Why B2B influencers provide more brand value than consumer trend-setters
Influencers promoting products to consumers are now a staple of the marketing mix. They’re trend-setters in a world determined to stay culturally relevant, driving appeal and popularity across swathes of society. James Baldwin, influence director at Ogilvy UK, considers their worth today and suggests ways marketers can embed their use into their brand strategy.
Ogilvy on the rise of the influencer economy / Gian Cescon via Unsplash
An opportunity still drastically under-utilized (and even unnoticed) by brand teams everywhere is the value influencers can bring to business operations behind the scenes, strategically using influencers to facilitate business relationships, drive key commercial growth and even improve employee satisfaction; elements that together oil the entire brand ecosystem and drive long-term commercial strength.
Some of the smartest brands we work with have started to notice how utilizing influencers across integrated activities at a business level is adding more intrinsic value than short-term sales bumps at the consumer level. Influencers are no longer setting trends for consumers; they are building empires for businesses. The strategic use of B2B influencers is set to provide the biggest value-add the influencer economy has presented us yet.
B2B influencer marketing has the potential to generate $11.7bn in revenue by the end of 2022, so it’s not new. The problem is businesses aren’t using it effectively. A 2022 study shows just 38% of B2B companies are currently exploring influencer marketing, and only 15% of executives feel they are utilizing business influencers well.
Here in lies the problem...
When businesses think about influencers, they think of one-off endorsements or sales-driving content marketing, but customers see through inauthenticity; it is basic and short-term. We know 90% of today’s audience don’t trust brand messages on their own.
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, business growth relies on much more than sales. You need:
An ambition and purpose that delivers benefit to your community;
A motivated workforce that believes in its values;
A multi-channel marketing system and partners to reach target prospects;
not to mention a reputable product/service that works
... to name but a few.
So why are so many companies still only using influencers for sales messages, when influencers can be used for all of the points mentioned above?
The smart play now is seeing some of our big brands integrate influencers across their full ecosystems from the very foundation, not just for customer content but for partner communications, employee satisfaction, reputation management, product feedback, customer support and much more.
Weaving real credibility into the fabric of both external and internal-facing brand comms through reputable business influencers builds a highly-motivated platform of trust among customers and employees, driving exponential growth.
Here’s four thoughts on how brands can realize the exponential value of business influencers that will capture customer and employee loyalty alike, along with their marketing budgets...
1. Build a community of support, emphasizing storytelling and education
We know customers want authentic, experience-based value from their brand relationships. Create story-telling content around real people that shows how it supports its community. Supplement that with real educational value and information through B2B influencers that customers can implement in their business decisions immediately. That real value is what holds attention, creates loyalty and ultimately starts to build your community long-term.
2. Think bigger than organic influencer content – integrate
Influencers should not be one-off organic sales drivers – especially in a business where specialisms are niche. Influencers should feature in brand content, lead community support and speak on your behalf across PR, as well as push their content through sales partners and paid media, internally and externally. Their authentic message is too strong and valuable to be wasted on just organic.
3. Influencers sweeten relationships with your a) partners and b) employees
Influencers can play a huge role in strengthening relationships that are integral for growth:
In B2B sales your resellers play an integral role in driving more awareness and more revenue than any one-off sale. Making bespoke content and even facilitating meet-and-greets for top-performing partners motivates performance and provides great sales enablement
Did you know, on average, employees resharing company content has a click-through rate of more than double that of the original company post? And often collectively staff have many more followers than the business itself. Partnering with recognizable influencers increases employees’ pride in their work
4. Feedback and value exchange
Influencers are industry experts with user experience. Integrating them in the product evaluation and feedback process will enable product improvement direct from the experiences of the people who use them, improving genuine service for your customers.
Sales are less than 10% of your business. Why restrict the value of influencers to sales when putting the same principles into practice across the other 90% presents a huge opportunity for exponential value-add throughout your operation? The strategic use of B2B influencers will change the way we see influencer partnerships, and is something brands need to start planning for.
Content by The Drum Network member:
Ogilvy is all about depth and breadth - we have London's broadest and deepest skillset in communications our award-winning teams work fluidly across our core capabilities Advertising Brand & Content, Experience, PR and Influence. And we have the UK's largest dedicated team of award-winning behavioural scientists in-house.Find out more