Believe it or not, 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth referrals when making their buying decision[i]. This means that even with their great power and authority, there are few things which these decision-makers rely on more than input from their colleagues. So, what does this mean for you? Well, ultimately it means - overlook these influencers at your peril.
Add influencers to every stage of marketing
Marketing starts with research and the creation of buyer personas, and this activity should include influencers too. It may seem contradictory to carry out ‘buyer’ research on individuals who don’t actually have the authority to buy, but, as we’ve seen, they are so important in the buying process, it would be madness to overlook them. So, with this in mind, expand your initial research further than just the individuals involved in the decision-maker group. For example, the procurement director may be the person who makes the final call, but if they take advice from the operations manager, then you need to be building a relationship with that ops manager too. The process of creating personas won’t be any different than normal, you’ll just have more individuals to include.
Once the influencer personas are completed, it’s simply a case of marketing to them as you would with buyers. Pay close attention to the channels which they typically engage with, and focus on the pain points which were uncovered. As always, remember that it’s not about the hard sell, so look to generate content which helps them achieve their day-to-day objectives and targets. Be aware that their pain points may include ‘impressing their colleagues’ or highlighting their worth within the company. When this is the case, the content and messaging you serve them, may not directly be about their role and targets. Instead it may be a similar approach to the information you are sending to actual decision-makers i.e. solution-focused. When doing this, be sure to reference your activity so they know you are still assisting them – for example, ‘Impress your senior managers with this innovative solution’.
Given that you’re approaching an audience who don’t have the authority to buy your product/service, it’s important to convert them to an evangelist of your brand. In order to do this, you’ll need to create a deep and meaningful relationship with these influencers. So, keep all communications conversational and helpful, as opposed to salesy. In some instances, you may even be able to assist them in influencing the decision-maker, by helping them build business cases. Once you’ve shown the influencer that you’re the company they should work with, they’ll then actively start influencing the decision-maker (whether they realise it or not).
If you’d like to find out more about generating the quantity and quality of leads you need to succeed in 2017, speak to us today on 02392 314498