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Most B2B marketers would agree: Lack of a content marketing plan could be suicidal for any product or service. The surprise is that there are not that many marketers who actively cultivate a strong influencer relationship strategy to make the most of good content beyond their client’s personal channels.
A few weeks ago I wrote 5 Steps For Getting Started With Influencer Marketing. Now I want to talk about a recent marketing study which revealed among other things, possessing a good influencer relationship plan is the goal for at least 84% of all professional marketers this year.
So just what exactly is an influencer relationship strategy?
To put it simply, the influencer relationship is concerned primarily with growing and guiding the relationship with personalities who are perceived as having an impact, an influence, with a business’ purchasing client base. Such recognized influencers include members of the blogging community, industrial analysts, prominent consultants, even trade association leaders — the total list, of course, is next to endless.
Experienced, veteran marketers, like Ezra Hernandez from Blue Raven Solar, pretty much all say the same thing: “Influencers are the very basis of successful and far-reaching content marketing and insightful campaigns. But the hard part comes in making exact pairings of influencers and companies — the yin of a recognized influencer with the yang of a product or service that they can instantly brand in a positive, forceful way.”
Here are some ideas.
Delivery is as important as content
The first step is also the most crucial. It begins with comprehending your audience. Can you pinpoint just who they are? And who is it they like to talk to first when pondering a major purchase? What are the channels they trust and use most?
This is not a one-answer-fits-all situation. B2B strategy has traditionally been quite complicated. B2C is a piece of cake, in comparison. According to Joseph Serrano, President of CX Insurance, “Using an influencer to motivate such disparate groups as retail banking technology buyers, capital markets, the telecom industry, and also enterprise technology purchasers, takes a deft and confident touch. Too broad a stroke means that pinpointing the influencer will not be possible, and the wasted time and expense can become considerable.”
To understand who your influencers should be you have to first understand very thoroughly who your target market will be —and which channels offer the best possibility of finding them. Then comes some hard work in locating the people with the most influence, and comprehending just exactly how to engage them with your message through your content — and this means doing it beyond the bounds of your own in-house channels. This could mean payouts and quid pro quo for the team creation of good content as well as the earliest access to crucial insight.
Make your message short and sweet
One of the most common mistakes a B2B marketer can make is to make their key message too wordy. Key influencers should not be verbose, whether it’s for B2C or for B2B campaigns. Get your influencers on board with the ‘elevator pitch’ concept of presenting themselves to your customers.
You should be able to have your influencer(s) motivated to explain in three brief sentences, or less, how the brand is relevant to customers and also how it works.
Map out your influencer channels well ahead of the campaign
What’s important is NOT what tools you are using, such as Earned/Paid Owned/or Shared influence outreach and content. What really matters is that your influencer contact is going into all the proper channels in a timely manner.
Before anything else, find out just exactly which channels are going to be your influencer’s priorities. This calls for early and detailed planning of content. The proper format is also a crucial key. Your influencers will usually have some solid ideas and input with your developing content, so don’t freeze them out of the process. After all, they are the ones who have clout with the target market, so it’s only reasonable to assume they know know something about it.
The aim is to create a flow, or ‘waterfall’ of quality content at a very steady rate. Dribs and drabs of content are really not effective, and will eventually drive away your customer base and frustrate your influencer(s). Keep a detailed editorial calendar. And don’t discount the importance of external events, such as an external trade show.
Identify the stakeholders, and work them hard
Don’t make the mistake of meeting with your influencer and getting a commitment, and then letting things fall apart as soon as the meeting is over. Identify the stakeholders in the process and instruct them and give them a timeline as to what is expected and when. It’s the only way to ensure that you get full mileage out of your influencer and their following.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.