A buzz word in small business at the moment is 'influencer'. Business-to-business marketing consultant Marc Duke tells us how to determine whether people are influencers and how to reach out to them for the benefit of your business.
I love my brother in law, I really do he has a view on everything I mean absolutely everything and he is quick to share his views with me, especially when it comes to what I should buy and where I should go on holiday. Yes, thanks for sharing, but this article is about influencer marketing not your personal family dynamics I hear you say.
The great Stevie Wonder has a song about my brother in law – ‘Mistra know it all’ and this is the mantra for influencer marketing my friends. Here’s the deal, people want to buy things that will work, make them look good or in a business case makes the company more efficient/competitive/saves it money etc. Often people like help in making big purchasing decisions and more often than not others will influence their decision – hence influencer marketing and the article.
A personal anecdote for you from my days at 3Com. I remember arriving at Gartner and the analyst started the meeting with ‘I have a call with one of your customers about buying $50,000 of your kit so I need to know if I should advise them to buy 3Com or not’. It made for an interesting briefing session but also assured me that I had identified a key influencer for my employer – job done.
A number of years ago I came across a company called Influencer 50 as the name suggest it could identify the top 50 ‘influencers’ for your business and you could then market away to them. The question is though, who is an influencer and what the hell do we do with them? Today we have Klout and other social media influencer rating tools which is fine if you are looking for bloggers and influential journalists but we are entrepreneurs not comms folk (there is nothing wrong with comms folk – just being specific) but who else influences the purchasing decision?
COMPILE A LIST
Depends on what you are selling and to whom. Given we are in B2B country some suggestions: industry analysts (Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, IDC – and lots and lots of other ones for tech and telecoms), third party advisors, industry associations, government organisations, journalists, bloggers, power customers, investors and depending on your market probably a lot more.
The point is it can be tricky to work this out quickly.
Start by looking at the market, key trade publications, online sites, blogs, events and work out who is not a vendor and what are they talking about. Do this and you will come up with a starting list, as things evolve you will start to add more names to the list (and don’t be afraid to drop some off) and these are the people you need to influence or direct your influencer marketing campaign to.
Before we finish our research don’t forget customers and partners who are ‘social’ are worth evaluating. The power user is not to be ignored, some sites such G2 rate software based on user reviews. People that have time to blog, tweet and comment on social media deserve your time and attention.
GOT THE LIST, WHAT'S NEXT?
Now that we have our list, what are we supposed to do with it? Remember these guys influence purchasing decisions they don’t make them so DON’T sell to them. Inform them, advise them, talk to them, listen to them but don’t I repeat don’t sell to them.
These guys are smart people listen to them because they know what’s going on and they don’t like to be sold to. Back to Gartner for a sec, it has a lovely vendor description tool called a Magic Quadrant which people use to make purchasing decisions. To be a part of this you have to provide the analysts names and numbers of with FIVE customers so they can call them and find out how good your product/service is. You can’t sit in on the calls but the analyst works out exactly what is going on, as he/she is not interested in the marketing pitch.
Treat this group of special people with care and it will pay dividends long term. You might not see the results straight away but having a Mr/Mrs Know it all on your side will get you and your business to where you want much faster than without him/her.
Marc Duke is a consultant, with over fifteen years marketing experience, specialising in business-to-business marketing primarily with emerging technology companies. Marc is a member of the Connect London PBA team, Tech London Advocates, on the Board of Founders4Schools and blogs regularly about startup marketing and social media. Follow him on Twitter @marcduke.