Within the world of B2B influencer marketing, there are a handful of brand experts who have been charting a course within large enterprise organizations for the rest of us to follow. One of those pathfinders is Dr. Konstanze Alex (@konstanze), Head of Corporate Influencer Relations at Dell.
My first experience with Konnie was several years ago when TopRank Marketing was working with Dell to develop relationships with IT influencers as part of an online publication initiative. Since then, we’ve worked with Dell to help develop an influencer marketing playbook, support influencer engagement at events and through content, but her relationship focus on working with influencers has stuck with me through it all.
In this interview, we’ll learn about the uniqueness of B2B influencer marketing, practical tips, a few of Konnie’s favorite influencer programs and where influencer marketing for the enterprise is headed.
What brought you to the world of Influencer Marketing?
About 5 years ago I stepped into a new role in Social Media Marketing and one of my first projects had me investigate social selling experts for who understood the social media from a social business and sales perspective, specifically for a large global organization like Dell. One important aspect for us at the time was to educate our marketing leadership on social analytics and insights to help build programs for our marketing teams that would in turn lay the foundation for successful social selling programs and campaigns.
How is influencer marketing different for B2B than B2C?
In my experience B2B and B2C influencer marketing are not even siblings in the same family. They might be distant cousins at best.
B2B influencer marketing has a much slower and longer lifecycle. It is truly a long-term relationship business in which trust and mutual value creation are built over a long time via ongoing engagements and constant knowledge sharing.
B2C influencer marketing, in general, is focused on capturing the attention of large online consumer audiences which makes sense given the more transactional nature of the business.
Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements.
Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements by the influencers with their highly targeted, smaller business and IT decision maker audiences. The understanding of the off-line aspects of B2B influencer marketing is evolving as long-term relationships mature, trust grows and an alignment of values has been clearly established.
For example, strategic partnerships with influencers can lead to the very natural incorporation of brand content into the influencer’s event and conference keynotes, personal and professional conversations, strategic writings, etc. At that point a B2B influencer relationship resembles traditional relationships with industry analysts.
In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters.
In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters, especially when it comes to high value purchase decisions and long-term commitments a customer makes with a brand. For a brand, the stakes lie in constantly briefing and engaging the influencer on a strategic vision and technical level.
What are 2-3 of the main benefits of collaborating with influencers for B2B companies?
Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision makers. Informed influencers who share our vision of the future based on their own experience and expertise provide for independent, third party validation.
Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers.
Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers. We need to constantly ensure that, as a brand, we don’t start talking to ourselves, but keep a keen focus on the evolving challenges our customers have and on language they use to express these challenges.
How is influencer marketing positioned within your company? Ex: independent department that serves the brand and departments / business unites or is it more decentralized? What are the advantages of that structure?
At Dell, relationship building and maintenance with influencers, media, press and analysts is housed in corporate communications. We firmly believe that relationships based on trust, aligned values, independence of opinion and mutual value creation are key to successful collaboration between brands and influencers.
What tips can you share about being more effective about influencer identification, qualification and recruitment?
You have to invest time and due diligence to the identification process. A sophisticated influencer program doesn’t rely on a single identification method or one-time vetting process of to start and maintain a relationship with an influencer but rather develops a scorecard that gets constantly reviewed and, most importantly, evolves as this emerging field matures. At this point, we review strategy, methods, tactics and measurement on an ongoing basis.
Are there specific B2B influencers that you keep going back to because they are so amazing?
Yes, of course, we have a number of strategic partners who never stop evolving or expanding their expertise. We value them highly and feel that they represent a reflection of our brand’s values and long term vision.
Do you have a favorite B2B influencer marketing campaign that you can share? What made it successful?
There are numerous, but a couple stand out for me: A year and a half ago we started an influencer hosted business podcast called Luminaries – talking to the brightest minds in tech where we focus on technology visionaries and the very human face of innovation. Our hosts are phenomenal digital storytellers and bring the outside-in view into every episode, every conversation with every guest with a deep commitment to and appreciation of our combined audiences.
We built successful long term influencer engagement around our Realizing 2030 research reports that explore and examine the impact of new technologies on life and work in the year 2030. In strategic partnerships we are able to illuminate the report results from a number of distinct perspectives to make them accessible and relevant to our diverse audiences.
Successful (influencer marketing) programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.
How do you think influencer marketing will have evolved in the next year or two? What will it look like in 2020?
We will leverage new technologies such as AI for increasingly nuanced influencer identification, especially for micro targeting of audiences. We will use intelligent tools to find new ways of measuring results and new roles will have been defined within an influencer marketing team. But successful programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.
If you would like to learn more about B2B influencer marketing from a panel of brand experts, be sure to check out our sesssion at MarketingProfs B2B Forum November 13-15th featuring Konstanze Brown from Dell, Amisha Gandhi from SAP Ariba and Lucianna Moran from Dun & Bradstreet.
Here are the details:
Content and influencer marketing are hot topics for B2B marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. What many marketers don’t realize is how collaborating with influencers can create even more credible, relevant, and optimized experiences for target accounts. Join moderator Lee Odden and an expert panel of B2B brand influencer marketing executives from SAP, Dell and Dun & Bradstreet to learn how working with influencers and their communities can help scale quality B2B content that gets results. You’ll learn:
- The variety of benefits from B2B influencer collaboration
- How major B2B brands plan, implement and measure influencer content
- About processes and technologies that support influencer marketing success
We hope to see you there!