By Rod Griffith
November 30, 2015
Most technology business decisions today are made by people who have spent considerable time getting input, insights and recommendations from a wide range of peers, friends, experts, analysts, consultants – as well as additional advisers and influencers.
So why is so much of your marketing attention (if not all of it) focused on solely targeting the decision maker?
If you’re like most companies, the simple answer is often “We have limited budget and resources – so we focus on the most critical decision makers who we believe are most likely to purchase our product.”
Here’s the problem with an all-or-nothing focus on decision makers: they may never hear about you precisely because you weren’t brought to their attention by an influencer. By completely ignoring the influencers, you may have served to block yourself from a large percentage of your target customers.
The 2014 DemandGen Report study on B2B Content Preferences indicated that peer referrals was the highest rated channel for finding relevant content for making purchase decisions. In B2B technology industries, a wide range of potential influencers can exist. If your primary decision maker is typically a CIO, CTO or VP of Information Technology, for example, here are some example potential influencers (in no specific order):
You can’t reach every influencer possible – but you can take the time to determine who you believe are your most important influencers and create marketing efforts and campaigns designed to turn them into champions for your products/services.
We define two types of influencers. Organic influencers are those people who will potentially influence your target decision makers through their normal course of interaction. Most of the list provided in the example above would be considered organic influencers – assuming that the path of circumstances that lead to their influence occurs naturally through their normal course of interactions in their role as peer, friend, co-worker, analyst, etc.
A synthetic influencer is someone who has been specifically and purposely engaged (most often paid) by you as a means to gain influence over your target decision makers. This is a growing field of focus for marketers often referred simply as Influencer Marketing. In the consumer marketing space, a common synthetic influencer may occur when a celebrity is hired to wear a specific piece of clothing, be seen at a public event holding a specific designer handbag, or mention a brand of car when being interviewed on television. In B2B marketing, a company may hire a known technology expert to promote and advocate for their products – or pay a popular technology blogger to write blog articles about their product.
If you’ve been focusing primarily on targeting decision makers, is that effort working well? If not, you may want to consider shifting some of your focus to the influencers. We generally recommend starting with organic influencers – prioritizing them so as to focus on those who are most likely to influence the decision process. The campaign planning and design process for influencers is really not much different than creating a campaign for your decision makers. Here are some tips to help you:
You may eventually want to explore an influencer marketing initiative (i.e., deploying synthetic influencers). It can be very effective if managed carefully – and can allow you to influence purchase decisions through a channel that is far less crowded with competitors (at least for now). On the down side, it can cost quite a bit more depending on whom you’re trying to enroll as your influencer. And care must also be taken to ensure the initiative is handled ethically and legally – with particular attention to proper disclosure (e.g., paid endorsements or spokespeople).
The bottom line is: don’t forget the power of the influencers and their ability to impact your sales efforts – positively or negatively.
Rod cofounded MarketReach in 1994, after working as a Marketing Manager at DEC, and brings a wealth of B2B technology marketing strategies and tactics to the table. Rod enjoys working with customers and sharing his vast experience of marketing initiatives, programs, events, and sales tools. If you’re a Beatles fan, plan to set aside a solid week when you chat with Rod.View our Team