I recently had the pleasure of participating in a B2B digital marketing forum hosted by The Conference Board and led by Mike Moran and Tim Peter. Mike invited me because of all the experience in B2B digital marketing I have accumulated at IBM, much of which we distilled into our book Outside-In Marketing: Using Big Data to Guide Your Content Marketing.
The lively discussion covered a lot of ground, reflecting the needs of marketing executives striving to do digital well. Digital is a different animal from traditional marketing. As expected, the executives in attendance asked frank questions about how to do the aspects of their mission they tend to struggle with. I prepared for a lot of questions on the prime topics in our book: digital transformation, content strategy, SEO, agile marketing, and digital design. Instead we got a lot of questions on influencer marketing. They all seemed to grasp the concept, but had difficulty putting it into practice.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at their interest in the topic. According to Forbes, influencer marketing is exploding in popularity. The article points to the the root cause of the growth of influencer marketing: waning consumer attention to generic brand messages. This makes sense. We tune out ads on TV and in digital. But we pay attention to messages delivered from people we know and trust. A typical question from the forum probed how to identify these influencers and help them market your products for you.
In B2C marketing, this is done by hiring popular people to subtly endorse your product, primarily in social media. But in B2B marketing, celebrity endorsements often appear like the hype in the ads audiences tune out. And brands that turn their social channels into faceless brand bullhorns often fail. What B2B buyers need is authentic voices from within the company, primarily from product managers and development leads. These are the people who know the most about the products and can give the “inside” information B2B buyers are hungry for.
As I said, the attendees seemed to grasp this concept, but they struggled to implement the approach. The challenges are considerable:
- How do you teach development leads to write well enough to get their points across?
Techies are not known for their ability to make complex technical information accessible to those unfamiliar with the products they build.
- How do you give product managers the incentives to stretch beyond their “day jobs?”
It’s not part of their job description and their incentives are typically about things like growing market share for their products against competitors. It’s really hard convincing them to invest considerable time and energy on a side interest, for any length of time.
- Even if you manage to recruit and train subject matter experts (SMEs) to write regularly, how do you manage their work?
If they’re already stretched for time, getting them on an editorial calendar and coordinating their efforts to optimize their collections of content for the audience is tough.
Fortunately, I had one ready answer in my work at IBM. Go to the full article.
Source:: Business 2 Community