Unite with Might: 12 Top Ways Successful B2B Influencers Are Building Powerful Marketing Collaborations

Collaborating businesspeople silhouette image.

Collaborating businesspeople silhouette image.

How can B2B marketers build powerful and enduring collaborations using influencers?

There are more tactics available today than ever for influencer collaboration in the B2B space, but how can marketers find those that are actually achieving ongoing success?

We’ve been fortunate to feature top influencers from a number of industries in our third season of the Break Free B2B Marketing series of video interviews, and we wanted to share their top tactics for both being an influencer in the B2B space, and for improving collaboration.

Let’s dig in and learn how 12 subject matter experts are creating powerful collaborations between influencers and brands, with insightful tactics you can implement in your own marketing efforts as we head toward 2022.

Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media

@ramonray
Founder, Smart Hustle Media

Ramon Ray

[bctt tweet=”“Always look for partnerships, at how you can work with others, and at how you can think bigger and more strategically.” — Ramon Ray @ramonray #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

“I think there are different ways that brands do different things. One thing talking to the brand at least, I think, and the influencers, is that — first, are you clear on what the goals are? Why do they want you? Is it reaching numbers? It could be. For me, it’s oftentimes that they want safety and security. We want someone who can consistently deliver and give us a good seminar, webinar, or host a product and be excited and draw the expertise out of our subject matter experts. So that’s one,” Ramon noted.

“Second — are you living your brand, offline and online? Meaning can they trust that what you tweet — what you post on Instagram, is going to be something that’s going to make them proud. That’s okay for the brands you’re working with. So that’s two. And I think point three, I think the other thing to consider is, are you within the wheelhouse of what they want? If you’re an influencer for a headphone company, and you’re not all about music, you may not be a fit,” Ramon added.

“I think those are a few things that I think about when we look at how we’re working with a brand, and how a brand may evaluate us — it’s safety, security, we try to do the right thing, and be good to work with. And I think that’s important,” Ramon also shared.

Watch, listen to or read Ramon’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media on Small Business Success & Thinking Big.”

Minda Harts of The Memo

@MindaHarts
CEO and Founder, The Memo

Minda Harts

[bctt tweet=”“Whether you have 300 followers or 300,000, it’s the way that you engage, and people have to trust you.” — Minda Harts @MindaHarts” username=”toprank”]

What what does it take to be a thought leader, subject matter expert or an influencer?

“You know, I would say consistency. One of the things that I started before I had a best-selling book, or any of those things — I was consistent with the content that I put out there,” Minda said.

“I picked one or two social media platforms, and I said, you know what, I’m going to give my all to these. My demographic is not on everything, right? So if I pick a couple, and I’m consistent, and every Monday I start with a newsletter, because you want to capture your fans or your potential clients. So I think that for me, it was being consistent,” Minda added.

“Since 2015, every Monday I put out a newsletter. And then I repurpose that content on LinkedIn or Twitter — those are the most active platforms I’m on. I also try to be authentic to my voice, and talk about the things that I know my demographics are interested in. I bring my personal stories, and I asked them questions,” Minda shared.

“Whether you have 300 followers or 300,000, it’s the way that you engage, and people have to trust you. Once you build that consistency and that trust, then all you need is those people who will constantly repurpose and retweet, and do some of those things. But it starts with that consistency. So make sure that you’re being true and authentic to the voice that you add to your community,” Minda explained.

Check out Minda’s full interview and visit our full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations.”

Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor

@CTOAdvisor
Co-Founder, The CTO Advisory

Keith Townsend

[bctt tweet=”“You have to put your thoughts out there. And sometimes putting your thoughts out there is the scariest part about becoming an  influencer.” — Keith Townsend @CTOAdvisor” username=”toprank”]

“I’m fine with calling it being a influencer, a thought leader, or whatever you want to call it. You have to put your thoughts out there. And sometimes putting your thoughts out there is the scariest part about becoming an  influencer — but let’s just call it being known within your industry,” Keith shared.

“Becoming an independent influencer is a little more difficult, because there’s not quite an established marketplace for the things that I do. So is going to the likes of TopRank Marketing or working directly with vendors to find out how do I help a vendor tell us their story, while keeping my authentic voice,” Keith added.

“To stand out, don’t avoid those difficult conversations,” he also noted.

Watch Keith’s full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction

Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall

@dez_blanchfield
Founder, Sociaall Inc.

Dez Blanchfield

[bctt tweet=”“If you’re a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don’t try to be a phone company.” — Dez Blanchfield @dez_blanchfield” username=”toprank”]

“When we have a conversation, we don’t just talk about influencer marketing. That’s a tiny segment of what we do. It’s taking an idea from a business plan and sales and marketing strategy in a go-to-market roadmap, around sales, marketing, comms, and business development, and mapping, ‘what’s the outcome you want?’,” Dez shared.

“What have you started to do sales investing in? Where are the gaps in that? How can we fill those gaps of digital social conversations, and how can we create these campaigns to drive those outcomes such that if and when someone has a pain point or a buying decision, we have ensured — through driving awareness, education engagement, in the form of influence — that you are top of mind and center of heart at that point of a buying decision,” Dez added.

Watch, listen to or read Dez’ complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation.”

Tamara McCleary of Thulium

@TamaraMcCleary
CEO, Thulium

Tamara McCleary

[bctt tweet=”“Be clear about why you want to work with an influencer, what you hope to get out of working with the influencer.” — @TamaraMcCleary” username=”toprank”]

“What is your purpose in using an influencer? Is your purpose to create brand awareness? Is your purpose to increase product sales? What is your purpose? Then, let’s reverse engineer from that and go, ‘Okay, who has the eyes and ears of the folks that are most interested in your product or service?’,” Tamara shared.

“Once we start calling people followers, or an audience, we start diminishing them — thinking somehow they don’t have any thought leadership. But the point of the matter is every single person has thought leadership, it’s just whether or not they’re building it by putting content out there,” Tamara added.

“Be clear about why you want to work with an influencer, what you hope to get out of working with the influencer,” Tamara suggested.

“If you don’t work with an organization that knows what they’re doing, that knows how to harness what that end result should be, knows what the influencer should be delivering to the organization, knows what the organization shouldn’t be asking the influencer, having a company like like TopRank to do that is important, because when I see organizations try to do influencer marketing themselves, it often fails. And then the big bummer for that is when it fails, they think influencer marketing fails. Influencer marketing hasn’t failed. It’s just the way you did it failed. You didn’t do it right,” Tamara observed.

Watch Tamara’s full episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm.”

Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews

@SahmReviews
Publisher, SAHM Reviews

Nicole Brady

[bctt tweet=”“Do your thing, do what you’re good at. You want to start a business because you want to fill a niche. You have to be doing it because you’re passionate about it.” — Nicole Brady @SahmReviews” username=”toprank”]

What makes influencer content powerful?

“Because it’s real. It’s someone that is sharing their opinions. It’s not scripted. It’s not a commercial,” Nicole explained.

“Do your thing, do what you’re good at. You want to start a business because you want to fill a niche. You have to be doing it because you’re passionate about it,” Nicole added.

“Find out what makes you different and what makes people want to talk to you, and then leverage it. Share those details, and create content around those details. As more and more people are on social media, being able to find those out-of-the-box environmental things that make you tick — that you might not have known — showing them off, that’s the way to do it.”

Watch, listen to or read Nicole’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche.”

Eric Vanderburg of TCDI

@evanderburg
Vice President of Cybersecurity, TCDI

Eric Vanderburg

[bctt tweet=”“Sometimes the influencer stuff can get almost like a back door sponsored content kind of thing, or an endorsement,  and that’s something that we definitely try to avoid. Make sure the brand shares the values that you have.” — @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]

“Meeting other influencers in the space and learning how we all could better support one another, and how they were getting their messages out,” has been a helpful approach, Eric noted.

“I’ve always seen this as bigger than any individual, so a lot of these collaborative works have been great,” Eric added.

“Sometimes the influencer stuff can get almost like a back door sponsored content kind of thing, or an endorsement,  and that’s something that we definitely try to avoid. Make sure the brand shares the values that you have,” Eric also suggested.

Explore all of Eric’s episode in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape.”

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz

@bevictoryus
CEO, SHIPZ

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey

[bctt tweet=”“Collaboration is the future of business. I think the only way forward is to really be able to understand what your colleagues in marketing, customer service, or procurement are going through on a day-to-day basis.” @bevictoryus” username=”toprank”]

“There’s a lot of collaboration that can happen with supply chain internally, and a lot of different companies. I think we’re seeing more and more of that, which is exciting, especially for supply chain professionals, because they really want to work. They’re problem solvers, right? That’s who we are, as professionals — we are problem solvers. That’s what we do on a day-to-day basis,” Sarah shared.

“We want to collaborate with the different departments internally, to really create that success for the company that that we’re working for,” Sarah added.

“Collaboration is the future of business. I truly believe that. I think the only way forward is to really be able to understand what your colleagues in marketing, customer service, or procurement are going through, and what they do on a day-to-day basis,” Sarah also noted.

Watch, listen to or read Sarah’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change.”

Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor

Liam McIvor Martin
Co-Founder, Time Doctor

Liam McIvor Martin

[bctt tweet=”“You really have to figure out a lane that you’re passionate about. Get super laser-focused on something.” — Liam McIvor Martin @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]

“If you’re like — man — I want to be the TikTok influencer. I want to learn how to get people ranked on TikTok — do you like TikTok? I kind of do, but not enough to be able to spend the next five years of my life talking about TikTok.  You really have to figure out a lane that you’re passionate about,” Liam urged.

“Get super laser-focused on something,” Liam added.

Watch Liam’s full interview, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work.”

