Ann Handley of MarketingProfs on Content Marketing and Influence

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Ann Handley

Inside B2B Influence is a present that goes behind the scenes of B2B advertising and marketing and showcases conversations with insiders from the world of influencer advertising and marketing. We join with influential practitioners at B2B manufacturers of all types and sizes to reply the rising quantity of questions on working with influencers in a enterprise context.

In this primary episode of the second season of Inside B2B Influence, I used to be in a position to meet up with the extremely in style, gifted and beloved Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, Ann Handley. I’ve identified Ann for effectively over 10 years and she’s been an important buddy, shopper and supply of inspiration to me about extra significant content material advertising and marketing.

Ann talks with me a couple of selection of subjects starting from the character of affect in B2B, demand for B2B influencers through the pandemic and our mutually favourite “dogfluencer”, August – essentially the most dashing Cavalier King Charles Spaniel it’s possible you’ll ever meet.

Highlights of this episode of Inside B2B Influence with Ann Handley embody:

  • Does all people have affect? Yes and no
  • How the change to digital first B2B advertising and marketing has affected demand for influencers
  • The significance of a relationship pushed strategy
  • Trends in B2B influencer content material collaboration
  • Growing emphasis on govt thought management and affect
  • Worst practices influencer engagement
  • How to combine influencers together with your publication
  • What B2B entrepreneurs ought to do to enhance their influencer advertising and marketing
  • Some of Ann’s favourite B2B business influencers

Listen to episode 14 (Confluence: The B2B Content and Influence Connection) of the Inside B2B Influence podcast right here:

You wrote the perfect promoting ebook, Everybody Writes. Do you assume all people has affect?

Ann: That’s such an fascinating query as a result of at first cross it’s like, effectively of course. But then on the opposite hand it’s type of an existential query, isn’t it? I actually had to consider that for a second. I imply, sure, I do assume that everyone has affect, however not all people has credibility, proper? Yes, all of us have affect, however not in all subjects. Like for instance, I actually like sushi, however that doesn’t imply that I’m a fish influencer. Is factor fishfluencer? I feel all of us have our spheres of experience and we’re influential inside these spheres of experience. But I don’t assume that persons are influencers throughout all issues.

Everybody has affect, however not all people has credibility. @annhandley

I additionally assume that, particularly in B2B, that the notion of influencers is much more narrowly outlined than it’s in, in B2C. Because the experience that I’ve in advertising and marketing is, you understand, it’s content material, it’s writing. It’s very particular. I don’t assume you’ll come to me if you happen to have been in search of anyone to speak about analytics. Like you’ll go to Chris Penn for that. He’s an influencer in advertising and marketing analytics. So I feel, particularly in B2B, that that it’s completely true that the credibility I’ve as an influencer could be very particular and slim. And I feel that’s true of any, any B2B influencer.

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation in B2B impacting all elements of doing enterprise together with advertising and marketing. What impression has an emphasis on digital first in B2B advertising and marketing had on the demand for influencers like your self?

Ann: I’ve undoubtedly seen extra of these alternatives come my manner as a result of I feel, simply to your level, all of the standard B2B ways of subject advertising and marketing and in individual commerce reveals and different moments to expertise the manufacturers head to head, all of that went away prior to now 15 months or so because the pandemic. So what takes its place? That’s been what’s fueling rather a lot of that digital transformation taking place at B2B firms.

Influencer advertising and marketing could be very a lot half of that as a result of, how do you construct that kind of belief together with your viewers if you happen to don’t have the flexibility to fulfill them in individual, to take a seat down, to have a dialog with them? So I feel influencers have change into a proxy and a conduit for that.

We’re going to see extra firms begin to embrace the chance to type relationships with influencers versus straight up transactional. @annhandley

What’s fascinating and what I see straight up from an influencer standpoint, is that extra of these firms search to have these relationships with me. They’re searching for to construct these relationships with me in a lot much less of a transactional manner. You and I’ve talked about this Lee, I bear in mind saying to you that that is like the longer term of B2B influencer advertising and marketing. We’re going to see extra firms begin to embrace the chance to type relationships with influencers versus, you understand, straight up transactional – make it much less of an promoting / transactional play. Like right here, I’ll pay you X quantity of dollars if you happen to share my factor, you understand? That’s extra of a B2C mannequin.

