The Power of Influencer Marketing in B2B
When many of us hear the term “Influencer Marketing” we immediately think of B2C examples involving celebrities on Instagram with exaggerated appendages hawking wares, but what about influencer marketing in a B2B context? I’ve recently had the privilege of learning from and interviewing many experts on the matter – including the Global Head of Influencer Marketing at SAP, Ursula Ringham. Influencer marketing is about showing that other credible people, outside of your company, have similar views of the world.
Influencer marketing in B2B often involves a company reaching out to associate themselves with a recognized person in an industry or market that has a high level of credibility, respect and positive influence. Astute companies surround their brands and messaging with influencers that share similar views.
Influencers are not just important in a marketing context, but companies have long chose influencers to join their board of directors, and/or become company advisors, because of the credibility that travels with them.
Employing influencer marketing is often far more subtle than found in the B2C arena. Often an influencer simply shares a similar view of industry trends, company values and required strategies. For example, the bestselling author Nir Eyal was recently invited to speak at SAP’s CX Live 2018 conference in Barcelona. Nir advocates purposefully designing products to be habit forming – his book is titled Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. I doubt he has any experience or interest in using SAP’s enterprise software or cloud solutions, but Nir and SAP both share an interest in creating great customer experiences.
Influencer marketing can be used to bring credibility to many different things:
- Leadership teams
- Business plans
- Product direction
- Specific innovations
- Business model
- View of the future
I spent several years working for the large consulting company, Cognizant. I worked in their think tank, the Center for the Future of Work. The purpose of the Center for the Future of Work was to bring credibility to Cognizant’s view of the world, the future, emerging business trends, strategies, etc. They recruited a team of influential technology analysts, academics, authors and speakers to be influencers on their team.
In Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, we found the more customers and prospects would read the books our group members published, the research reports we wrote, and videos we filmed, the more Cognizant’s credibility as a digital transformation thought leader increased and we closed more business. It was a great market and branding success for Cognizant with a multi-billion dollar ROI.