In the consumer world, we are all familiar with famous people promoting a product or brand with their social media followers to get them to buy or sign up. In short, they are “influencers” and while it may be small stuff on a community level, local sports and food personalities, it is big business and huge money when adopted by the global brands.
It’s also a marketing tactic that comes with risks; just look at the Kardashian family for the extremes with stunning price tags, and then the challenges of sparking consumer resentment or even the safety of the productmay be called into question. B2B
But despite all this, the potential of an influential tweet or Instagram posting at just the right time to skyrocket the sales far outweighs the risks when building the marketing calendar. Let’s face it, “Influencers” are here to stay. Interestingly the use of Influencers in the B2B space – or Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) as they are often referred to – has seen little uptake compared to the consumer market.
This is surprising when most enterprises are very actively using social media to promote and support their sales and marketing activities and the concept is far from new. According to Social Media Todaythe very first influencer in the industrial world was the Queen, after Josiah Wedgewood placed her royal seal on a tea set, thus showing the world his Wedgewood pottery was endorsed by Royalty.
From experience, using KOLs in the B2B world brings far less risk than engaging a top model or sports personality, but these unique individuals are less easy to identify and then require time and effort to secure their buy-in, loyalty and partnership. The typical first entry point is often among the industry analysts, easily identified by the companies they work for, but it’s a fine line between paying for the content and support and having the validation of being endorsed by an impartial and expert third party.
At Priority Consultants, we help our clients identify and engage suitable KOLs who can extend their voice and reach in the market. Most importantly the right endorsement and we hope long term commitment will fast track the brand into new communities.
Finding the right voice
These are some guidelines we follow as we explore B2B Influencers such as their depth of subject knowledge and associated experience; can they be described as a “guru”? Then in terms of their voice, where are they publishing, how often, do they have a credible website or blog with traffic and readership? Are their followers even relevant to the business of the client?
It is not as easy as a quick social media search, but these business voices are definitely out there and can often be found among the dedicated blogger community, experienced journalists and within the trade and industry associations.
Academia also brings rich potential and offers an exciting spin-off impact of influencing and educating the next generation of professionals which makes this enormously exciting especially as education and industry become increasingly aligned.
Willing to Listen?
You need a KOL who is prepared to listen and even more importantly has the knowledge and experience to weigh your value proposition in its market context. It’s not as easy as product sampling and getting them on board as your “voice” is a complex relationship game based on information, sharing, feedback and response.
Different KOLs may be needed across a region as complex as SE Asia but we find the effort and commitment can pay dividends which is why KOLs play an important role in many of our campaigns.