Studies have shown that influencer marketing, done right, brings in $6.50 for every $1.00 spent. Despite the evidence that influencer marketing works, the vast majority of B2B companies still aren't using it. Maybe they're waiting for a case study on its effectiveness, in which case... they should look to Dell.
The technology company is blazing the trail for B2B influencer marketing, and Konstanze Alex, Dell's head of corporate influencer relations, is right out front.
I invited Konstanze to Marketing Smarts to talk about influencer marketing in anticipation of her MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum session, Tale of Two Tech Companies: Scaling a Data-Driven Influencer Marketing Program.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation (and sneak peeks from our upcoming B2B Marketing Forum):
Before working with an influencer, make sure everyone involved knows the rules of engagement (09:20): "[An influencer relationship] is a mutual benefit: tangible benefits for them and for us. That is absolutely important for the sustainability of a relationship like this. And then there are certain rules of engagement with influencers. The mutual benefit is one of them. Openness and honestly has to be laid out from the very beginning. The conversations you're having need to be relevant, of mutual interest, and important.
"These things, when you say them, sound like, 'Oh yeah, for sure,' but you can't assume. For [Dell], it was important for us to lay these out in somewhat formal ways so that anybody who deals with an influencer on the internal side knows how we engage. The last thing we want to do is spoil the relationship because somebody didn't know the ways we want to engage."
Don't pay your influencers for their opinions, but do pay them for services and time (11:45): "[Dell's] No. 1 rule is we don't pay for opinions. And that is a really, really important distinction. We may compensate for time spent, like if somebody speaks at an event, there's prep time, there's time away from their business. There are fees that we are happy to pay if it makes sense. It is never, however, for their opinion."
B2B influence marketing is getting more complex as some people with influence transition from industry practitioner to professional influencer (16:28): "There's a number of folks on the influencer side who maybe are focusing on tech blogging, sponsored podcasting.... This is happening right now. We're in this transitional phase where we have your traditional practitioners who are also influential, but it's not their business to be influential. Then we have some of these same practitioners having converted their business into an actual business of their influence to become consultants or influencers.
"To navigate that, you have to have very, very clear business goals so you know what you're doing. There is, depending on your goal, there's use for people who have made it their business and for the practitioners. That's how sophisticated the landscape of influencers has become."
You can follow Konstanze on Twitter, at @Konstanze.
Konstanze and I talked about much more, including the right approach to vetting influencers (a 6-9-month process) and Dell's goals for influencer marketing, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Konstanze Alex, director of influencer relations & digital storytelling at Dell. Register now for the B2B Marketing Forum 2019 to see Konstanze's panel on B2B influencer marketing. You can follow her on Twitter at @Konstanze.