IT decision makers (ITDMs) don’t just go to a website, add “enterprise security software” to their shopping cart and check out. They research, ask questions, ask more questions, spend countless hours online and seek peer advice before making a decision. The usual sales cycle for enterprise software is 12 to 18 months.
B2B purchase behavior has dramatically changed over the last few years. Most research for software solutions start in Google, with most decision makers getting as far as two-thirds through the buyer’s journey before they reach out to a vendor, assuming that the vendor meets the minimum technical requirements.
This audience is not easy to reach, and controlling the narrative they’re exposed to is even more challenging. They are sophisticated, well-educated and extremely skeptical about all things marketing. They dislike sales people, they don’t read press releases or company websites and they often avoid any type of direct interaction with a business until they decide it’s time.
We can’t blame them though. They are the most marketed-to segment online today. Every technology company with a marketing budget and a brand message is trying to reach this same audience, every single day, multiple times a day and in every possible channel at their disposal.
Many brands today are using alternative ways to reach IT decision makers and it’s working.
A report published earlier this year showed that 43% of marketers are experimenting with influencer programs, and an even higher percentage claims that these programs are strategic.
But what exactly is influencer marketing? Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 different answers—and if you add “B2B” to the conversation, you’ll get blank stares.
For the most part, influencer marketing for consumer brands is different and require a slightly altered strategy. There are several networks in the market like Izea, Clever and OpenInfluence that give brands instant access to groups of Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube micro influencers. If you have a budget, a strategy and creative assets, you can turn on and off influencer programs fairly quickly.
B2B influencer marketing is a bit more complicated. Identifying the right influencers is the most critical step, and it’s far beyond just looking at follower count. It requires research—a lot of research.
This post originally appeared on Linkedin.