Oliver Christie of PertexaHealthTech

@OliverChristie
Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, PertexaHealthTech

Oliver Christie

[bctt tweet=”“I think the main way I’ve got to be where I am today is curiosity. I’ve been curious about the world, curious about technology — I’m really curious about people and how they act.” — Oliver Christie @OliverChristie” username=”toprank”]

“I was curious. I wanted to know more. So I talked to a lot of people — people who had deep knowledge in one area, and I kept talking and I kept asking questions and discovering more and more and more. I think the main way I’ve got to be where I am today is curiosity. I’ve been curious about the world, curious about technology — I’m really curious about people and how they act,” Oliver explained.

“I’ve got to like what the project is about, what it’s trying to do. And I’ve also got to believe in the technology or the approach. I think without that, you’re selling something. You’re just selling something which you don’t believe in. And that’s not a reason to work,” Oliver added.

Tune in to Oliver’s complete episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI.”

Tim Crawford of AVOA

@tcrawford
CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA

Tim Crawford

[bctt tweet=”“Decisions are not made based on a tweet, blog post, or webinar. Decisions are made based off of trust over an extended period of time. Knowing who you’re working with and having trust in that individual is incredibly important.” @tcrawford” username=”toprank”]

“It’s shocking how the B2C definition of influencer kind of muddies the water of a B2B influencer, which is why I think we don’t use that term all that much in B2B, because we’re more focused on subject matter expert, thought leader, and authentic thinkers,” Tim explained.

“I have also had to explain the difference between a B2C influencer and a B2B influencer. And sometimes that’s like pushing string uphill, because they think that the B2C model will apply to B2B, let’s face it, it’s unlike B2C,” Tim added.

“Decisions are not made based on a tweet. A blog post. A webinar. These decisions are made based off of trust over an extended period of time. And so knowing who you’re working with and having trust in that individual is incredibly important,” Tim also noted.

Watch, listen to or read Tim’s complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal.”

Kevin L. Jackson of GC GlobalNet

@Kevin_Jackson
CEO, GC GlobalNet

Kevin L Jackson

[bctt tweet=”“Communication is key. You need to be able to communicate information effectively using the written, spoken, and visual word, and you have to be able to do that through multiple channels.” — Kevin Jackson @Kevin_Jackson” username=”toprank”]

“Change is constant and change is accelerating. As an influencer or a subject matter expert, your ability to describe and explain the impact of information technology on business and key performance metrics is critical,” Kevin explained.

“When you communicate, you need to use the industry’s vernacular, because that is what will make you unique. Communication is key. You need to be able to communicate information effectively using the written, spoken, and visual word, and you have to be able to do that through multiple channels — mass media, including social media. By being able to communicate well in those different forms across these different channels, your audience will grow rapidly and organically,” Kevin also noted.

“It’s really important to understand or accept this as a relationship. Not a short term experience, but a long term relationship where the influencer is a valued part of not just the marketing team, but the communications team, and the sales team. You really break free through collaboration and open dialogue with your colleagues and partners,” Kevin added.

Learn more from Kevin and see his full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Kevin Jackson of GC GlobalNet on Cloud Computing.”

 Reach New Heights With B2B Influencer Marketing

via GIPHY

These days successful B2B influencer marketing hardly ever follows the way it’s always been done, as all 12 of our subject matter experts have shown. We hope you’ll find the tactics and insights from Kevin, Tim, Oliver, Liam, Sarah, Eric, Nicole, Tamara, Dez, Keith, Minda, and Ramon inspiring and useful as you plan your upcoming B2B influencer marketing initiatives.

For even more insight from leading B2B marketers, be sure to also check out our Inside B2B Influence series of video interviews and podcasts, including the latest featuring Sarita Rao of AT&T, in “Inside B2B Influence: Sarita Rao of AT&T on Growing B2B Executive Influence with Social Media.”

Crafting award-winning B2B marketing with a skillful mixture of influence takes considerable time and effort, which is why many firms choose to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.

The post Unite with Might: 12 Top Ways Successful B2B Influencers Are Building Powerful Marketing Collaborations appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Inside B2B Influence: Sarita Rao of AT&T on Growing B2B Executive Influence with Social Media

Sarita Rao AT&T

Sarita Rao AT&T
Inside B2B Influence is a podcast and video series that goes behind the scenes of B2B marketing and highlights insights with top business executives on marketing for B2B companies. We’re doing our best here at TopRank Marketing Blog to elevate the practice of growing influence within and outside of B2B brands to drive thought leadership, create demand and grow revenue.

Episode 16 of Inside B2B Influence features a discussion with Sarita Rao (@saritasayso), who is President, Integrated and Partner Solutions at AT&T. Sarita contributed her expertise to the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report last year and I have been following her closely (and learning) on LinkedIn and Twitter ever since.

For any senior executive wondering about how they might best use social networks to better connect with their staff and company employees, customers, prospects and the industry at large, Sarita is a great example of what you should do.

While the brand she works for and the level of seniority she’s achieved impart a certain level of general business influence, Sarita earns even more influence about the topics she cares about most on a daily basis. She’s a living example of how to build thought leadership and influence around the things she’s passionate about and engages on through social content.

To learn more about how a senior executive at a Fortune 11 company is able to be so effective on social channels, I invited Sarita to the Inside B2B Influence show. We talked about a range of topics from the value senior executives bring to their teams, customers and the business when they are active on social channels to smart advice for up and coming women business leaders.

Highlights of this episode of Inside B2B Influence with Sarita include:

  • What prepared Sarita best for her current leadership role
  • How social media engagement has impacted her career
  • Advice for B2B executives on becoming more social online
  • Advice for women who aspire to senior business leadership roles
  • Insights into collaboration tools and technology for interacting with current and prospective customers
  • Tips on making connections with employees more human
  • How Sarita is helping to redefine customer experience at AT&T
  • An example of what real human conversation and interaction looks like in today’s business world
  • The importance for today’s modern sales or marketing leaders to be active on social channels

You can listen to episode 16 (How B2B Executives Can Grow Influence with Social Media) of the Inside B2B Influence podcast here:

Watch the full video of my interview with Sarita here:

Transcript – Inside B2B Influence Episode 15: Optimizing B2B Marketing with Influence

You have had an incredible career at AT&T. What in particular prepared you most for your current role as President, Integrated and Partner Solutions?

Sarita: You know honestly, I think it’s that I love this job. It’s like accumulation of all the things I’ve done. So I’ve been with AT&T gosh, 30 years. Thank you for not mentioning that, I just did though. But I’ve been with the company for over 30 years and I’ve had everything from sales to program management to marketing. And if I think of my last job in marketing, it really taught me about taking the complexity out of what we do in a technology environment. It can be rather complex.

I think things are complex when we make them complicated. There are simple ways to approach just about everything. @saritasayso

My team has both direct and indirect sales and we take some of our more value added services and really help our customers get through the complexity of network transformation. So I will tell you it’s a collection of everything. It’s taught me the importance of taking something big and making it something understandable. And I think that’s as important whether you’re doing it in marketing or whether you’re doing it in sales. I’d really say that in this job, where I actually helped launch the wholesale business so I also have that segment, feels like I’m coming home to a good group of corporate citizens and we have the opportunity to move the needle. So, it’s really a collection of multiple things.

You are pretty active on social networks like LinkedIn and you’ve become a business influencer with thousands of followers. Do you feel being publicly active on social networks and in the industry played any part in your career advancement either in terms of visibility, networking or knowledge?

Sarita: Right. I appreciate the compliment, I’m not sure about the influencer part. I do social for a couple of different reasons: One, it’s to connect my team, right? Across my career AT&T whether we’re on a direct team together now, or part of the larger AT&T ecosystem, staying connected is really important to me. I think that helps in many different ways.

I would tell you consistency for social media is important, but if I think of what I do today, since I have both indirect and direct sales, it’s a great way to connect with my customer base as well, for them to see what we’re up to. So I see multiple advantages of social.

Social Media is great way to amplify the work that your team is doing and frankly, our next generation of leaders. @saritasayso

During this pandemic, I will tell you, I used Twitter more to stay connected with the team because we were also remote from one another. I kind of joke that we weren’t socially distant, we’re physically distant. I found things like Twitter as a quick way to connect with the team, because you didn’t have those hallway conversations anymore and so forth. So I probably upped my game a little bit in social for Twitter, but each one of the platforms is, you know better than anyone, has a different purpose and a different reason.

While the number of business leaders active on social channels has grown, not everyone is comfortable with “being out there”. What advice can you share for business and sales executives who want to be more active on social networks?

Sarita: First I think you have to have the innate desire, right? Because then you’re going to be consistent and you’re going to speak with passion about things that you’re interested in. I don’t think you can be on social and be robotic about it. It has to be the authentic you. But you also need to remember each of these platforms is meant for something else.

I don’t do Facebook. Facebook is very personal, right? I don’t do business content on Facebook. Do I stay in touch with some friends via Facebook? Yes.

LinkedIn is a different experience, Twitter is different and so forth. So there are different ways that I think, as a leader or in that business world, you’ve got to think about what you want to be and how you want to be out there on social.

And then for me, there’s a couple of different ways that you can build your brand because that’s effectively what you’re doing on social media. First and foremost: personal and professional, they go hand in hand. It can be difficult to separate your personal life from your professional life, but make sure the content that you’re putting up there represents your best self. Again, I go back to, remember what the platform is for, I think that’s important.

You have to speak to be heard. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

You have to speak to be heard, right? Ultimately, social media is going to give you a platform to share your ideas and connect with others.

It’s also a fantastic way to get a temperature, right? Some of the surveys that you can do of what folks are thinking outside of your world, especially in an environment where we’ve all been a little secluded from each other. I like using some of the different social polls and so forth as we’re thinking about, “how do you get back to work?” It’s a nice way to reinforce some of the thinking.

It’s important to always be yourself, to be authentic and not be robotic. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

It’s important to always be yourself, to be authentic and not be robotic. I think that’s really important. Determine the right platforms. What’s the one you’re most comfortable with? What you can do on Twitter is very different than what you can do on LinkedIn. Make sure you’re investing in the platforms that can get the message that you want, put out there.

