Lend an EAR to understand Lee Odden’s approach to B2B influencer marketing

B2B influencer marketing Lee Odden
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Lee Odden knows he’s no Kylie Jenner, but he’s excited enough about the potential of B2B influencer marketing that he gave it a try.

In his Content Marketing World session on the subject last week, Odden — founder and CEO of TopRank Marketing — showed a self-portrait that mirrored an image from Instagram in which Kyle Jenner made negative comments about Snapchat that significantly hurt the latter’s market value. Of course, the goal of B2B influencer marketing, much like its B2C counterpart, should be to generate positive business results, but Odden said part of the problem has been a failure to understand what it is and how it works. 

“Influence needs a better definition,” he said, citing a mix of personality, domain expertise, network, persuasion and power — all of which are second to an influencer’s ability to affect action. “Without action, it really doesn’t matter. It’s just satisfying some executive’s ego.”

While B2C influencer marketing can involve anyone from movie stars and athletes to stylish consumers, Odden said B2B influencer marketing “activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals.” This requires recognizing that enterprise decision-makers are looking for more than fashion and lifestyle tips they can imitate.

“B2B buyers want credible content sources, not just famous sources,” Oddeen said, citing a client project with Cherwell EMEA dubbed the “DX jungle” which involved nine

influencers and beat the firm’s goals for views by 400 per cent in two weeks.

In another project, TopRank used social software to identity the most influential ifinance people in finance-related roles for a company called Prophix. The influencers were interviewed and quoted in an eBook that pointed to a research report. This significantly influenced downloads, especially when the firm created a Candy Crush-style quiz for its client that would answer common business questions.

Odden suggested using the acronym EAR to remember some key B2B influencer marketing principles. EAR stands for empathy, which is needed to understand what influencers want (besides money) in order to participate, “ask,” in which influencers are asked thoughtfully to participate in a program and “reward,” which could involve boosting their profile or making new connections.

“It’s hard to do this without software,” he admitted, pointing to simple tools like BuzzSumo and FollowerWork to identify influencers, where as Traacker and Onalytica are among the few that can manage and measure such projects. He also said B2B influencer marketing means thinking differently about your target customers.

“It’s not just looking at their pain points and goals but looking for what people are they influenced by, what publications are they reading, what are they searching, what conversations are they having on social?” he said.

The best B2B influencer marketing campaigns are also laser-focused on trying to follow a path attract, engage, convert, and retain customers, while also turning them into willing advocates.

“There are still instances where B2B stands for ‘boring to boring’” he said. “Influence solves a lot of key marketing challenges.”

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.