Walker Sands’ New Whitepaper Outlines The B2B Approach to Influencer Marketing

Just about every business decision – no matter the magnitude or industry – hinges on a single key ingredient: trust.

The recommendations of individuals with significant industry and social followings carry heavy weight with customers, sparking a growing desire to capitalize on the credibility of an influencer’s backing. To help cultivate trust among potential customers, a growing number of B2B brands are wisely turning toward influencer marketing.

WS_whitepaper_Under-the-Influence_cover_300pxWhile sales professionals and marketing collateral can certainly help raise awareness of specific products or services, buyers inherently trust people over press releases. In fact, 84 percent of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral.

In our new whitepaper, “Under the Influence: A B2B Brand Guide to Influencer Marketing,” we’ve outlined the steps you can take to bring influencer marketing to your business. From executing influencer marketing initiatives to measuring success, discover how our approach to B2B influencer marketing can jumpstart buyer interest in new products and initiatives.

Finding a fit

When done right, influencer marketing can be a win-win for both brands and the influencers they work with. Businesses have their messages amplified while influencers get their hands on data-based insights that can help grow their social following.

But as in any other relationship, fit is crucial.

Before reaching out to a potential influencer, take a few minutes to ask yourself, “Is this influencer’s content and audience relevant to my business?” Although it’s always tempting to pursue a well-known thought leader, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to make a big difference in your brand’s bottom line. Keep an eye out for influencers who regularly engage a large portion of your target audience using a tone that aligns with your brand.

Pulling the trigger

Once you’ve identified which influencers you’d like to work with, the next step is to set aside the time and budget needed to bring a campaign to life. Thinking about getting an influencer to promote your next product launch? We recommend spending at least two months researching and reaching out to relevant analysts. The more ambitious the influencer marketing initiative, the more time you’ll need.

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When it comes to budget, many of the same rules apply. If, for example, you want an influencer’s help producing a video, be prepared to pay more than you would for a simple mention in their blog post. While nurturing an organic influencer relationship may help you save on costs, it will also take more time. By developing a sound strategy for your campaign and clearly identifying the desired outcomes of the relationship, you can determine how much time and budget are needed to execute a successful campaign.

Measuring success

Measuring the success of your influencer marketing campaign will not only provide insight into an initiative’s ROI, but also highlight areas for improvement moving forward.

Since measurements can vary based on the type of influencer marketing investment, we’ve created a different set of criteria for both ongoing and campaign-based programs. From the frequency of influencer interactions to share of voice among target influencers, each data point can help determine whether the campaign helped move you one step closer toward your goals.

Eager to learn more about influencer marketing? Download our whitepaper, “Under the Influence: A B2B Brand Guide to Influencer Marketing,” and stay tuned for more content surrounding the B2B approach to influencer marketing.

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Chain Reaction: How Blockchain Is Infiltrating MarTech

Venture capital firms have invested more than $1.4 billion in blockchain since 2013, and more than 2,500 patents involving the technology have been filed in the same time frame. The implications for the financial world here are more obvious, but what does this trend mean for marketing? More than the average marketer may think, as it turns out.

Blockchain is the distributed ledger technology (DLT) behind bitcoin, the digital currency that’s used with encryption methods so that transactions are made without a middleman (banks). These days, businesses offering everyday consumer goods and services are increasingly accepting bitcoins. While Bitcoin was the first currency to be applied to this DLT strategy, it’s not the only currency that can be.

With Blockchain as the backbone of bitcoin, transactions are extremely fast and secure, all while being transparent. One shutterstock_548916601blockchain analyst has compared it to a Google Doc, with our mainstream system of transactions being a Microsoft Word document. The ledger is shared for all to see and updates automatically every ten minutes, all while being incorruptible.

Considering these strengths, it’s only a matter of time before blockchain technology changes the marketing landscape as we know it. Here are three realms that may see changes due to blockchain technology in the not-so-distant future.

Media buying

The idea of blockchain is already being applied to the world of ad buying, and isn’t so far away from being implemented on a larger scale. Nasdaq announced that in late 2017 it will launch an electronic marketplace using blockchain technology for the New York Interactive Ad Exchange.

The ledger will allow publishers, advertisers and media buyers to buy and sell ad space via an electronic marketplace. According to the NYIAE CEO Lou Severine, if this takes hold the way it’s intended, companies could implement the model across different forms of media including TV, radio and out-of-home markets.

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AI and Chatbots: How Marketers Can Keep Up

The marketing world is abuzz with AI chatter. While people love to talk up AI’s potential for automating marketing, the reality doesn’t yet live up to the hype. A study from Oxford University, Deloitte and the BBC revealed that the risk of associate-level marketers losing their jobs to automation is fairly low, at only 33 percent. At the same time, new AI marketing innovations and applications appear daily, and keeping up with this evolution is essential.