I love the use of hashtags, but let’s make sure they’re relevant. Let’s just not use hashtags and emojis for the sake of using hashtags and emojis, but make sure they’re really relevant. The reason why you’re using a hashtag is to connect in that conversation. It’s not just to put a hashtag out there. So let’s make sure you’re using the right hashtag.

They say content is king, but context is just as important. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

They say content is king, but context is just as important. There’s a ton of content out there, but not all of it’s being consumed. So make sure you’re in the right context as well. I think those are some of the things that I would suggest folks look at. One of the things I had the good fortune to learn as I was starting my social journey was that social media is really a combination of art and science. So success really depends on the commitment you want to put towards it. But whatever commitments you’ve put towards it, make sure you’re consistent about it. That’s some of the advice that I’d have.

According to data reported by LinkedIn, 60% of marketing professionals are women as are 52% of CMOs. As a successful woman with a background in sales and marketing leadership, what advice can you share with other women in business who aspire to your level of success?

Sarita: Great numbers, by the way, I did not know those. It’s great progress and yes, there’s always room for more growth, but that’s a fantastic direction. It’s been really exciting seeing in social media, a lot of the changes and movement of some really strong marketing leaders, so that that’s been exciting.

I think from an advice perspective, first and foremost, I would say think broadly. Don’t limit your thinking. Think broadly, ask those questions. Which, to me, is really having that element of never ending curiosity.

Curiosity is just so important. Because you just never know what you’re going to uncover and when you ask those questions. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

I loved going into marketing. I have an accounting degree by the way. So I remember when they asked me if I would look at marketing, I’m like, I have an accounting degree. And what that opened myself up to is that I always had to ask questions because I didn’t know the answer. And even when I know the answer, or I think I know the answer, I learned even more. So to me, curiosity is just so important. Because you just never know what you’re going to uncover and when you ask those questions, it allows folks to think about that answer. And sometimes they’re learning something in that too. There’s a great conversation always to be had there.

And then be agile. People think of agile as a process word. To me, being agile is the fact that you’re constantly ready to move, make quick and easy movements. It doesn’t have to be these huge, massive shifts. Sometimes we wait to make these big, massive shifts. Sometimes it’s just tweaks and adjustments along the way.

It is really is about thinking broadly, having that never ending curiosity and then being agile. I think those are the three pointers I would give, not just in the marketing world, but, in a career overall.

As we start to emerge from COVID, what unique tools or initiatives are you using to interact with current and prospective customers? 

Sarita: All of them, right? Everything from what we’re on right now, whether it be Zoom or WebEx or Microsoft Teams, pick the one that you feel the most comfortable for those engagements.

I will tell you with those conversations, because I don’t have to get on a plane and pack my luggage, unpack my luggage, do all that other fun stuff. I can actually see more customers now, which is fantastic. I just picked up a global team, they’re in 26 different countries and I got to meet them all sooner, versus getting on a plane to go see all of them. We found different creative things to go do.

Even with our customers we do this. We have an advisory council and when we meet with our customers, we’re in meeting all day and they’re giving us insights and we’re showing them what we’re about to go look at. They’re giving us their feedback so we can kind of shape our product portfolio with their insights. But in the evenings, we’re still doing the social hour, right? Something we would have done when we were all in person. There’s something very rewarding about that.

We had a celebrity chef do a client dinner. About 20 clients were on this. And we got invited into their homes. That wouldn’t have happened before. So we got invited into their homes and they brought their family on the journey with them, which again, we wouldn’t have had that opportunity before.

So yes, trust me, I miss and crave face-to-face meetings. During this little bit of a break we had right before the Delta variant, we were back in our briefing center and it was absolutely exciting to go meet with one of our partners. We were face-to-face and we took the photos and did that stuff. And we advanced a lot of our conversations. So, it was a different conversation than some of the other experiences, but I will tell you, they both have their charm to them.

I see it as an exciting opportunity from a hybrid work perspective. I think customers are far more open. They’re not waiting for us to get on a plane to visit with them. And I think the team as well. @saritasayso

So, I see it as an exciting opportunity from a hybrid work perspective. I think customers are far more open. They’re not waiting for us to get on a plane to visit with them. And I think the team as well. Think about everything our teams have gone through, each of us as humans has gone through, many people homeschooling their children. To know that we could build an environment where they could still do that and still be very present at work and be really comfortable…I mean, if a dog was barking in one of our backgrounds right now, we wouldn’t say cut video, right and start again? This is us, right? And I think there’s something very charming about that.

All relationships have an emotional component whether they’re with industry experts or your own teams. For many, those relationships are happening through online meetings. How are you and your teams making digital more human?

Sarita: Absolutely. I have done a cheese tasting at 5:30 in the morning because that worked well in Asia. Right. It was a great way to bond with the team. Cheese at 5:30 in the morning  not so much. If you think about it, during the first couple of months of the pandemic we all built our home office space and tried to find the place we could all be at home. We upgraded our cameras, we figured out the microphones, we hung guitars and ukuleles in the background. We started personalizing the space, right?

There’s this great Twitter handle called room rater (@ratemyskyperoom) where they rate the rooms and so forth. I think we all became conscious of that. I think one of the best selling books on Amazon during the first month of the pandemic was, I don’t remember the name of the book, but about reading and looking at the titles of the books on people’s bookshelves.

So we have that element and then many folks have kind of also managed to become teachers to their children and many adopted new pets and many just spent more time with their family and we’ve invited each other into our homes. We’ve had people comment on the space that we’re in. During the pandemic I was traveling between Dallas and where my family lives in Chicago. Folks knew where I was simply by looking at my background.

So it all did become personal. But if I think of what I encouraged my team to do first and foremost, I asked them to set boundaries. It’s really easy to be in front of these machines hour after hour after hour. I always ask them when they’re kind of working from home to take a moment to disconnect. And if you can’t disconnect, take that moment to go for a walk maybe while being on a call. That’s okay. Maybe we even take a moment to turn the camera off so you can have that time. Setting boundaries has been kind of an important guidance for my team.

Some parts of the organization did “no meeting Friday”. You actually saw a lot of folks on social media talk about doing a no meeting Friday.  I’ll tell you when I came into more of a customer facing organization, I’m like maybe we alleviate video because ultimately if your customer is available Friday, we should be available Friday. The business doesn’t shut off. So I think no meeting Friday is something that has nuances to it.

I think you have to set a stressless tone. If someone’s child comes in a room or, or a dog is barking, you know, I see as a good sign that I have fewer people apologizing for that. @saritasayso

I think you have to set a stressless tone. If someone’s child comes in a room or, or a dog is barking, you know, I see as a good sign that I have fewer people apologizing for that. They now know it’s okay. I think that’s really important to set that stressless tone and take a vacation. You still need to take a vacation, right? Even if we were in the world of lockdown where you couldn’t travel as much, just a day away, a two days away is still really important. Find something, to go off and do and take your mind off of work.

For me also staying connected to coworkers, to family, friends that was really important. I used to love walking by someone’s office. I was just talking to someone earlier today where he was like, “you’d always pop out of your office, you’d ask a question”. He goes, “I feel somewhat disconnected from that”. I’m like, there’s still ways to go do that.  I used to do this way back when I first started with the company. When we first went to a full go home environment is I would do howdy calls where I would just pick up the phone and call someone to say hello. I think folks like that. Something else, I have gone through so much stationary during the pandemic, a lot of handwritten notes. I think there’s something kind of special about getting those. We lost that art. Sometimes getting those handwritten notes was nice as well. It was another way that I tried to stay connected.

Customer experience is a focus and key differentiator for most B2B companies. How are you redefining the customer experience at ATA&T to build trust and deepen relationships? 

Sarita: I would tell you when the pandemic first started, small businesses really struggled. And continue to with the open and close environments. One of the best examples I have of how we leveraged social media for our customers is our efforts with small business. As they were going through some of their challenges, we looked across our business to say, what can we go do to help?  There’s an agency within AT&T as part of our Warner media family, Fullscreen, and, there were at a slow period. So the employees there got together and they built the social media playbook. So you have this professional agency building a playbook on how you establish your social media environment when people can’t come into your store and see your products and services.

They showed us this and this is beautiful. It’s a high cost for a small business to get that advice. It’s not just about opening Instagram and wallah, you’re there. There is a science to this as we talked about earlier. So we took that playbook and we offered it to our customers, to the community at no cost by any means. And that was just a fantastic tool. And we used social media to get that playbook out there to thousands and thousands of customers. That’s one way.

We also had different customers connect in different webinar experiences so they could learn from one another. I think those were a couple of the key ways.

We definitely used our digital space. We created an area specifically for small businesses within our AT&T business environment. We created a handbook on how you build a virtual business. How do you take your physical to your virtual business and so forth and shared that as well. So what we tried to do is, was take some of the things that larger companies have more easy access to and make those available to smaller businesses.

One of my favorite phrases from the pandemic, I remember a team member said, “Sarita we’re in this together”. I remember hearing that and I’m like, you’re absolutely right. We are in this together. @saritasayso

One of my favorite phrases from the pandemic, I remember a team member said, “Sarita we’re in this together”. I remember hearing that and I’m like, you’re absolutely right. We are in this together. And then I heard that phrase time and time again, and I’m like, wow, did we hear it from them or did they hear it from us? But the beautiful thing was that everybody embraced it. So it’s one of my favorite phrases, we’re in this together.

In the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, you shared a quote about the importance of authenticity and that people naturally trust other people more than brands. You also mentioned, “Working with credible B2B influencers can help build brand authority through real, human conversations and interactions.”  Can you share an example of what “real, human conversations and interactions” looks like?

Sarita: We brought Barbara Corcoran on to help us. She has done a series of webinars, we’re still doing them and I encourage folks to go watch them. You can’t get more real. Barbara also brought her friends in, like Rachel Ray. So someone that’s both inspirational and aspirational, right.

