Success factors for B2B influencer programs

Thought Leadership, or B2B influencer marketing, has become an increasingly important theme within B2B marketing, and that is not surprising. More than half of all decision-makers spend an hour or more per week reading thought leadership content. And that precious time is used to gain knowledge to make a business purchase decision. Business influencers are therefore the turbo boost to your new business. 

In addition to sales or lead generation, a thought leader can also be used for recruitment purposes. By showing inside-out what your strengths as an employer are, you can convince potential employees on the labor market of the career opportunities at your company. 

Setting up a thought leadership programme

The objectives and associated KPIs of a thought leadership programme can therefore range from branding or sales to recruitment. A thought leadership programme is made up of phases that generate brand awareness, traffic and conversion. Depending on the objectives, you then choose the right thought leader. 

Collaborating with external thought leaders who have built up authority and reach is the way to boost your sales. In addition to external thought leaders, your customers or employees can also play an important role; these are internal thought leaders that you deploy for your programme. We see this more often in recruitment programmes. 

The right match

The most important thing in Influencer Marketing is the right match. If the thought leader and his/her target audience do not match the product or service they are promoting, you should prepare yourself for a campaign that will not meet your expectations. Within B2C campaigns, it still happens that brands are put in a bad light because the influencer's target group does not respond to the product or service as they had thought.

As with B2C influencer marketing, it is also important in B2B to think carefully about the target group you want to reach and which thought leader would be a good fit. You want to be online where your target group already is. Look for experts who fit your product or service and your objectives and explore the possibilities together.

Authenticity is one of the most important points on which you select your thought leader. Why do you go for expert x and not expert y? Does the tone of voice match? Does the portfolio match your brand 1:1? How does he/she position himself/herself in the market? These are all questions to consider when looking for the right thought leader for your programme. And of course, don't forget the track record. How does the fan base respond to previous content or influencer programmes?


In addition to the points mentioned above, you should also look at knowledge and expertise. Every thought leader has knowledge of a certain subject. One thought leader may touch on various topics, such as Digitalisation, Internet of Things and Smart Mobility. While another thought leader may be very niche, focusing for example on Innovation and Smart Cities in the medical sector. For each campaign, you link the thought leaders who have common ground with your product, service or market and your objectives. 

In addition to using thought leaders from outside your organization, it is also an option to look at people within your organization who have a suitable profile. They often already radiate the right brand promise and know better than anyone what trends are playing in the market.

The most common Thought Leadership channel is LinkedIn, but business-related content can also be effective on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Think for example of a Q&A video, a panel discussion or table talk, a business call or not to forget a podcast.

Trust B2B influencers

Last but not least, don't forget that Influencer Marketing is a paid form of marketing. You try to influence the behavior of your target group. An authentic recommendation about a product or service is crucial. Fans trust a thought leader and will look past content that does not fit the thought leader in question or clashes with an opinion from the past. Retaining the trust of the target group is key to a successful B2B influencer programme. 


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John Meulemans

Strategy Director & Partner Endeavour

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