We recently launched our 2017 influencer marketing predictions. One of the predictions focuses on the opportunity for marketers to set their companies apart by leading the charge with B2B influencer marketing—and reap the rewards. Here’s why influencer marketing isn’t B2B (or B2C):
The writing is on the wall; the B2B and B2C paths to purchase are converging. Smart B2B marketers are already testing the waters, or at least asking questions about how this might work for their brands. Influencer marketing is finally penetrating the B2B market, and there are some very natural reasons why.
Buying things is personal.
A very dear friend of mine is a 25 year marketing veteran with extensive experience and impressive credentials. She recently started working for start-ups, and is having to be the one in the tough position of making recommendations on when and what to bring into organizations to fuel their growth—CRMs, marketing automation, etc.—expensive investments that end up helping shape what companies become and who they attract.
She’s also having to rapidly make the transition from a Marketing Executive to a Growth Marketing Executive—just like many CMOs, who are no longer just responsible for marketing KPIs. They are expected to show marketing’s contribution to sales and revenue. On multiple occasions, when she needed help deciding, she’s called me. These are the conversations we’ve been having:
- “What’s it really like being a customer?”
- “Is this necessary now, or can I get away with spending less and grow into something more expensive?”
- “Should I buy a suite, or best-of-breed solutions that talk to each other? (PS Do they really talk to each other, like the rep is claiming?)”
What this tells me is that she trusts my opinion and experience—despite my being over ten years her junior—more than any of the websites, company blogs, eBooks, demos, or numerous sales conversations she’s had with vendors. It means that, to her, I’m an influencer, and I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to tell the truth. The things I bring into my organization or recommend to others not only impact my life; they impact the quality of life of my colleagues and friends. That means something to me.
How you work has become how you live.
A friend and colleague told me enthusiastically this week, “I’ll bring HubSpot with me everywhere I go. In fact, any job I ever consider, in the future, I will be asking them if they use HubSpot to screen them, as an employer.” Think about that. That’s a powerful statement. It’s personal. That same colleague posted a photo from the office after 8pm that day, and is now working with me on something that will be launched this Sunday night. This is how we all work, now.
Like it or not, it means we spend more time with the tools of our trade than we do with our pets, our loved ones and even ourselves. More time than the cars we’re still making payments on, or the fancy watch we just had to have that we always forget to wear, or the expensive sunglasses we wore once and then sat on and broke—all B2C products that have been using influencer marketing successfully for years.
What we buy professionally—or have bought for our use, or recommend to our executives—affects us personally, and deeply, because it surrounds us constantly. We live in a world where people’s personal and professional lives and identities are becoming almost indistinguishable from one another. As high growth B2B companies become media darlings, people attach more and more personal significance to the brands they use at work. Challenger brands emulate the branding, culture, and technology stack of companies they aspire to be. This means individuals, not companies, are buying B2B products and services.
Which means, when someone tells me, “Oh, that’s for B2C marketers; it doesn’t apply to B2B marketers,” I don’t buy it. I’m a marketer, a person, and a consumer—all the time. I don’t stop being a human being when I walk in the door to work, and B2B and B2C brands alike need to connect with that human to create purchase intent.
Consumers don’t trust you, anyway.
B2B marketers need to get real with themselves. Brands aren’t people, and they will never have the same sway that other people—real consumers—do. The same consumer trust statistics we have been seeing with B2C brands are now plaguing B2B brands:
- Gallup Says 60% of B2B Customers Just Don’t Care About Brands
- Only 6 percent of B2B buyers say they are “very trusting” of vendor content
Think about that. B2B marketers are spending tremendous amounts of money producing and distributing content that consumers simply will not trust, coming from them. To see results, B2B marketers will have to shift to an H2H approach, which influencer marketing provides.
“There is no more B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human, #H2H.” – Bryan Kramer
What 2017 Holds
Despite the pool of influencers being smaller, the stakes are much higher, when your professional reputation depends on you making the best purchase decision for your company. B2B buyers will depend on those trusted voices even more. Those who emerge as B2B influencers will carry more weight. As personal and professional lives blur, we will see an H2H journey unfold, as innovative B2B marketers will recognize their buyers are people, and that purchase decisions are made by humans—real consumers who distrust brand messaging, do their homework and investigate B2B brands—long before they have fallen into the dreaded funnel.
Want to learn more? Tune-in to our webinar with Bryan Kramer and LinkedIn tomorrow to learn why B2B and B2C marketing no longer matters…it’s all about H2H (human to human). Reserve your spot:
Laura Smous is a versatile brand strategist and marketing leader, merging strategic, creative and technical skills toward developing brands and products that provide novel solutions to business problems. She is the Director of Product Marketing at TapInfluence. Follow her on Twitter @laurasmous.