If you have somebody that is going out there to start that business, they’ve seen these individuals grow those businesses. What I loved about Barbara is we always offered up a Q and a section and it was like, “well, I’m thinking about starting this”. And she just said, you’re too late. You’re too late if you don’t start now. So she was directive and motivational as well. We’ve seen how Barbara has built so many successful businesses through her work. So I think it was a very relatable and it was somebody, again, that simplified something that was rather complex. She brought emotion.

Folks say this isn’t emotional. It is emotional. So she brought emotion into it and she brought a sense urgency where urgency was required. And this wasn’t anything that we charged our customers for. This was about us contributing to the community because that’s what small businesses are about, right? It’s the community. So I think Barbara was just a huge hit and just so incredibly authentic. That’s what I really liked. And I think that’s the power in bringing the right influencers on board.

How important do you think it is for sales leaders to be active on social networks and build community?

Sarita: Yeah. I think it’s key that you have to have a sort of full cadre of what your plan is. But social media, in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of marketing. It provides incredible benefits but you have to know where you’re reaching your customers and where your customers are. For me the focus is, as you know, is LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t use many of the others because that’s not where my team is or my customers are. So I think that’s going to be really important that you know where you reach your customers depending on your business. There’s others, where Instagram is going to be really important for that business. So just make sure you understand where you should be telling your story. I think staying active and up to date is important and staying relevant and the messaging of today is really important.

Social media, in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of marketing. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

I think it’s anywhere, right? Social really goes anywhere from awareness to consideration until the customer is ready to buy. So there’s multiple ways of looking at it. So I think it’s  definitely relevant. I think you see more brands investing in social for their messaging because you get that broader reach and you get a greater return from that perspective. But again, remember to be active where your customer base. If you’re using it for customer acquisition remember to be active where your customers are.

More brands investing in social for their messaging because you get that broader reach and you get a greater return. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

Thank you Sarita!

You can find Sarita on Twitter, LinkedIn and you can learn more about AT&T Business on their website.

Be sure to stay tuned to TopRank Marketing’s B2B Marketing Blog for our next episode of Inside B2B Influence where we’ll be answering the B2B marketing industry’s most pressing questions about the role of influence in business to business marketing.

You can also download The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report featuring insights from a survey of hundreds of B2B marketers plus case studies and contributions from marketing executives at brands including AT&T Business, Adobe, LinkedIn, IBM, Dell, SAP and many more.

The post Inside B2B Influence: Sarita Rao of AT&T on Growing B2B Executive Influence with Social Media appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

5 Tips for Promoting B2B Content Co-Created with Influencers

5 Tips Promote B2B Influencer Content

5 Tips Promote B2B Influencer Content

Working with influencers creates an amazing opportunity to co-create and co-promote content for B2B brands. The brand can promote the influencer and vice versa. It’s a win-win.

Along with the win comes a responsibility to promote your B2B marketing content in a way that captures attention. It’s social media marketing after-all. To help you get the most out of  your investment in content collaborations with influencers, here are 5 tips to spice up your social media posts. Follow this advice and the valuable content your influencers have helped you create will better reach, engage and inspire your customers.

Tips for co-creating share-worthy influencer content

Tip 1 – Tag, tag, tag

It’s important to give credit where credit is due, so be sure to mention and tag all influencers included in the content piece within the copy of your social posts. It’s a great way to spotlight and highlight your co-creators and add third party credibility to brand content. If an influencer is not on a particular social platform, you can mention them and tag their company.

When you @ tag influencers on platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter, the post can create a notification to the influencers and prompt them to engage and share. When influencers interact with brand social content, it can trigger the social network ranking algorithm to show the brand post in your community’s feed more frequently helping you stand out and reach even more influencers and customers.

Extra tip – having a hard time tagging an influencer on LinkedIn? Follow them first, and post it natively on the platform.

Tip 2 – Be concise

Social media, especially Twitter, is short and to the point. Think about social posts like you would a headline. If you were asked to write 3-6 headlines and subheadings for your post, what would you include?

You don’t need to call out that this is a blog post from MY BRAND. If it’s coming from your handle, readers will assume it is your post, unless you call out another source.

When writing for LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, just because you can use more than 280 characters, does not mean that you should. If your goal is to get someone to click on a link, think short, sweet and to the point.

Tip 3 – Start with an engaging opening line

Have you read a social post that started with “Our latest post…” or “We spoke to…”?

I have.

Did it drive you to read that post?

Probably not.

The first line of your social media posts need to stand out and pull the reader in, so give them a reason to pick and click your content out of the hundreds of thousands of posts in their feeds. It’s just like the opening line of an article. Here are some ideas on optimizing the title of influencer social content:

  • Start with a statistic
  • Call out a great quote from the thought leader
  • Tease out an interesting point

Here is an example of a social post on LinkedIn that leads with a statistic and showcases influencers

Dell Technologies

If you start with the most interesting points from the content co-created with influencers in your promotional content on social channels, it will stand-out more for both customers and the influencers.

Tip 4 – Create engaging visuals

Your images need to be as engaging as your copy. Use the great content you co-create with thought leaders to find a stat, line or quote that you can use in visuals that will entice the reader to stop and read your post. Jeff Bullas calls out that tweets with visuals are retweeted 1.5x more than text tweets in his post on visual statistics.

When you include a great thought leader, ask them if you can include their headshot in the visual. It’s nice to show that your content contains great thought leadership.

Here is an example of a gif image that promotes our State of B2B Influencer Marketing research report that features statistics and a key contributing expert, Rani Mani from Adobe.

B2B Influencer Marketing Report Preview

Tip 5 – Repurpose on Purpose

Many content collaborations with B2B influencers result in substantial content like an ebook, report or blog post as well as involve content opportunities like events. To maximize the promotion opportunity of including the most credible experts in your content, think about going beyond pulling out influencer quotes and sharing them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

When you plan your brand content and where influencers will contribute their expertise, think ahead about how you might repurpose that content in different formats and on different channels. For example, you might pull all the influencer quotes from an ebook about a certain topic into an infographic that also includes key industry statistics.

Or you might have someone livetweet/blog a webinar given by an influencer, then create social graphics out of compelling comments the influencer made during the presentation. Those comments could be re-used in a wrap-up blog post and even added to articles about the topic contributed to industry publications.

Creating a Meaningful Experience

When working with influencers, you want them to understand you value their content and want to share it with your brand’s community. Taking that to the next level with great social content they will want to share with their followers is key. Giving them a good experience will lead thought leaders to want to work with you again, and help to drive positive outcomes.

Inside B2B Influence
If you would like to learn about B2B influencer marketing from the B2B brand marketers who are doing it every day, be sure to check out the Inside B2B Influence podcast.

The post 5 Tips for Promoting B2B Content Co-Created with Influencers appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

B2B Marketing News: B2B Digital Ad Spend Soars, Digital Engagement Changes, LinkedIn Scraps Stories, Google Pays Apple $15Bn

Salesforce Digital Engagement Tactics

Salesforce Digital Engagement Tactics

Marketers’ Use of Digital Engagement Tactics
A new report from Salesforce shows that 9 in 10 marketing leaders believe that their digital engagement strategy has completely (48%) or somewhat (42%) changed since before the pandemic. Which tactics are they using? Social media (91%), digital ads (91%), digital content (88%), website and apps (86%), email (76%) and mobile (69%). MarketingCharts

The Hybrid Future: How B2B Events Are Evolving
Most marketers say hybrid B2B events, which incorporate both online and in-person elements, will become more common in the coming years, according to recent research from ON24. 79% of B2B marketers say hybrid events provide more data than purely in-person events. MarketingProfs

Publishers are much less worried about the coming cookie changes than brands and agencies
Several months of preparation for the coming cookie-pocalypse appear to have brought publishers some peace of mind. They have not had quite the same effect on brands and agencies, according to Digiday+ research. 85% of brands are worried about measurement, a view shared by just 49% of agencies and 40% of publishers, survey shows. Digiday

Instagram is Removing Swipe-Up Links for Stories, Replacing the Function with Link Stickers
As part of its ongoing effort to improve Stories interaction, Instagram is making a change to the way that external links are shared within Stories frames, with the current ‘Swipe up’ links to be removed from the process entirely, and replaced by its new ‘Link’ sticker option instead. Social Media Today

New Consumer Protection Legislation Is Making Zero-Party Data an Imperative for Brands
Brands that embrace ethical and transparent practices with respect to consumer privacy and consumer data will be in a much more advantageous position going forward. And that’s where zero-party data (ZPD) becomes an important tool for brands moving forward: it provides essential personalization while still respecting consumer privacy. CPO Magazine

Marketing Transformation StatisticLinkedIn is scrapping its Stories feature to work on short-form video
LinkedIn announced it will suspend its Stories feature and begin working on a different way to add short-form videos to the platform. “Turns out, you want to create lasting videos that tell your professional story in a more personal way and that showcase both your personality and expertise.” Liz Li, Senior Director of Product at LinkedIn. TechCrunch

Google to Pay Apple $15 Billion to Remain Default Safari Search Engine in 2021
t’s long been known that Google pays Apple a hefty sum every year to ensure that it remains the default search engine on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Now, a new report from analysts at Bernstein suggests that the payment from Google to Apple may reach $15 billion in 2021, up from $10 billion in 2020. 9toMac

US B2B Digital Advertising Market Seeing Rapid Growth
Last year, eMarketer estimated that growth in US B2B digital advertising would be close to 23% over 2019. It turns out that it actually grew by a whopping 32.5% year-over-year (y-o-y) to reach $8.68 billion. This year, estimates put growth at 24.9%, with B2B advertisers spending $10.84 billion on digital ads. MarketingCharts

TikTok is Reportedly Testing 5-minute Videos
If you’re still getting used to TikTok’s longer, three-minute videos that rolled out to the masses last month, buckle up for this possible update. The company is reportedly testing videos that are up to five minutes long, according to social media commentator Matt Navarra. CNet

Twitter Publishes New Twitter Ads Checklist to Help Guide Your Approach
Twitter has published a new one-page checklist of all the key considerations for effective tweet ad campaigns, including hashtag notes, media attachment tips and targeting pointers. The checklist is an extension of Twitter’s recently published Agency Playbook, a 41-page guide that covers all aspects of Twitter marketing. Social Media Today

Google Page Experience Update is Now Rolled Out
Google confirmed that it completed the page experience update rollout today. This includes the updates to the Top Stories carousel on mobile search but the Google News app changes won’t be done for a week, say Google reps. Search Engine Land

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:
Tom Fishburne Every Brand Onion

“The Brand Onion often says more about the marketing team than it does about the brand.  They can be self-indulgent, inflexible, full of jargon, indistinguishable from others, and they often over-inflate the role of the brand in actual people’s lives. by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Have you found your own B2B marketing news item from the past week of industry news? Please drop us a line in the comments below.

