When B2B brands think of influencers, they often imagine big-dollar agreements in exchange for a single Tweet. Jon believes more in (and has successfully executed) a micro-influencer strategy, where he develops authentic relationships with up-and-coming influencers with zero dollars exchanged.
What is a Micro-Influencer?
Jon defines micro-influencers as the “trusted advisors” of your target prospect. They may not be the obvious influencers in terms of high social followings or an established media presence like a blog or podcast, but they are active participants on social platforms and receive consistent engagement in your defined category.
It’s likely your target prospect is over-messaged by vendors, so Jon suggests finding out who their influencers are, who they trust and where they turn for advice and suggestions. Jon gives the example of a small business owner: “The best way to access them would be through a trusted adviser,” said Jon. “It could be their lawyer, accountant, technology reseller or broker. It could be a lot of different people. You want to be able to access the core prospect or customer and understand who their trusted advisor is.”
How to Build Relationships with B2B Micro-Influencers
Jon follows a simple yet impactful formula when building relationships with B2B micro-influencers.
The first step is to identify which platform the influencer engages and is active on, which is typically some form of social media. Jon suggests reading and listening to the micro-influencer’s content to gain a better understanding of what inspires them and their audience.
The next step would be to engage with the influencer. In addition to commenting on their posts with your perspective, be a resource to the influencer when they post a question or need a recommendation. Start sharing the influencers’ content on your own platforms with your spin and commentary, tagging them for visibility. You want to demonstrate to the influencer you agree with their basic philosophies, principles and stance — without hawking your product.
“If you do share content regularly, you will build this community around you of prospects, customers and, ideally, their influencers,” said Jon.
When and How to Make Direct Outreach
If you’ve put the time into building a relationship with an influencer, Jon emphasizes that your name should be familiar when you finally reach out and ask for a meeting. In that first meeting, you simply discuss your joint interests, learn more about each other’s current needs and how you can add value to each other.
This approach produces a much more natural value exchange where you can offer something to help them, and they offer something that helps you. Whether that is giving them your product for free so they can provide feedback, asking for them to contribute to a webinar or speaking at a user conference, there are many ways a micro-influencer can add value to your B2B brand without paying them a fee.
Jon believes if you make outreach to an influencer and they ask for a payment, it’s because you haven’t put in the upfront work to build a relationship. In Jon’s two successful SaaS companies, he has never once paid an influencer — despite having thousands of micro-influencers in his network.
“Those influencers will open the door for you to have those conversations where you don’t have to pay them,” said Jon. “You could build a relationship with them, where they will in-kind help you achieve your dreams.”
For more of Jon’s insights, listen to Episode 313 of SaaS Half Full.