Influencer marketing is a practice that is exploding in size and scope, but little has been said about its use in the business-to-business marketing sphere. While traditional social media influencers review products and create content capable of converting interest into sales overnight, things aren’t so simple in B2B marketing. Traditional methods require a great deal of research on the part of the consumer, and the sales process can take an average of six months to complete for some products. Below, we’ll walk you through how business-to-business influencer marketing works and why your small B2B company should be using this new marketing style to its advantage.

B2B marketing: reputable and effective

You may not think of influencers first when you imagine B2B marketing, but consider the following numbers: Content created and shared by influencers provides 11 times higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional ads after one year. Old real-world marketing strategies are dying out and being replaced by new ones in the digital realm. The vast majority of marketers firmly believe that given current trends, influencer marketing is effective at reaching broad audiences. It makes sense, given the reach of social media and the size of the customer pools that can be tapped.

How influencing operates in B2B

B2B influencing runs through what is known as the 1:9:90 percentage model of influence. The model states that if you get 100 people online, one will create content, nine will interact with it, and the rest will view it. The 1% are opinion leaders and content creators who reach the majority of their market when they publish content online. They are influential enough to create trends in markets, generate broadly shared buzzwords, and develop new product categories.

The 9% are the promoters who are incredibly active in social media. They recommend products and services and share their points of view far and wide. These few generate deep conversations about what businesses offer to their customers. The remaining 90% represent the market at large. Consumers who read reviews and go over generated content hold the most in terms of purchasing power. This model can apply influence to any brand, B2B or not, and has the potential to shift entire markets.

Finding the right B2B influencers

B2B companies need influencers with vast reach, relevance, and resonance. They need to be connected to large social communities across as many B2B digital channels as possible. These influencers need to stay on topic where all that is related to your business is concerned. They cannot abandon campaigns quickly since the B2B sales cycle takes considerable time. Their content must resonate over large areas of the internet and engage great masses of people. They need to be popular enough to be referred to by those masses of people.

B2B market influencing isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it is worth it. As with all things B2B, more research is always warranted, but what we have gone over here demonstrates the advantages of using B2B influencers.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.