Today marks the 4th installment in the Inside Influencer series. I want to thank everyone who has viewed the interviews, made comments and shared with their networks. This week we’re continuing our search to find out what’s working and what’s not within the world of B2B influencer marketing as well as further insights from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.
Episode 4 of Inside Influence features guest insider, Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies who our agency TopRank Marketing has the pleasure of working with on influencer content marketing programs like The Zettabyte World – Securing our Data-Rich Future.
Janine and I were able to dig into a topic that I think represents a huge opportunity for influencer integration: the intersection of thought leadership.
Our conversation covered many of the most important topics in B2B influencer marketing including:
- What it takes to be an influencer marketing thought leader when you work at a global B2B brand
- Whether thought leadership and influencer marketing are independent or synergistic disciplines
- How Dell Technologies works with B2B influencers
- The benefits of working with influencers besides building brand awareness and lead generation
- Key insights from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report
- The difference between influencer marketing and influencer relations
- How process is essential for scaling influencer marketing
- Top challenges when working with influencer marketing
- Predictions for the future
Here are highlights of our conversation and you can watch the full interview below.
I recently heard a B2B marketing leader describe thought leadership and influencer marketing as an either / or. Do you agree or can they work together?
Janine: If I had an ideal world I would always like to combine both. If we look at thought leadership, one thing is a thought like coming up with a new innovative idea, point of view or solution, new product or service, whatever it is the certain organization is doing. And leadership. That’s not up to a person or an organization, right, to call themselves a leader. Actually you need a validation from an external audience, from an external source. Sometimes it can be analyst firms that confirm that, it can be through highly credible influencers and industry experts. For us certainly that is kind of how we have approached this.
Using influencers and industry experts for thought leadership validation is absolutely key. @janinewegner
Thought Leadership even in its combination with influence has that element of validation by third parties. And so, to me, using influencers and industry experts for thought leadership validation is absolutely key. From the past years we’ve been doing this combination, it has actually shown us so many great returns, not just from brand awareness and perception but also in carrying our thought and what we’re doing, how we’re exploring the next generation of technologies or the next horizon of technologies to communities, that we might not have tapped into before through traditional means. By connecting with those likeminded people, those industry experts, sometimes even niche experts, a whole new community opened up to us, which was great.
Dell has long engaged different types of influencers in ways that impact the business from content collaboration used in marketing to thought leadership. How important do you think influencers are for Dell Technologies?
Janine: It has been increasing. At first it was like maybe some teams here and there that just wanted to work with some knowledgeable experts in a certain field or in a certain region. For example, events with panels that wanted to have an expert opinion back in the days when we could still do physical events. Today it’s a lot of webinars and online events.
Over the years we’ve seen that there’s so much more and there are so many different types of influencers that you can engage with. Working with influencers all comes down to having a good strategy in place and really knowing your objectives, knowing what is a complete marketing suite, where are your gaps and how do you want to reach your audience? What is the story you want to tell? Where on the customer journey do you want to do that? Once you know that, you can then determine what kind of influencers makes sense.
Is it someone you need to increase awareness and have a broad reach and a huge following on social media. Or is it someone, like I said, like if you have an online panel and the vendor panel where you want to have a certain type of expertise that this person brings to the table? There’s so much richness in the diversity of of influencers.
What we’ve been doing over time at Dell is really kind of doubling down on where we can make the best use of influencers. @janinewegner
And so what we’ve been doing over time at Dell is really kind of doubling down on where we can make the best use of influencers. We’re working with influencers from the C-level all the way to dev ops and anything in between. This is really exciting because we get to work with lots of different people. And also in recent months, we have been making really great progress in building an actual team that’s just responsible for influencer relations. We have people that are truly focused from B2C all the way to B2B influencer relations, which is awesome.
In the report you shared that having an end to end process for influencer marketing is key to not only be effective, but also to scale. What goes into that kind of process?
Janine: I think all having an internal process is a must for any organization of any size, because you want to start at your business objectives. I alluded to this a little bit earlier. You want to know what it really is that you are after so you can set your KPIs and know, at the end of the day, if you actually met your objectives. Otherwise, why are we doing all of this and why we’re spending this money at resources and time?
Also, it’s not just looking at influencer relation tactics as like an add on once you’re done with that campaign, but building it into your complete marketing mix and marketing and communication mix. So, you want to kind of start on setting the objectives then also selecting a great partner and vendor, like your company itself has been tremendously helpful to us, right?
We’re looking for people that have a diverse network of influencers, right? Because we are an end to end solution company. So we need to go from PC all the way to infrastructure and emerging technologies. But also as a global brand who has a network with a global reach, it could be either, influencers that have a global reach or people that are very knowledgeable within a certain region or country that is of interest.
All of this goes into like building a strategy and setting those objectives and finding the right partner. Then you go into identifying who the right people are for whatever stage on the customer journey you want to produce this kind of collaborative content for. Then you can set the right KPIs for the program. You can execute it.
Of course you need to have budget to execute it. You need to ask your business folks to get it for you. Then you execute it, measure it and then you can present a new case to get more funding for the next project.
I feel when people are starting out within this field, they should start small, but very focused. Don’t try to boil the ocean…where can we make impact? @janinewegner
Oftentimes I feel when people are starting out within this field, they should start small, but very focused. Don’t try to boil the ocean, right? Like, really thinking like where can we make impact? What is something that we can show our leadership that this really works and brings us really tactical benefits? And from there on out, you kind of go one stage bigger. And bigger. Until you truly have that full suite of influencer marketing and, or influencer relations or a combination of both.
Who are some other B2B brand influencer marketing professionals that you admire?
Janine: So many! One is Konstanze Alex who used to work with me at Dell technologies. She showed me a lot about influencer marketing and how to work in that space. She’s now at Cisco, sadly, we miss her terribly. Also, the both of us were on a panel together with Amisha Gandhi from SAP and just hearing how she kind of worked from the ground up and like build this huge team and really look at how to integrate influencer marketing within the whole marketing suit that SAP has to offer is fantastic. She’s really a trailblazer within the industry and certainly inspired me. I was very pleased and honored to be on a panel with her.
To see the full interview with Janine, watch video below:
Next up on Inside Influence, we’ll be talking to Rotem Yifat, Head of Influencers & Online Partnerships at Monday.com.
Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:
- Rani Mani, Adobe – The Value of B2B Influencer Marketing
- Garnor Morantes, LinkedIn – The Power of Always-On Influence
- Ursula Ringham, SAP – Behind the Scenes with Influencer Marketing Operations