I feel in B2B what we’re seeing, and this has been fueled by the pandemic, is that we’re seeing these relationships begin to occur between manufacturers and influencers like me the place they’re reaching out to me proactively and saying, “Hey, we don’t have a thing right now, but we want to work with you. Can we sort of get to know each other?”

And so I feel we’re seeing an growing impetus towards an strategy that I really feel, has extra sustainability long-term and it’s the way in which that I wish to work personally. So yeah, I feel we’re seeing an entire lot extra of that.

What are some of the content material collaboration alternatives between B2B manufacturers and influencers that you simply’re seeing extra of in 2021?

Ann: There are yeah. I need to caveat this by saying that I’m talking from my private expertise versus, you understand, I haven’t essentially polled B2B entrepreneurs. So you in all probability have a greater perspective on this too and whether or not what I’m speaking about is definitely mirrored within the broader B2B group.

What I see is extra manufacturers trying to have a longterm relationship. Not simply, come communicate at our webinar, however, can we really take into consideration this over like a fiscal 12 months? What can we do collectively in Q1 and Q2 and Q3, in order that it turns into rather more of a, not fairly ambassador, however a minimum of extra of a model alignment, proper? So that I’m saying, “I believe in what you do” and and you’re saying that you simply belief me as effectively.

More long-term engagements and much less transactional is truthfully the muse of a profitable B2B influencer advertising and marketing program. @annhandley

I feel longer-term engagement with a belief basis to it’s undoubtedly one thing that I’m seeing. I’m additionally seeing these conditions the place even whether it is about offering a quote for this, or for instance, I’ll put one thing in my publication that’s type of sponsored however for me, it’s not something that you may purchase. It’s one thing the place I learn the paper and I imagine in it. I’ve a relationship with the corporate and so due to this fact I’ll share it with my viewers. So sure, it’s sponsored, however it’s like, it’s sponsored with my complete self. I suppose I’m a little bit bit goofy, however you understand what I imply, with integrity, I ought to say.

That is a state of affairs the place it’ll be over a number of months, so it’s not identical to a one and carried out. But are you able to assist us promote this and right here’s what’s in it for you and right here’s what we need to give to you and your viewers, that sort of factor. I suppose to sum up, rather more long-term engagements and much less transactional, which I feel is truthfully the muse of a profitable B2B influencer advertising and marketing program anyway. But you in all probability have extra perspective on that than I do.

It’s been actually fascinating what’s occurred not simply in phrases of content material creation and the thought management by means of partnerships between executives and exterior influencers, but additionally the relationships which can be being facilitated.

Ann: Yeah, that’s actually fascinating. I feel it makes complete sense, proper? Because prior to now 15 months of the pandemic, I feel that the manufacturers who’ve actually demonstrated that we’re all on this collectively, have really needed to present up in an actual human real manner and to be there for his or her audiences. I feel that’s partly what’s driving the type of collaboration that you simply’re speaking about.

Brands notice that to belief anyone, you’ve received to know them. And how will you belief a B2B model until you type of see the faces of the folks behind the model? @annhandley

Because I do assume manufacturers notice that to belief anyone, you’ve received to know them. And how will you belief a B2B model until you type of see the faces of the folks behind the model? I feel that cascades all through B2B advertising and marketing in addition to influencer advertising and marketing. I feel that’s clearly one space the place we’re seeing the place that involves life,

Along with greatest practices there are additionally dangerous practices. I’m curious if there are any dangerous behaviors in phrases of how folks attain out or have interaction with you?

Ann: I feel there’s been a couple of conditions the place I simply, I have a tendency to not have interaction mainly. That’s a state of affairs the place an enormous company will attain out and it’s clear that I’m one of many. Like I’m like half of a secure of influencers that they’re trying to. And they ask me to reply and fill out this Google type concerning the measurement of my viewers. I’m not going to do any of that. That’s not what I need and that’s not who I’m. It’s not what my model is all about. That’s simply not what I’m going to do.