Thanks for taking the time to join us for this week’s TopRank Marketing B2B marketing news, and we hope that you will return next Friday for more of the week’s most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter or on LinkedIn or even more timely updates about what’s happening in the B2B marketing world.

The post B2B Marketing News: B2B Digital Ad Spend Soars, Digital Engagement Changes, LinkedIn Scraps Stories, Google Pays Apple $15Bn appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Fuel Your Passion for B2B Marketing with These Famous Baseball Quotes

Baseball Stadium with Lights

Baseball Stadium with Lights

A few weeks ago, Major League Baseball enjoyed a historic moment with its Field of Dreams Game, played at the cornfield-surrounded site in Iowa where the legendary movie was based.

Naturally, this event brought on waves of nostalgia among those who cherish the 1989 classic and its many memorable quotes.

“If you build it, he will come.”

“Hey dad, you wanna have a catch?”

“This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

via GIPHY

Baseball is a complex and strategically sophisticated game that has evoked many wise and thought-provoking words over the years — often with applicability beyond the ballpark. I’ve noted in the past baseball’s parallels to marketing: methodical and rhythmic pursuits driven by patience, sequencing, and learning from failure.

As the MLB season enters its stretch run and the summer fades away, I thought it might be fun to run through some of my all-time favorite baseball quotes and extract insights about the current world of B2B marketing.

7 Baseball Quotes that Offer Sage B2B Marketing Insight

“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three-run homers.” — Earl Weaver

This is one of my favorite baseball quotes, courtesy of an iconic manager and Hall of Famer. Weaver is essentially speaking to the underlying randomness of baseball — the juxtaposition of controllable and uncontrollable factors.

You can develop good pitching. You can teach good fundamentals. You can even build a lineup full of sluggers. But that game-changing three-run homer (or better yet, grand slam) is ultimately a matter of chance and timely circumstance. Which is not to say you can’t improve your odds by taking good at-bats, getting on base consistently, and doing the little things well.

In our world, a fitting corollary for Weaver’s quote might be, “The key to winning in B2B marketing is engagement, trust, and landing a multi-million deal.”

“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” — Derek Jeter

Swap out “talent” for “budget” and you’ve got a good guiding mantra for any small business or lean marketing team. It is a plain reality that certain organizations and teams are equipped with fewer resources than the big fish, but that doesn’t mean they can’t compete on the same field. They just need to work hard, think outside the box, and create their own advantages.

“You can observe a lot by watching.” — Yogi Berra

Yogi was the king of quintessential quotes, so it was difficult to pick just one from him. This selection, like many from Mr. Berra, is a seemingly benign and obvious remark that is actually rather insightful.

Baseball fans and players alike know how much more can be perceived and understood with a keenly attentive eye: the outfielder playing too shallow, the pitcher tipping his changeup, or flags in the stadium indicating a favorable wind channel.

The same could be said for tracking marketing activities or gathering customer insight. Marketers can observe a lot by closely watching their campaign metrics, their audience behaviors, and the many other data points pertaining to their activities.

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.” — Tommy Lasorda

This quote from another Hall of Fame manager in Lasorda, who sadly just passed earlier this year, offers great perspective on the big-picture mentality needed for a marathon baseball season. No team is ever going to go 162-0 and no marketer is ever going to convert 100% of potential prospects. Some will find their own way to your product or service, others will never even seriously consider it. It’s what we do with that third bucket — the customers who might be interested but haven’t discovered your brand, or the ones who are weighing options but undecided — where marketing makes an impact and shows its indispensable value.

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” — Babe Ruth

To be successful in baseball, one needs to accept and even embrace failure, as the Bambino exemplifies here. You can record an out in seven of every 10 at-bats and still be a great hitter. Ruth himself made more than 5,000 outs over the course of his career. But he didn’t let that get him down, or stop him from achieving incredible feats that easily overshadowed the negative outcomes.

Marketers are wise to adopt a similar mindset. The average clickthrough rate for a Google Ad is less than 2%. Even the highest-performing landing pages have conversion rates around 10%. Not every piece of content is going to hit home or drive direct revenue. But if you’re taking the right approach, and optimizing continually as you go, every failure will bring you closer to your next big success.

“To not look at the data is foolish, but to look at the data as having all the answers is even more foolish. It is a collision of new-school statistics and statisticians against old-school managers, coaches, and instructors. Neither side is right, neither is wrong; there is so much to be gained from listening to both sides.” — Tim Kurkjian

An analytical revolution is taking place in baseball, and as the seasoned ESPN baseball analyst Kurkjian alludes to here, it can be divisive.

No one can deny that completely ignoring data capable of informing and improving your performance is irresponsible, especially with the abundance of insight now at our fingertips. At the same time, there’s still a place for intuition, instinct, and experience to play an important role.

Compared to our B2C counterparts, B2B marketers can be especially susceptible to getting caught up in the cold, calculated, rational dimensions of decision making and strategy. But at the end of the day, we’re humans, and so are our customers. Data should always support our efforts but creativity, emotion, and empathy must lead the way.

“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing your whole life.” — Mickey Mantle

In my mind, the greatest marketers are defined by their endless curiosity, and ability to challenge what they think they know. Even if they’ve been in the game for decades.

In fact, that’s more or less a requisite for success in this field. There’s always something new to learn, or a false assumption to dismantle. What works today might not work tomorrow. The changing sentiments of customers and the ever-shifting mechanisms of commerce keep us on our toes. It’s one of the foremost challenges of our discipline, and also one of the biggest thrills.

Cover Your B2B Marketing Bases

Unlike baseball, B2B marketing has no offseason. Our learning and growth takes place year-round. Along this journey, it’s always helpful to absorb nuggets of wisdom and enlightenment wherever we can find them — be it a respected influencer, an inspiring colleague, or a Hall of Fame baseball player.

Looking for more quotes that can alter your perspective and energize your marketing efforts? Check out Lane Ellis’ post from last year highlighting 10 wise quotes to inspire your influencer marketing.

The post Fuel Your Passion for B2B Marketing with These Famous Baseball Quotes appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How to Elevate Post Pandemic B2B Marketing with Always-On Influence

Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing

Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing

As we collect data for the new State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, it remains to be seen whether last year’s 96% of B2B marketers feeling confident about influencer marketing will come out, especially after the effects of the pandemic. With the shift in B2B go to market models towards digital first, influencer engagement has increased for many marketers as an alternative to spending on field marketing, real-world events and trade shows.

As B2B buyers increasingly rely on digital sources of information, stats like 74% of B2B marketers say influencer marketing impacts customer and prospect experience, become even more important. While that confidence before and since the pandemic has opened doors to many more B2B brands experimenting with, piloting and becoming more familiar with influencer engagement, that increase in activity has increased competition. So how can B2B brands raise the bar on their influencer marketing efforts?

Here’s a pretty compelling statistic from the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report:

12X more B2B marketers are very successful running Always-On influencer programs vs. those who engage periodically.  

Always-On Influencer Marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy. The importance of Always-On influence is more important than ever in a customer centric world of B2B Marketing. As Brian Solis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce says,

“Always-On thought leadership and influence are more important now than ever because the customer never turns off.” @briansolis

In our research and survey of hundreds of B2B marketers, we found some key benefits of an Always-On approach to working with B2B influencers:

  • 75% Increased views of brand content
  • 70% Improved credibility of brand content
  • 60% Increased share of voice
  • 55% Increased media mentions of brand
  • 50% Increased brand advocacy

Always-On Influence Builds Momentum in B2B Marketing

The great irony of how many B2B brands work with influencers and an Always-On approach is that many marketers see influencer marketing the same as buying advertising on-demand. They want to work with influencers only when they need them to amplify content for a campaign. That’s just not how it works – engaging with influencers only when you need them to do something for you.

Influencers are people and Influencer Marketing is a relationship business. An Always-On approach to working with influencers still involves campaign level activations, but also a planned and persistent effort to intelligently using insights to monitor, engage and advance mutual goals between the brand and influencers. Smart B2B marketers apply Always-On best practices like ongoing nurturing, repurposing of influencer content, micro-activations, public and private influencer engagement, development of an influencer community and inspiring organic advocacy.

What does Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing look like in action?

LinkedIn has built relationships with a 75+ strong sales and marketing influencer community of industry professionals using an Always-On approach to influencer engagement.

Starting with an Always-On focused approach in the influencer marketing strategy, influencers were researched according to criteria, qualified and engaged. Then rather than activate them all for a short term campaign, those influencers were nurtured and activated on an ongoing basis through varying types of content tactics ranging from simple social interactions to contributions to content and eventually building up (for some) to be featured in marketing assets on the LinkedIn platform itself.

LinkedIn Always-On Influencer activations:

  • Social First Influencer Content on LinkedIn
  • Influencer Interviews
  • eBook Contributions
  • In-Person Event to Co-Create Content
  • Conference Mixers
  • Ongoing Social Nurturing

Results from an Always-On approach over a small slice of time include:

  • 2,000+ brand mentions by influencers & networks
  • 84 Million in social reach through influencer shares
  • 200-450% above benchmark social engagement

LinkedIn is very much in tune with how they want to be known in the industry and what that reputation, thought leadership and credibility means in combination with the importance of authenticity and trust. Developing relationships with the people who are actively driving conversations, opinions and actions in the industry empowers both LinkedIn with an on-demand community of advocates as well as the influencers who gain even greater credibility through association with the LinkedIn brand and the quality of the content collaborations.

