I think organisations are too often choosing the easiest influencers to outreach to – the ones that will provide the most immediate gratification. And they’re choosing to ignore the harder to reach but more valuable long-term ones. Not surprising maybe, but not a good approach. For two reasons.
The obvious reason is, as I said, because of immediate gratification. A number of journalists and industry analysts can often be among the top influencers in a given B2B marketplace. These people actively want to hear from players in the market – they’re likely to be receptive to your outreach and have the ability to very rapidly turn your opinions into articles, reports, posts and more. It’s easy to see the bang for your buck. And easy to report back to your bosses on the result.
A second and equally important reason is that most execs. and most marketing people know how to approach journalists and industry analysts – they know what they’re likely to be interested in, and how they’re meant to deliver that information. They feel comfortable in that environment.
That’s a very different situation from having to reach out to say, an industry regulator, a business unit leader in a top-tier consultancy or an academic. What on earth do you say to them? What might you have that’s of interest to them? What’s the protocol for contacting them? And what should you expect as an outcome? It’s extra nerve-wracking when you don’t even know what success would look like.
And so even when you think you’ve identified your company’s top market influencers, our experience is that time and time again our clients’ marketing outreach personnel are choosing the same well travelled route, favoring the journalists and industry analysts even when others have been shown to be way more important.
“Don’t chase any goal you can’t measure” is well-worn political advice given inside many organisations. But it’s this attitude that is stopping progress in your influencer outreach model. You need to pre-decide how you’re going to measure your progress with the various influencer categories from the outset. It’ll require more than one set of metrics – the same criteria wont be appropriate for all. Otherwise despite the best intentions you’ll retrench to the default influencers – journalists and analysts. And from lofty goals you’ll be back to square one.