searching online using relevant keywords. There are also tools you can use such as Followerwonk. Once you have identified a list of potential influencers, research their thought leadership content (such as their articles, blogs and podcasts) to:
- Understand their point of view and perspective on their areas of expertise
- Get to know them in terms of their personality and how they want to engage
This research is very important as the next step will be to contact them.
Building a relationship with influencers takes time and effort. You will likely begin by contacting them online. However, you may also need some face-to-face interaction to cultivate and build the relationship. (As the saying goes, people like to do business with those they Know, Like and Trust. Engaging face-to-face is the best way to achieve this!
As develop a relationship and rapport with an influencer, think about how you can make it mutually beneficial
Need help determining the right strategy for your business?
How to work with influencers
Alex Tachalova outlines 4 strategies in her article, “B2B Influencer Marketing: 4 Strategies that Move the Needle”. These are “win-win” strategies as they create value for both you and the influencer. The 4 strategies are as follows:
1. Partner with industry experts to co-create content
- Adds instant credibility to your content and provides a natural distribution network
- Enables you to bring new insights and perspective to that audience helping you to establish you as an authority
- Enables the influencer to connect with a new audience
Some ways of co-creating content include:
- Case studies
- Live stream of discussion on Facebook
2. Turn loyal big-name influential clients into brand ambassadors
- Builds word of mouth referrals
- Further increases your company’s credibility and creates the buyer appeal needed for you to acquire more big clients/customers
How Do You Get Clients to be Brand Ambassadors?
Leverage advocacy marketing tactics such as referral and references discussed in part 1 of this article.
In her article, Alex also suggests establishing Closed Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that are made available only to a handful of your clients and customers.
3. Organise face-to-face events to develop relationships
- Builds brand awareness
- Creates personal connections needed to execute influencer strategies
- Provides another means for influencers to expand their reach
Examples of such events include Closed VIP events such as Decision Maker Summits whereby B2B buyers are brought together to discuss issues, challenges. You can also feature the influencer as a guest speaker to provide insights and perspective on key topics and challenges relevant in that niche/industry.
4. Keep hunting for new influencers
- Grows your network of potential influencers and opens the door to new or expanded strategies
Some ways of finding new influencers include:
- Promote influencers content on social media channels
- Link to experts’ content on their site
- Create round up posts based on feedback from
Does Influencer Marketing Really Work?
Influencer marketing campaigns earn $6.50 for every $1 spent!
Get started now!
Work with your teams to and commence planning how your startup or SME would implement an influencer marketing program by considering the following:
- What would be the goals for using influencers?
- Who could be potential influencers that your startup or SME could work with?
- Review your current LinkedIn contacts, colleagues and business networks
- Conduct research online using keywords pertaining to your industry or niche
- What will be your initial “plan of attack” to establish contact and engage with the potential influencers you have identified?
- Which of the 4 strategies will you execute as part of working with the influencer?
- Hint: Suggest you start small by creating a short piece of content such as an interview, article or case study
Did you find this article helpful?
About Michael Haynes
B2B Customer Acquisition & Growth Strategy Consultant
For over 20 years, Michael has worked with micro-businesses to large corporates alike across Australia and Canada, developing and implementing business growth strategies and programs.