“An Always-On approach means the relationship ceases to be “transactional”. Because of this foundation, we’ve been able to immediately activate influencers for external, public-facing advocacy and amplification.” Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

Using an Always-On approach to engaging B2B influencers can help marketers achieve some important outcomes, especially with a digital first focus by customers on where they discover, consume and engage with credible information to make purchase decisions:

  • Strengthen brand awareness
  • Improve industry credibility
  • Warm the market for biz dev & sales
  • Drive demand & lead gen with content
  • Inspire word of mouth advocacy
  • Build trust for the brand & solutions
  • Become the best answer for the brand’s areas of expertise

To learn more about Always-On Influencer Marketing check out our influencer marketing series of posts or talk to one of our experts at TopRank Marketing where we’ve worked with numerous mid-market and enterprise B2B brands to create marketing experiences that inspire.

“TopRank Marketing is the Gold Standard when it comes to B2B Influencer Marketing.”
@BrianSolis, Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce

The post How to Elevate Post Pandemic B2B Marketing with Always-On Influence appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

In-Person & Hybrid Learning: Autumn B2B Marketing Conferences to Elevate & Inform Your Strategy

B2B marketing conference attendees and speakers on stage image.

B2B marketing conference attendees and speakers on stage image.

What are some of the top autumn B2B marketing conferences that will take place both in-person and in hybrid fashion?

As we move ever closer to 2022, more physical marketing events are on tap than were available last year, although most either offer a hybrid online option or are still entirely digital experiences.

To help you sort out the B2B marketing conference options available this fall through the end of the year, we’ve compiled our latest list of the top B2B marketing events to elevate and inform your business strategy.

Marketing conferences undoubtedly offer a wealth of benefits to marketers seeking new learning, networking opportunities, and the latest industry research and insight to increase brand awareness, but finding events that match your business and B2B marketing needs can be a challenge.

Over the past decade the number of conferences has skyrocketed, making it harder than ever to hone in on the ones that can best help build your business, boost your networking opportunities, and offer the most relevant new industry education from top speakers, especially in world of B2B marketing.

For autumn 2021 we’ve gathered together events that place an emphasis on B2B marketing in all its facets, and are happy to present them here,in chronological order. All events are virtual except where noted.

[bctt tweet=”“We’re all the same size rectangle on the Zoom screen.” — Vanessa Colella of @Citi” username=”toprank”]

Let’s sit back and dig in to our collection of the top B2B marketing-related conferences and events taking place in the lead-up to 2022.

Autumn B2B Marketing Conferences to Elevate & Inform Your Strategy

SEPTEMBER

Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference — #MAICON21
When: September 13-14, 2021
Where: Virtual
Theme: Marketing Artificial Intelligence
About: All-virtual for 2021, the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Conference (MAICON) focuses on the successful use of AI in marketing, with a lineup of top speakers to be announced, along the lines of last year’s keynotes from Microsoft and Salesforce.

SaaStr Annual 2021 — #SaaStr
When: September 27-29, 2021
Where: Hybrid virtual and San Francisco, CA
Theme: Software as a Service (SaaS)
About: SaaStr Annual 2021 offers a cloud-focused business event bringing together B2B founders, executives and investors for the largest non-vendor SaaS conference, including speakers such as last year’s presenters from Adobe, Slack, Google Cloud, and Intuit. For this year the event touts “100% Vaccinated, Outside / Open Air,” with over 500 networking sessions.

Content Marketing World — #CMWorld
When: September 28 – October 1, 2021
Where: Cleveland, OH. and virtual
Theme: Content Marketing
About: The theme for 2021’s Content Marketing World conference is connections, and the planned hybrid event is set to explore the best in content marketing to grow your business and inspire your audience, featuring top speakers including The Tilt founder Joe Pulizzi, MarketingProfs chief content officer Ann Handley, and our own CEO and co-founder Lee Odden, who will be presenting “How B2B Content Marketers Can Dominate in Search: Be the Best Answer.”

OCTOBER

Forbes Under 30 Summit — #ForbesUnder30
When: October 11-12, 2021
Theme: Young Leaders
About: The all-virtual 2021 Forbes Under 30 Summit focuses on young leaders, bringing together top under-30 leaders, founders and creators in technology, finance, philanthropy and other fields, with a lineup of speakers to be announced similar to past speakers including Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

Reuters Events’ Strategic Marketing 2021 — #ReutersEvents
When: October 12-14, 2021
Theme: Marketing
About: Reuters Events’ Strategic Marketing 2021 virtual event explores the move beyond marketing and the future of consumer-brand relationships, featuring an array of top strategic marketing speakers including Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela, Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar, and others.

INBOUND 2021 — #INBOUND2021
When: October 12-14, 2021
Theme: Marketing & Sales
About: INBOUND presents a digital experience for 2021, with some of the biggest names and brightest minds in sales and marketing and other industries, and offers speakers from firms including HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmest Shah, Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi, Adobe CPO Scott Belsky, along with featured speaker Oprah Winfrey.

MarketingProfs B2B Forum — #MPB2B
When: October 13-14, 2021
Theme: B2B Marketing & Sales
About: Presenting an all-digital experience for 2021, MarketingProfs B2B Forum offers more than 35 sessions and leading speakers including B2B technology marketing consultant Pam Didner, MarketingProfs chief content officer Ann Handley, and our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden, who will present “The State of B2B Influencer Marketing.”

Advertising Week New York — #AWNewYork
When: October 18-21, 2021
Where: New York City and virtual
Theme: Marketing & Sales
About: For 2021 a hybrid Advertising Week New York event will serve as a worldwide gathering of marketing, advertising, technology and brand professionals, offering major speakers including Amazon vice president of global brand and marketing Claudine Cheever, IBM Watson Advertising head of product marketing Lauren Lee and others.

The Influencer Marketing Show — #IMSLONDON21
When: October 21, 2021
Where: London, UK. and virtual
Theme: Influencer Marketing
About: An in-person event in London, The Influencer Marketing Show offers brands, agencies, content creators and technology platforms a full day on influencer marketing education and strategy, with top speakers to be announced.

NOVEMBER

AI Summit Silicon Valley — #AISummit
When: November 2-4, 2021
Where: Santa Clara, CA.
Theme: Artificial Intelligence (AI)
About: Expected to take place in-personal, the 2021 version of AI Summit Silicon Valley presents all things artificial intelligence for business marketers, and includes leading speakers from AT&T, Xerox, HPE, IBM Services, Microsoft, Google and more.

B2B Marketing virtual ABM Conference — #B2BMarketingABM
When: November 2-4, 2021
Where: London, UK and virtual
Theme: Account-Based Marketing (ABM) in B2B Marketing
About: The hybrid 2021 B2B Marketing ABM Conference is aimed at a deep-dive into the world of ABM for B2B marketers, with four content streams and three days of learning on-tap, and speakers from firms such as Autodesk, Dow Jones, Ericsson, and Panasonic.

DECEMBER / TBD / On-Demand / 2022

AdExchanger Industry Preview — #IP2021
When: On-Demand
Theme: MarTech
About: For 2021 AdExchanger’s Industry Preview is in podcast form, an annual global forum for marketing technology, focused on what to expect in MarTech this year, with featured speakers from Axios, IBM, Amazon and others.

The ABM Innovation Summit — #ABMSummit
When: TBD, 2021
Theme: Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
About: The ABM Innovation Summit explores account-based marketing’s role in B2B marketing and sales, with an eye towards the future. Last year’s event featured top speakers from firms including SAP, Salesforce, and Uberflip.

B2B Marketing Expo — #B2BMarketingExpoUSA
When: April 6-7, 2022
Where: Los Angeles, CA.
Theme: B2B Marketing
About: One of Europe’s top marketing events will bring its B2B Marketing Expo to California in 2022, expected to offer over 200 sessions, industry awards, and keynotes from top speakers from the American Marketing Association, EMRG, and others.

Social Media Marketing World — #SMMW22
When: March 14-16, 2022
Where: San Diego, CA.
Theme: Social Media
About: Social Media Marketing World has postponed its 2021 event and planning for an in-person conference in 2022, with a deep-dive into social media marketing focusing on new ideas and quality networking opportunities, including top presenters.

Pubcon — #Pubcon
When: TBD
Theme: Search & Social
About: Now in its 21st year, Pubcon explores search and social marketing with a wide variety of subject tracks, often including a pre-conference training day.

SearchLove 2021 — #SearchLove
When: March 25-24, 2022
Where: San Diego, CA. and virtual
Theme: Search Marketing
About: SearchLove provides a multi-day event focusing on search marketing for in-house and agency search engine optimizers, business owners, marketing managers and more, featuring top speakers including Moz’ Britney Muller and The Nature Conservancy’s Lindsay Mineo.

Digital Sales & Marketing World 2021 — #DSMW2021
When: October 5-6, 2021
Where: Hartford, CT. and virtual
Theme: Marketing & Sales
About: Digital Sales & Marketing World provides a focus on aligning sales, marketing and leadership for digital success, and features top speakers including Vidyard vice president of marketing Tyler Lessard and StoryBrand CEO Donald Miller.

DigiMarCon Midwest — #DigiMarCon
When: June 9-10, 2022
Where: Chicago, IL. and virtual
Theme: Marketing & Sales
About: Now pushed out to 2022, the in-person or online DigiMarCon Midwest digital marketing conference offers up emerging strategies, the latest innovative technologies, and best practices to move your business to the next level, featuring top speakers to be announced.

Email Innovations Summit — #EISConf
When: June 21-22, 2022
Where: Las Vegas, NV. and virtual
Theme: Email Marketing
About: As its name implies, the Email Innovations Summit focuses on the email aspects of marketing, discussing the cutting edge of email marketing trends and featuring top speakers from leading firms to be announced.

