You Ask, I Answer: Building Partnerships with Influencers?

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You Ask, I Answer: Building Partnerships with Influencers?

In this series, I answer questions from the B2B Influencer Marketing Summit hosted by SAP and Onalytica. I participated in a panel discussion, a format that doesn’t really allow for deep dives into particular questions, so we’re tackling these questions individually here. Today’s question is:

What is the best way for a relationship to form between you and a brand?

Tune in to hear the more in-depth answer.

You Ask, I Answer: Building Partnerships with Influencers?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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Christopher Penn 0:00

In today’s episode, we’re going to answer some questions about influencer marketing, specifically B2B influencer marketing.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the B2B influencer marketing Summit held by SAP and Analytica, they invited me to speak on a panel.

And normally I try to say no to panels, because panels, by their very nature are very broad, and not very deep, right? If you have two, three or four panelists and say, a 30 minute time slot, you really can’t dig deep into any one topic and still give everyone a chance to speak, to be heard in a fair and equitable manner.

And get through a lot of material typically does not happen.

So panels are good for sort of a broad, very surface level look at something and not a deep dive.

And a lot of the questions that the team had put together for the panelists are really good questions that deserve more time than we had.

So I figured I would tackle some of these questions here, where there is no time limit, there’s no other panelists.

I don’t have to worry about talking over somebody or trying to get something out too quickly.

And not saying what, what might be useful or helpful.

So let’s dig in the first one.

Now, the first question from the panel that we’ll start with today’s episode is, what’s the best way for a relationship to form between you being an influencer and a brand within the context of B2B marketing.

And, at least for me, the longest lasting and most successful partnerships that I’ve had with brands are typically around brands and products and services that I already use, or that someone offers me a chance to use and say, Hey, here’s the here’s the thing.

We think it’s good, here’s why we think it’s good.

And we’d like to give it to you, without any strings attached to try it out.

software services in the past, I’ve worked with, like Talkwalker, for example, IBM Watson Studio, things, these, these are all services that have had a chance to try.

And then as I see if you know, if a company has the goods or not, typically, that can then lead to an engagement of some kind of piece of content of recommendation, something that is a useful value.

And the value exchange is pretty clear.

I get ongoing access to the product, and they get ongoing exposure with the audience with you.

And I feel like those the the relationships that tend to work the best for me, what tends to work less well, is, at least on a long term basis, are you know, hey, here’s a thing, would you talk about it, right? Or would you like to do an interview with somebody, stuff like that.

And I get a ton of those pitches.


They’re done by marketers who expect influencers to be like advertisers, and to some degree and with some folks, that is 100% of the case.

You give the person your money, and they do the thing that you ask them to do.

But certainly within B2B marketing, there is almost an expected level of expertise or credibility that goes with the influencer marketing to not just have someone shilling for your company.

But to actually understand the use case, why would somebody use this product or service? What makes it valuable? It’s different than consumer B2C influencer marketing, right? You see a celebrity or even a micro influencer, they get the product, they liked the product, they do a few things on Instagram with it, and they’re out they’ve accomplished their goal.

You don’t tend to see a lot of long term partnerships with influencers and B2C Typically, you know, they come and go.

Sponsorships are the same way go to a popular YouTubers account.

You see them hocking mailboxes this day and fresh food delivery this day.

And you never get a sense of okay, this is a company that aligns well with the influencer.

And that the influencer would be credible to talk about, right? I had a company recently give me a product and I’m like, I don’t use this product.

I, I don’t really like this product.

And I didn’t feel comfortable representing it because as like, this is really off target.

Right? I talked about marketing and data science and AI, and you gave me this, you know, left handed smoke shifter thing.

And it’s like, man, it’s not really not really on target.

And that’s a big part of building those relationships as well.

He’s He’s the is the brand relevant, right? Is there something that I personally find interesting.

Now, you know, there’s that’s not to say there aren’t there isn’t room for consumer goods within a B2B influencers.


Right, if you happen to manufacture say hand folded katanas Sure, hit me up, right? Doing stuff with swords is very much part of who I am.

But I think that’s, that’s where a lot of brands go wrong.

They do not do their homework, they do not investigate who they’re looking at for influencers, they’ve typically gone into some influencer marketing software portal list of requisite number of followers or whatever the surface metric they’re using.

And they don’t really dig in and say, okay, is this person the kind of person that we would want representing us? You’d be a simple example, I dig pretty deep into people’s claims about AI.

And if you say you’re using AI, and it’s not particularly robust, or you’re just outright lying, I’m probably gonna say that out loud.

I’m gonna say, oh, yeah, this company, they, they they kind of have AI but is really primitive and perhaps don’t use their software.

Right? That’s not going to make a brand manager super happy to hear that from an influencer, that presumably, they they’ve paid money or spent time developing relationship on.

So that’s consideration as well.

It’s going to vary your experience is going to vary every influencer because they’re all human, right? They’re all people, every influencer is going to be different.

Some influencers is gonna say, yeah, just give me your credit card, and we’ll do stuff others are gonna say, who are you? What do you do and why are you talking to me? And the spectrum is as wide and as varied as there are people.

So forming relationships with influencers means doing homework, making sure that it’s what you have to offer is relevant.

Making sure that their audience is relevant to you, and figuring out ways to do stuff in advance by doing your homework that are aligned and work for both you and the influence you have in mind.

So that’s today’s question from the B2B influencer marketing Summit.

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