So far 2018 has shown marketing that it’s out with the old and in with the new in order to stay relevant. And with 73% of millennials involved in product or service decision making, B2B businesses are left with no choice but to adapt their marketing strategies to the changing times.

Social influencers have impacted the world of marketing and advertising as we know it. However, the concept of having a well-respected public figure promote your product isn’t anything marketing hasn’t seen before. We’ve seen celebrities on TV and in magazines promoting various products and services for decades, but with the exponential growth in social media, we’re now seeing a whole new approach to influencer marketing, and many companies are starting to understand the value of these strategic partnerships.

Companies have simplified the process with a unique approach to becoming more of a collaboration or partnership with someone who posts specific, topic-based content with a large following on social media or a popular blog. Influencers have an established level of trust among their fanbase, meaning their followers are already interested and engaged, making a partnership is a match made in heaven for brands looking to get some added exposure.

The B2C world has seen a massive ROI from successful influencer marketing partnerships, but it’s rare to see B2B utilizing its power. Which leaves us with the question, Is there room for influencer marketing in B2B?

The answer is yes, absolutely, but B2B has yet to understand the full potential of how significantly influencer marketing can move the needle for their brand.

Less Aggressive Sale

Buyer standards and expectations have risen significantly when it comes to how a brand presents itself. This is heavily due to the digital age we live in—which, on the other hand, also makes it extremely hard for companies to differentiate themselves from the competition and stand out from all of the noise.

Millennial buyers today don’t just want to buy a product or service, they want to buy into an experience or a cause. They are tired of seeing ads and are quick to reject the traditional hard sell because nowadays, 90% of B2B buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll reach out on their own terms.

However, the word-of-mouth tactic has stuck around all these years and still resonates with all audiences. The B2B buyer demographic wants authenticity—they want to know that real people have found value in a product before they buy it. Afterall, no one wants to waste their time, so this means brands need to find ways to be more authentic in the way they are coming across to their audiences.

When brands connect with influencers who’s values and personality align with theirs, it allows them the capability to reach an audience that they couldn’t get to on their own. By having an influencer involved as a liaison between your product and your audience, it allows your target audience to see your brands personality that much more.

Take a look at this example from an influencer from Microsoft.

 

This influencer has over 104,000 followers on Instagram and is known for design and photography, and his followers have a clear interest in those topics as well.  He has distinct success in what he is doing, so it’s safe to assume his followers look to him for inspiration and ideas, and Microsoft clearly identified him as someone who has an ‘in’ with the audience they are trying to reach.

Instead of a traditional hard sell ad, we see a real person using Microsoft in their everyday life, which comes across naturally as opposed hard selling paid ad that users usually scroll past. Although influencers are usually transparent about getting paid for the post, it still resonates better with their audience because of the platform they have built for themselves.

Simplifies your Message

One of the biggest yet most common mistakes made in B2B marketing is ineffective messaging—brands tend to overcomplicate their message. Finding that happy medium within messaging is just another reason why B2B should start utilizing influencers. Because influencers bring a human element to your message, it makes your brand more relatable. So now you don’t just have a hard traditional marketing message, you have a living testimonial, which people can relate to much more.

IBM launched The Masters App to showcase the live events happening at the annual golf tournament. The app allows viewers to track exactly what is going on in real time. To build awareness of the technology behind the app, IBM teamed up tech expert, Brian Tong, and Atlanta Falcons Quarterback, Matt Ryan in this video:

IBM was strategic in selecting two major influencers who have an impact on both of their target audiences—sports fans and technology enthusiasts. It was a great move on their part to make this technology more approachable for both audiences.

Influencers have success because they can communicate a clear message that gets the attention of many—surely they can break down your product or service in a way that will speak to their followers by showing how it’s impacted their real-life experiences.

Your Credibility Will Skyrocket

Are you seen as a thought leader in your industry? Do you have your consumers best interest in mind?

Your brand credibility boils down to one simple, critical question, are you trustworthy?

People trust influencers more than a celebrity or traditional ad, and the statistics reflect it—brands retain a higher percentage of those customers that they attract from influencers.

Why? Because word-of-mouth referrals from respected and trusted people will be a marketing tactic that never goes away. If credible people are speaking up about your product or service, then your credibility will reach new heights.

Because 89% of millennial b2b decision makers research on the internet before making a purchase, and that is where influencers appear, naturally your credibility with them is going to be much higher than if you are taking the traditional route.

How B2B Should Respond

It’s hard to ignore the statistics as 84% of millennials simply don’t trust traditional advertising. And as more and more of this generation gain buying power in the B2B industry, it’s critical to adapt B2B marketing strategies. Which means if brands continue with just traditional approaches, they aren’t going to connect with the modern buyer.

There are many influencers out there, it’s just a matter of B2B leaders taking the first step and reaching out to someone who can move the needle for them. Although as a society we’ve advanced digitally, the element of human impact has remained the same.

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