B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange — #B2BSMX
When: TBD
Theme: Marketing & Sales
About: B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange brings together thought leaders in ABM, revenue marketing and demand generation, including an array of top speakers.

Never Miss a Shot With 2022 Marketing Event Insights

via GIPHY

We hope you’ve found a number of new and useful virtual and hybrid B2B events to attend this autumn on our list, and that the networking and industry learning you’ll experience from either these conferences or the many others available will help you achieve newfound levels of B2B marketing success in 2022 and beyond.

At TopRank Marketing we’ve explored the power of events for B2B marketers, especially those who incorporate influencer marketing, in a number of articles, and here are several to help you get the most from your 2021 B2B marketing events:

The post In-Person & Hybrid Learning: Autumn B2B Marketing Conferences to Elevate & Inform Your Strategy appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Three Use Cases That Connect the Dots Between Influence and B2B Marketing Results

Use Cases B2B Influencer Marketing

Use Cases B2B Influencer Marketing

Last week I talked about where B2B Marketers are seeing the most impact from influencer marketing efforts based on the research done with hundreds of marketers for the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report. Three of those specific areas where influence can help B2B brands optimize for greater marketing impact include brand, growing the influence of key executives and driving leads / sales.

While just about everyone in B2B Marketing is aware of how working with influencers can add relevance, reach and engagement to content, not everyone makes the connection between their particular business problem and the influence solution. Here are three examples from many that can help you connect the dots.

Build Credible Awareness of Your Brand with Customers

Business Problem: The industry is not aware of your brand, solution or your category.

This is a situation many start-ups, new products or services, re-brands and challenger brands experience in the industry. These awareness issues are also especially present in situations where the target audience is not aware of the problem your company solves. Whether your company or solution is new, your business is in a crowded marketplace or your market isn’t aware of the problem you solve in the first place, credible awareness is essential for getting on the radar and even considered for modern B2B buyers.

B2B Influence Solution: Engage top category influencers to drive conversations about the need for solutions like yours.

There are multiple centers of influence for every business professional including industry publications, professional relationships with peers, industry experts, or special interest groups and associations. Building credible awareness of your solution and/or brand can be expedited in an authentic way by identifying trusted voices in your industry on the topic and finding ways to partner with them.

The outputs of those activations can include any format that matters to your customers from text (white papers, reports, blog posts, articles) to audio (podcasts, social audio), to video (recorded episodes of an ongoing “show”, livestream video, webinars, virtual events).

B2B Marketing Impact: With more credible awareness of the need for your type of solution and your brand, the warmer the market will be to your solutions. While the description of this impact is simple, execution and achievement of it is not.

Grow Thought Leadership of Your People and Brand

Business Problem: Customers value thought leadership from the brands they buy from but do not see your brand as a thought leader.

Even if buyers are aware of your brand and solution, they may not consider it seriously if you are not demonstrating leadership in the strategic direction of the category. Buyers want to know they are working with the best, not just today, but in the future. Thought Leadership for a brand means an active demonstration of strategy that is validated by credible third parties.

B2B Influence Solution: Identify and engage industry experts that already actively publish and promote thought leadership content in your category and partner with them. Find common ground and goals and use content like a research project or a visionary content asset to attract their participation.

B2B Marketing Impact: What better way to become a thought leader than to partner with industry experts that are already thought leaders in your industry? Trusted experts that co-create strategic content with brands builds the authority of those they partner with by association. Influencers can also provide the third party validation of brand thought leadership as they cross publish collaborated content on their own websites, in industry publications, newsletters and in presentations. Customers that see the resulting collaborative thought leadership content will see the brand as a thought leader as well.

Optimize E.A.T. of B2B Content with Influencers

Business Problem: Your content is well optimized and even ranks well but does not get great click through or engagement from organic search.

B2B Influence Solution: What good is ranking well in search if customers do not trust what they find? Google has articulated through their Quality Rater Guidelines, the value of E.A.T. (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) when it comes to content that deserves to be the best answer in search results.

B2B brands can optimize the E.A.T. of their content that is already optimized for search by building expertise, authority and trust by collaborating with industry influencers for target topics/keywords. Experts that publish well-read industry articles, research, and useful content on the topics that the brand is trying to be the best answer for, can be quoted, provide guest posts, or may even decide on their own to cite and link to your brand from their channels.

B2B Marketing Impact: Optimizing content with keywords as well as industry expert quotes and contributions can give brand content the kinds of signals that E.A.T. guidelines are used for to identify content that should have the best ranking in search engines. Content that is more trustworthy can rank better and also inspire more clickthroughs.

Once you make the important connection between a key business problem and where working with influencers can help optimize your efforts, what process can you follow to ensure the best results? From a content marketing perspective, there is a basic architecture for influencers and B2B content collaboration that has delivered efficient and effective marketing performance again and again.

B2B influencer marketing content checklist

This B2B influencer content checklist is something we’ve covered here extensively and that I’ve presented on numerous times at B2B marketing industry conferences and workshops. The exact implementation of a campaign asset like this really depends on specific goals and the organization of the effort.  Of course, content marketing campaigns that involve influencers on their own are not nearly as effective as an Always-On Influencer Marketing program that combines influencer relationship building with content activations.

If you need help connecting the dots between your business and marketing problem and where B2B influencer engagement (especially in the technology space) makes the most sense, be sure to reach out. We have nearly 10 years of B2B influencer marketing experience at TopRank Marketing and have a huge library of insights and experience to leverage for just about any B2B marketing situation.

The post Three Use Cases That Connect the Dots Between Influence and B2B Marketing Results appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Break Free B2B Marketing Season 3 Wrap Up: Developing New Horizons with 12 Industry Influencers

Break Free B2B Marketing Season 3 Grid Image

Break Free B2B Marketing Season 3 Grid Image

What can we learn about breaking free from the same old thing from some of the top subject matter experts in B2B marketing?

A robust and exciting third season of TopRank Marketing’s Break Free B2B Marketing video and podcast series has now wrapped up, and as we look at the totality of the powerful episodes it’s clear that shaking things up can lead to newfound marketing successes.

Interviewing a strong group of 12 of the smartest B2B marketers in the industry, we’ve explored how they’re developing new horizons and reinventing the role and function of B2B marketing in 2021, and learned what they see ahead in 2022 and beyond.

We’re fortunate to have 12 takes on a number of important topics from some of the top subject matter experts in B2B marketing, with a wide range of insight on how marketers can smash through traditional boring-to-boring marketing.

Our third season of the Break Free B2B Marketing series of video interviews has given us a new group of experts, influencers, and future-thinkers seeking to share the new ways they’ve broken free, and how you can do the same for yourself, your brand, and your business.

Let’s jump right in and see how 12 influential voices in B2B marketing have gone about breaking through, with a wide array of actionable tactics you can implement in your own marketing efforts as we head toward 2022.

Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media on Small Business Success & Thinking Big

Ramon Ray
Founder, Smart Hustle Media

Ramon Ray

[bctt tweet=”“Those who can be as niche, narrow, honest, credible, and authentic to their audience are going to win.” — Ramon Ray @ramonray #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Energetic keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and best-selling author Ramon Ray explored the new marketing world of the haves and have-nots, and how we can make successful shifts to carefully thread the B2B marketing needle.

Ramon also pointed out how just because there’s no room for errors in the new marketing era we find ourselves in, that doesn’t mean we need to be fearful, especially when we can be nimble and creatively agile. “I think the biggest thing small businesses can do is be nimble,” Ramon urged.

Ramon explored a fascinating array of topics surrounding how small and large businesses can think big together, and how B2B influencers can bring a face, voice, credibility, and warmth to
large brands.

Watch, listen to or read Ramon’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media on Small Business Success & Thinking Big.”

Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations

Minda Harts
CEO and Founder, The Memo

Minda Harts

[bctt tweet=”“We have to be willing to have those courageous conversations and be courageous listeners. Once we’ve had some time to sit with ourselves and educate ourselves, then I think we allow ourselves to break free.” — Minda Harts @MindaHarts” username=”toprank”]

“I think in order to break free, it starts with ourselves,” Minda said in her episode of Break Free B2B Marketing.

“We have to be willing to have those courageous conversations and we have to be willing to be courageous listeners, and once we’ve had some time to sit with ourselves and educate ourselves, then I think we allow ourselves to break free,” Minda added.

Check out Minda’s full interview and visit our full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations.”

Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction

Keith Townsend
Co-Founder, The CTO Advisory

Keith Townsend

[bctt tweet=”“I’m a big believer that friction brings value at the end of the day. When — you not necessarily inject — friction, but not avoid friction, it usually brings pretty good value.” — Keith Townsend @CTOAdvisor” username=”toprank”]

“One of the toughest things as a leader in my own organization — what helped me break free is when I’m willing to have the difficult conversations,” Keith told us in his fascinating episode.

“Things that we say are difficult conversations, because we’re fearful of the outcome — I’m a big believer that friction brings value at the end of the day. When — you not necessarily inject — friction, but not avoid friction, it usually brings pretty good value.”

“When I’m willing to tell one of my employees or one of my contributors that, ‘You know what, the piece of work that you brought me just isn’t up to our standard.’ None of them just go away and don’t bring me back a revised piece of work. They usually come back with work that impresses me. Because we engage them for a reason and hire them for a reason.”

“To stand out, don’t avoid those difficult conversations.”

Watch Keith’s full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction

Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation

Dez Blanchfield
Founder, Sociaall Inc.

Dez Blanchfield

[bctt tweet=”“If you’re a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don’t try to be a phone company.” — Dez Blanchfield @dez_blanchfield” username=”toprank”]

“My only ask is that people join the conversation. That’s all I want people to do. I think that if there was one phrase that if I was going to be buried and put in the grave, on my tombstone would be ‘Just join the conversation. If and when it suits you,’” Dez shared with us in his insightful episode.

