MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

The Evolution of Influence: Rethinking How B2B Brands Partner With Experts

Influencer marketing isn’t what a lot of B2B brands think it is.

As Ashley Zeckman (VP Strategy & Customer Success at Onalytica) explains in this except from her 2022 presentation at B2B Forum:

Influencers are not Affiliates!

So what ARE they? And how do they fit into your marketing strategy?

To find out, watch Ashley’s clip or read the transcript below.


A lot of brands come to us in a bit of a panic sometimes, and they’re like, “I need to drive engagement on social. I need to generate leads. I need to do this really fast.”

And their perception of influencer marketing is that of working with the Kardashians, right? Where you see, “hey, come by Taco Bell, get some great tacos #ad.” Right?

That’s not what we’re talking about here.

Influencers are not affiliates. There are opportunities [to be an affiliate] in some cases. And there are some influencers that do affiliate marketing. But at the crux of it, that’s not how it works exactly.

So saying, “generate some leads for us and you’ll get this much money,” doesn’t work very well. 

But it’s something that people are very interested in, because they maybe don’t have an in-depth understanding of how to work with these influencers.

There’s also a lot of times,”can you share this piece of content that we wrote? We didn’t ask you to be a part of it. You’re not included in it. But can you share it for us, for our brand?”

And this is all part of that “shouting things out into the social atmosphere,” right?

There’s also, you know, “can you promote this gated asset? It doesn’t really align with you, your audience, but hey, we need some help sharing it.” Or, “it’d be really great for you if you had our CEO on your podcast.”

I think it can be very tempting to do things like this. But is this how you would approach any other aspect of your content marketing? Probably not, right? So you need to be thoughtful about how you’re doing this.

So instead, find the different ways to collaborate with influencers. It could be implementing an always-on program where you’re consistently working with a smaller group of influencers to co-create content, to have them speak at events, to collaborate in a number of different ways.

You could also, if you’re just starting out or just looking to start out, you can start simply. It could be that you start with a blog post of, “Here are 20 influencers to follow in supply-chain,” right? “These are experts that you need to follow, that you need to be paying attention to.” And it could be sourcing short quotes.

You don’t have to go big to get started. You just have to be thoughtful about how you’re doing it. 

And ultimately, you need to architect your content just as you would with any other piece of your marketing. Again, not all of these activities have to include influencers. But many of them could. 

How are you going to use these different pieces of content together to ultimately drive to what you want your audience to do? Do you want them to fill out a form? Do you want to have them share this great piece of content you created? What does that look like for you?

Be an architect from the beginning, instead of waiting ‘till you are too far down the path. These other little color coded boxes are just to indicate how you might promote that piece of content. 

So it could be you have organic social [that] paid social influencers help promote. If you have an employee advocacy or executive thought leadership program, that could be part of it as well. 

And honestly, one of these, probably you could get it done in like 15 minutes, right? And then you can use this as sort of your guiding force for when you’re working with influencers, to connect it to the rest of your B2B content strategy.

Published 6/7/23

B2B Forum is packed with marketing insights, strategies, and tactics taken from the real world experience of over forty industry experts, packaged into context you can actually put to use.

Join us in Boston for B2B Forum 2024 this coming November 12-14, 2024. Early buyers get B2B Forum tickets at their lowest rate, and discounted hotel rooms are available while they last.


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