What’s a busy marketer to do? According to the Walker Sands State of Martech 2017 study, marketers are feeling the heat already. When asked about tech strategies in general (AI and beyond), almost three-quarters (72 percent) of marketers say the martech landscape is evolving at light speed or rapidly. Times may be hectic, but AI is a tactic deserving special attention. Let’s go beyond the buzz:

AI’s current role in marketing

It’s easy to get carried away in the science fiction-like element of AI. Many companies gaining attention are carrying out genuinely interesting tasks, but below the surface aren’t so advanced in terms of application of the technology.

For example, IBM Watson collaborated with Marchesa to create a “cognitive dress” worn by model Karolina Kurkova at the 2016 Met Gala. IBM Watson analyzed Marchesa’s social media sentiment and changed the dress to correspond to different emotions. The dress was gorgeous, but all-in-all, natural language processing (NLP) is a fairly straightforward technology.

The changes currently brought to martech are far less glamorous, but useful nonetheless. Open-ended technologies like IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein allow for the development of new AI applications for marketing all the time. Here are a couple marketers have embraced so far.

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Walker Sands PROI Exchange Recap: A Week in Seattle + A Day in Portland

Like my colleagues, Kelsey Gunderson and Payal Shukla, I also had the opportunity to visit a PROI partner agency. Last month, I ventured over to the West Coast to spend time with C+C, a creative public relations and social media agency for companies that help people and the planet. I spent time in their Seattle headquarters as well as a day in their Portland office. They also have offices in Boston and Washington, D.C.

Here’s a look at my visit:

What I Learned

I spent most of my time in meetings with practice leads where we exchanged case studies and processes. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • Dull, niche subjects can be fun – We like to pride ourselves at Walker Sands on our ability to make obscure B2B tech interesting to broad audiences. We’re not alone. Many of C+C’s clients include equally niche, complex organizations: utilities, food labeling, diversity organization, etc. But that challenge is exactly what makes our job as creative marketers fun!
  • Definition of “success” varies – Contrary to popular belief, “success” doesn’t always mean placement volume or lead generation. For some of C+C’s clients, changing consumer behavior is the real goal. For some of C+C’s clients, that means registering for health screenings or switching to green energy sources. It’s important to define success for each client or campaign to set expectations.
  • B2B can be B2C – It’s easy for B2B clients to get stuck in the mentality that their customers are businesses. But the reality is that humans work at those businesses (at least until robots take over), and the best results for clients come when we take a more consumer-friendly (read: less intimidating jargon) approach.

What I Did

Of course, I had some fun in the Emerald City with and without the folks at C+C. Besides the obligatory trips to the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the OG Starbucks, here are a few of my highlights:

C&C 1-PRSA Totem Awards – My visit happened to overlap with Seattle’s PRSA Totem Awards dinner, so I crashed C+C’s table and cheered on their wins for the cool campaigns they shared with me.

-Coach Mary – One of the best perks at C+C’s Portland office is a personal trainer, Coach Mary, who visits them once a week. I was there on Coach Mary day, so I participated in a surprise afternoon workout. C&C 2

-Amazon Go – Amazon dominates downtown Seattle, and the city was abuzz with the opening of the cashier-less store. It was only open to Amazon employees at the time, but like any good Walker Sandsian, I pressed my nose up against the glass to peek inside.

It’s hard to believe I only spent three days with C+C! I learned a ton while I was there, and I can’t wait to go back to Seattle. If you’re ever given a chance to visit, go!

 

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Media Relations 101: Building Relationships with Reporters

Public relations is not so much about what you know, but who you know. That’s why all of the Walker Sands media relations specialists came together this month to share our best tips and tricks for developing relationships with reporters.

While our media relations specialists often collaborate across teams, each specialist has their own unique approach to building a rapport with the media. Over coffee and bagels, we consolidated our tips into four best practices for building relationships with reporters:

  • Be personable – No reporter wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot. Keep emails casual and to-the-point. Try mirroring their tone to get a better feel for how they prefer to communicate. Once you’ve established a rapport, send a short email to compliment them on a recent article. This shows the reporter that you’re interested in their work and that you’re not only contacting them for favors. You can also mail letters or cards when appropriate (i.e. birthdays, holidays, condolences). Even the smallest gesture goes a long way.
  • Stand your ground – Many media relations professionals, especially new ones, tend to be overly accommodating and passive when working with the media. That said, don’t be scared off when reporters ask why they should cover your pitch. Be ready to explain why your story is newsworthy. Reporters respect when you hold your ground.
  • Ask for feedback – When a reporter turns down your story idea, consider responding with something along the lines of, “Are you open to future pitches, and if so, what kind?” Feedback will help you better gauge how a reporter prefers to be pitched and what types of stories they are interested in.
  • Meet face-to-face – If you have the opportunity to meet a reporter in person, take it.
    Not only does meeting in person let reporters know you see them as a resource, it shows them that you’re a resource too. You can position yourself as their go-to PR contact by establishing a face-to-face connection and providing the reporter with a variety of expert sources.

Fellow PR pros: Do you have any other media relations tips for fostering relationships with reporters? Tweet us @WalkerSands!

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