“The advice I’ve been giving people in the last three to five years is that it was a time when you could do it all yourself. If you were an airline, or a bank, or if you were in health care, or wealth management, if you’re a telco, there was a time when you could do it all, you could run your own telephone systems, run your own technology, stack your own email servers, your own domain name servers. But the complexity is so great now and the speed at which we have to move, is so rapid, and so short, and you know that the demand is for reduced time to market,” Dez added.

“The advice I’m giving people now is: find the best partner choice. In each of the segments, you need to be able to address problems. So if you’re a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank, you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don’t try to be a phone company. Don’t run your own PBX, don’t run your voice systems. If you own a website, don’t become a hosting company. Don’t waste your time running web services,” Dez explained.

Watch, listen to or read Dez’ complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation.”

Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm

Tamara McCleary
CEO, Thulium

Tamara McCleary

[bctt tweet=”“Be gentle and kind to yourself, because all the stress and pressure you’re under right now — you’re not alone. It’s a new world for all of us, where the paradigm has shifted.” — @TamaraMcCleary” username=”toprank”]

“It’s tough right now for B2B leaders, and I have a heart for B2B leaders. I have a huge heart for B2B marketing leadership, because marketing budgets are being hacked away — with COVID, 2020 was a huge shake-up, we didn’t even have those live events anymore — think of all the marketing dollars that were going around big events,” Tamara shared with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis in her far-reaching episode.

“It’s always been difficult for the B2B enterprise — whether you were in marketing, sales, IT, or HR — it doesn’t matter. What you’ve been tasked with is, ‘Hurry up and digitally transform yourself to meet the future,’ but you have limited resources to do that, and oh, by the way, continue doing everything you were already doing, under budget.’”

“Be gentle and kind to yourself, because all the stress and pressure you’re under right now — you’re not alone. It’s a new world for all of us, where the paradigm has shifted, and although you have to be mindful of this particular quarter that you’re in, don’t become myopic and focus your thinking only about this quarter. You absolutely owe it to yourself — you’re worth it — to be able to think, ‘What do I need to do to learn how to stay ahead in this technologically advanced world?’ Where in the very near future brands will not own the relationship with the customer — platforms will.”

“How are we creating an ecosystem of partners with platforms out there — whether that’s the Googles, the Amazons, or the Microsofts of the world — how are we creating partnerships so that our products and services are offered through those intermediary digital assistants that will become the primary person functioning and giving all the information? Your digital assistant — your little Echo or any other device you would like to use, is going to become more sophisticated very soon, and that is going to be what your customer — your human — is going to for information and to handle all of its mundane tasks.”

“If you don’t have relationships with the platforms that house these digital assistant devices, you’re out.”

Watch Tamara’s full episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm.”

Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche

Nicole Brady
Publisher, SAHM Reviews

Nicole Brady

[bctt tweet=”“Find out what makes you different and what makes people want to talk to you, and then leverage it. Share those details, and create content around those details.” — Nicole Brady @SahmReviews” username=”toprank”]

“Think outside the box — if you see your competitors doing something, don’t do it — do something else,” Nicole suggested as a starting point in her energetic and insightful episode.

“You have to really make a name for yourself — whatever it is — whether it’s sharing your flaws, creating interviews, asking for real feedback from the people who are your consumers, whether it is on a B2B or B2C basis — the people who are utilizing your product or service, and talking to them to find out why they’re dealing with you and why they’re buying your product or using your service instead of somebody else’s.”

“Find out what makes you different and what makes people want to talk to you, and then leverage it. Share those details, and create content around those details. As more and more people are on social media, being able to find those out-of-the-box environmental things that make you tick — that you might not have known — showing them off, that’s the way to do it.”

Watch, listen to or read Nicole’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche.”

Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape

Eric Vanderburg
Vice President of Cybersecurity, TCDI

Eric Vanderburg

[bctt tweet=”“Stop looking at security as something that’s going to hold you back, or as this big cost factor, and start looking at it as something that will free you.” — Eric Vanberburg @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]

“Stop looking at security as something that’s going to hold you back, or as this big cost factor, and start looking at it as something that will free you. When you talk about breaking free — many companies are held back right now, because of fear,” Eric urged our readers in his episode.

“They may not enter that market or do business in this space, or they may not collect this private information, because they’re afraid that it may be exposed — that they may subject themselves to additional liability, and all these other fears — rather than looking at this and saying, ‘OK, I want to do this business.’”

“Certainly it comes at a cost, right — I need to invest in so many different ways, and security is another way to invest. Invest in that and now it allows me to move forward with confidence, rather than shoring up my defenses and only doing what I’m comfortable with.”

Explore all of Eric’s episode in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape.”

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey
CEO, SHIPZ

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey

[bctt tweet=”“I want to make sure that supply chain leaders and marketing leaders are taking time for themselves and making sure that they are not only checking in on their teams, but checking on each other and themselves as well.” @bevictoryus” username=”toprank”]

“Lean into your teams and allow them to really shine from a social media perspective. I say that from a LinkedIn perspective, because I think we need more voices on a platform like LinkedIn — interacting, sharing thoughts, and really supporting teams, and being able to share those thoughts,” Sarah shared in her Break Free B2B Marketing episode.

“I also think that teams are handling a lot of things right now — there are a lot of things coming at them — they’re handling a lot of emotions when it comes to their teams. I want to make sure that supply chain leaders and marketing leaders are taking time for themselves and making sure that they are not only checking in on their teams, but checking on each other and themselves as well.”

Watch, listen to or read Sarah’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change.”

Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work

Liam McIvor Martin
Co-Founder, Time Doctor

Liam McIvor Martin

[bctt tweet=”“My estimate is that after COVID is over, we’re probably going to float to around 50% of the US workforce working remotely.” — Liam McIvor Martin @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]

When it comes to remote and hybrid work, Liam has both years of first-hand experience and plenty of helpful and timely advice.

“Do it. Try it. Pre-COVID I would have told everyone, ‘Hey, you know what — why don’t you make a couple people remote?’ Or why don’t you make a department remote? You can’t do that right now — you have to jump in full-on. If you’re not already remote, you’re probably not going to do that, because of how long we’ve already been in COVID — but fundamentally, measure your metrics, create very clear documentation of all of your processes, and communicate effectively with your team,” Liam shared in his episode.

“If you can do those three things, and people can continuously report metrics to you, regardless of whether you’re using a tool like Time Doctor or even if you’re using an Excel spreadsheet — defining those metrics and saying, ‘I got X amount of leads today, and this is on target for my Q3 goal.’ That’s going to be great — you’re going to be doing better than 90 percent of people.”

“Even if you choose to go back inside of an office, those things that you’ve done are fundamentally going to make your company run faster.”

Watch Liam’s full interview, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work.”

Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI

Oliver Christie
Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, PertexaHealthTech

Oliver Christie

[bctt tweet=”“I think that the next big leap is going to be our products and services are going to be much more reactive to who we are.” — Oliver Christie @OliverChristie” username=”toprank”]

“I think it’s about asking a big question, and some of it is quite challenging — where could your company or industry go if you have a blank slate? We need that big question. We need leadership to get the artificial intelligence (AI), the tools, and the data — that’s all secondary — but what is that big question? I think that’s the best that any leader could ask,” Oliver explained and expanded on in his in-depth Break Free B2B Marketing interview.

Tune in to Oliver’s complete episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI.”

Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal

Tim Crawford
CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA

Tim Crawford

[bctt tweet=”“The big thing is understanding your customer and their customer. Once you understand that second degree of separation — not just the first degree — it really puts you in a differentiated position.” — Tim Crawford @tcrawford” username=”toprank”]

“The big thing is understanding your customer and their customer. Once you understand that second degree of separation — not just the first degree — it really puts you in a differentiated position,” Tim explained in his powerful episode.

“Understand what’s in your wheelhouse and what’s not, but never, ever forget to always look at it from the customer’s lens. Don’t just look at it from your lens of ‘Hey, this is what we do. This is what we sell. Our product can do X for you.’ That’s a bad place to start.”

“A better place to start, and a place I look for as a customer is, ‘Who are you in the relationship for?’ If you start with understanding me, and have shown you’ve done a little bit of homework, that’s going to take my wall down a little bit, and start to build trust.”

“Building that trust in those relationships is key to success moving forward. Authenticity, experience — add it to the list.”

Watch, listen to or read Tim’s complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal.”

Kevin L. Jackson of GC GlobalNet on the Future of Cloud Computing

Kevin Jackson
CEO, GC GlobalNet

Kevin L Jackson

[bctt tweet=”“You operate in a global and interconnected industry. Realize that you contribute most to your industry when you build and contribute to that global network.” — Kevin Jackson @Kevin_Jackson” username=”toprank”]

“You operate in a global and interconnected industry. Realize that you contribute most to your industry when you build and contribute to that global network,” Kevin observed in his insightful and entertaining episode.

“You really break free through collaboration and open dialogue with your colleagues and partners.”

Learn more from Kevin and see his full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Kevin Jackson of GC GlobalNet on Cloud Computing.”

Lifting Off From Traditional B2B Marketing

via GIPHY

Successful B2B marketing in 2021 rarely follows the way it’s always been done, as all 12 of our season three episodes highlight. B2B marketers who break free go the extra mile to develop new boundaries and craft memorable and inspiring experiences.

We hope you’ll find the tactics and insights from Kevin, Tim, Oliver, Liam, Sarah, Eric, Nicole, Tamara, Dez, Keith, Minda, and Ramon helpful as you plan your own upcoming B2B marketing efforts.

For even more insight from leading B2B marketers, be sure to also check out our Inside B2B Influence series of video interviews and podcasts, including the latest featuring Justin Levy of Demandbase (client), in “Inside B2B Influence: Justin Levy of Demandbase on Optimizing B2B Marketing with Influence.”

Crafting award-winning B2B marketing with a skillful mixture of influence takes considerable time and effort, which is why many firms choose to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us today and let us know how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.

The post Break Free B2B Marketing Season 3 Wrap Up: Developing New Horizons with 12 Industry Influencers appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.