It doesn’t matter to me how a lot cash is on the desk, as a result of injury to my model, status and my credibility far outweighs anything. @annhandley

So it doesn’t matter to me how a lot cash is on the desk, as a result of injury to my model, status and my credibility far outweighs anything. That’s a state of affairs the place I simply wouldn’t have interaction. I can’t even say that it’s a nasty follow however it’s de-motivating. When these are available we simply type of delete it instantly.

Or they arrive at it from a tactic standpoint. I get this rather a lot. For instance, my e-mail publication. I’ve talked rather a lot about it the previous couple of years, it’s grown fairly considerably and it has actually wholesome, open charges. The checklist is simply over 50,000 now. So it’s an excellent, sturdy checklist. I get rather a lot of individuals who say, will you share this in your publication? And I don’t know them. I don’t have a relationship with you. So if the onus is on me to do the legwork and work out who you’re, what your resolution is all about or what your piece of content material is all about, then I’m not going to do it.

Also, that’s not the position of the publication. If you understand me, and if you happen to’re on the checklist, then you understand that, proper? So, if you wish to get one thing in my publication, then that’s not step one. The first step is partaking me on social, get to know me. All the issues that, you understand, you do to start out a relationship. All the perfect practices round that. Not. “Will you share this in your newsletter?” That’s all of the stuff that simply finally ends up being deleted instantly.

What are some methods you possibly can think about somebody incorporating influencer content material in a publication?

Ann: If you’re a marketer and you’re publishing your individual publication and you need to work with influencers, attempting to determine a approach to spotlight them in that surroundings might be one thing easy, like highlighting some of their content material or highlighting them as a person. Or it might be one thing extra like inviting them to be like a visitor editor relying on the connection.

I feel there’s heaps of alternative there to affect the influencer as half of your model and not simply considering that your relationship with the influencer is simply within the social area. Because I feel an e-mail publication is simply such a wealthy alternative to speak instantly together with your viewers. The diploma to which you’ll invite influencers into that relationship goes to solidify your relationship with the influencer as effectively.

Who are some of your favourite influencers, you understand, that might, you understand, that function within the B2B world indirectly, whether or not it’s advertising and marketing or tech or some other place?

Ann: Avinash Kaushik at Google. I don’t even know if he would contemplate himself an influencer, however he’s. I feel largely as a result of his mind features so otherwise. I’m on his publication checklist. I like to learn his perspective and his level of view, and observe him on social for a similar causes.

Chris Penn is anyone else who you understand, once more, has a really completely different strategy. But if you happen to took Chris Penn’s mind and took my mind and type of put them collectively, you’d get like this complete physique marketer, you understand? I feel I come at it very a lot from the artwork and excessive contact perspective and he comes at it very a lot from a science and analytics standpoint. I recognize his message a lot as a result of he helps me elevate in what I do exactly by being attentive to what he’s doing.

I really like what April Dunford talks about round positioning. I feel she provides some actually priceless recommendation and I at all times love seeing what she has to say and listening to her level of view on issues.

You actually. I feel you, and I do know it’s like your present so I in all probability shouldn’t, however just like the work you’ve carried out round influencer advertising and marketing, I feel you completely are serving to to push the business ahead in phrases of like find out how to do it proper. And, and find out how to create applications that truly do maintain themselves long-term and ship worth in your group.

Thanks Ann! You are an important supply of inspiration to B2B entrepreneurs all around the world and a beautiful human being!

You can even watch the complete video interview with Ann Handley right here:

For extra B2B advertising and marketing insights, you possibly can subscribe to Ann’s superb Total ANNARCHY publication right here and join along with her on Twitter and LinkedIn. Also, don’t miss out on the MarketingProfessionals B2B Forum arising October 13-14 this 12 months.

Be certain to remain tuned to TopRank Marketing’s B2B Marketing Blog for our subsequent episode of Inside B2B Influence the place we’ll be answering the B2B advertising and marketing business’s most urgent questions concerning the position of affect in enterprise advertising and marketing.

You can even obtain The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report that includes insights from a survey of a whole bunch of B2B entrepreneurs plus case research and contributions from advertising and marketing executives at manufacturers together with Adobe, LinkedIn, IBM, Dell, SAP and many extra.

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