Blind pitching rarely works. It sometimes works, but not to the level you need for a meaningful relationship. For real success in B2B influencer marketing, a real relationship is needed.
What motivates influencers to work with a B2B brand? Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, said in the TopRank Marketing 2022 B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report she has to “Feel rapport with the brand and with the people behind the brand,” and “Like the people I work directly with.”
Finding that sweet spot where you can have a meaningful conversation and rapport with top thought leaders is where you will find real success in B2B influencer marketing. It’s just like knowing that that one place your kitten will let you pet, the one he likes more than anything, so you can make him purr on demand. That’s when you have found the sweet spot.
1 — Get to Know the Influencer Prospects
Several years ago, my friend, PR and marketing guru and Rutgers mega-fan Jon Newman wrote a blog post about the need to read the content of the reporters and publications media relations pros you pitch. He even suggested (gasp!) going to the library or bookstore to make it easier to get quick scans of several publications. I’ve always said media relations and influencer relations are cut from the same cloth. The skills transfer easily.
Where to start? I like to start with the influencer’s social media profiles. I read their posts, watch their videos and dive into their content. And, this goes without saying, I follow them on social media, so I can continue to keep up on their content.
But, beyond the basic social media review, actually reading their articles, blog posts or listening to their podcasts is where the real candy lies.
My colleague Alex White is great about sharing what he’s learned from reading an influencer’s blog post. His emails include questions and ideas from the article, so you can tell he didn’t just read the headline and first paragraph. It’s an automatic connection that sets a basis for an ongoing relationship.
Carrying that conversation from email to a call takes it to another level. Recently, we engaged an influencer to write about edge computing. It’s not a new concept to me, but I felt her blog post helped me better understand it. So, I asked her more questions the next time we talked. She lit up, and dove into helping me learn more about the technology. It was a win for all.
Just the other day, I was listening to a podcast from two of my favorite thought leaders. I was immediately inspired by the research they were discussing. I emailed the research lead and said we needed to pitch it to a client in the new year, and he agreed. It will be a win for the thought leader, TopRank Marketing and our client. All because I listened to a podcast as I was doing things around the house. Which goes to show, you can be imaginative about how you find time to take in all the great content.
My advice for success — take the time to understand the work produced by thought leaders you want to work with. TopRank Marketing has polled thought leaders on numerous occasions, and their number one advice is always to get to know them and their content better.
“Media relations and influencer relations are cut from the same cloth. The skills transfer easily.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez
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2 — Keeping Track of It All
I would love to tell you I keep all this amazing information about amazing influencers in my head. But, sadly, like most people only some if it sticks. So, I have to take notes. And, having a good CRM and/or influencer marketing database that allows for notes is key. I will add notes about who their assistant is, the topics they discuss, and other personal tidbits, like their favorite food or sport team. Then anyone on the team can utilize the research.
I can’t say it enough. The sweet spot is all about the relationship. And, just like with your friends, if you show interest in their interests, the relationship continues to develop. So, don’t take it for granted. Keep asking what they are up to and what they are working on.
“Influence relationships operate by much the same rules as any friendship: Get to know the person, don’t talk about yourself too much, give something before you ask for anything, and be sensitive to their emotions and needs. And, of course, don’t propose marriage on the first date (unless it’s going REALLY well),” said TopRank Marketing’s Josh Nite about nurturing influencers.
“The sweet spot in B2B influencer marketing is all about the relationship. And, just like with your friends, if you show interest in their interests, the relationship continues to develop.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez Click To Tweet
3 — B2B Thought Leadership Sweet Spot
The amazing thought leaders we work with have so much knowledge about technology and business. So, there is often a learning curve to fully understanding. Take the time to dive into the content they produce, because it will not only help you develop a relationship with the influencer, but it will also help you connect with your client and better understand their business. That connection is the real sweet spot for all.
Want some help finding the sweet spot with your B2B marketing influencer relations? Let’s talk.