Estimated Reading Time 19 minutes
B2B Marketers need to wake up and smell the influencer coffee.
So before I begin and for the sake of clarity, I thought it best to define what the word ‘influencer’ actually means.
Courtesy of the Cambridge University Press
Why do we sell in a way we don’t want to buy?
Looking at an Instagram post the other day, I noticed there is a distinct lack of understanding or even any level of intent by those in the corporate world, to embrace the growing impact of social media.
The post was created by Lori Lewis and Officially Chad. A clever infographic that looked at what happens in 1 minute on the internet. It is a fantastic representation of the intensity in which all our lives are consumed by a plethora of attention grabbing platforms that when boiled down, are actually managed by 7 companies.
No surprises as to who these companies are but what may be surprising is that many brands are failing to see the need to use frictionless engagement through influencers as part of their marketing mix. Choosing instead to stick with traditional channels and then wondering why their engagement has fallen.
The reason for this lack of true engagement on Social Media is that many companies see Social as a selling channel. Furthermore, they schedule a huge amount of content that, if they have got to the point of measuring and analysing it, will find a lot of their efforts are pointless and in turn were a complete waste of time and energy.
Yet they continue on this quest of clogging up their channels in the faint hope someone will see their post, contact them and buy their product or service. Like hen’s teeth, this invariably never happens and so it goes on.
This is frustrating for both the individuals being bombarded by useless content and more so for the brand as they figure out more ways to shift product through content.
What makes a business influencer?
As we can see from above, influencer marketing in all its various forms has been heaping since marketing started – it just never had a specific name.
So an influencer in business, unlike its B2C counterpart, is far more of a specialist in his or her chosen field. This field may expand out into other areas, however the core role of the influencer in business is to help, educate and inform the end user. This is normally done through the power of Social Media channels and where appropriate, public speaking engagements.
Though there are many influencers, I thought it would be best to focus on those influencers that are in vogue now and are making a major impact on their vast business audience.
Let’s focus on four major influencers worldwide and then do future posts looking at four leading female business influencers and then four major influencers in the digital marketing world.
But to start with, four behemoths that have an impact on us all.
Great business influencers today
I have chosen these four, as they resonate not just with me as a founder and director of a number of companies, but also with various people within my team, all at different levels and journeys of their career.
The top business influencers today are measured by a variety of metrics. Impact, growth, followers, engagements. Below, I have highlighted the main areas of focus and what makes them not just good, but great.
So my top business influencers are:
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- Simon Sinek
- Tony Robbins
- Tim Ferriss
Gary Vaynerchuk is nothing less than a phenomena. He is right now, the No.1 business influencer in the world. Vaynerchuk, or Gary Vee as he is affectionately known, has quietly built his personal brand to help, educate and emotionally engage with those that are running a business or working within business. Again, like the other business influencers out there at the top of their game, Vaynerchuk helps people find their purpose and extols brands to use Social Media and Digital Marketing to grow their personal brands and build businesses at scale.
Gary Vaynerchuk is the son of Russian immigrant parents who moved from their native Belarus to live in a studio apartment in Queens, New York.
Gary started a lemonade stall whilst at school and started hustling to make money. When he dropped out of college, he started working at his Dad’s Off Licence (Liquor Store) and saw an opportunity.
Gary built a website, which was a brave new thing in the 80s and started using email marketing to reach local customers. As online orders increased, Gary was one of the first people to see the cost-effective value of Google AdWords (PPC) and almost single handedly used built his father’s business from a corner shop into a multi-million dollar business.
Today Gary is the CEO of VaynerMedia, a digital marketing agency headquartered in New York with offices around the world.
- Crush It
- Crushing It
- Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook
- The Thank You Economy
- Ask Gary Vee
Simon Sinek first came to prominence when he did a Ted Talk to a small unassuming crowd at Puget Sound, USA in 2009. It has since become one of the most watched Ted Talks of all time with almost 40 million views.
The talk worked well. Part of its charm was that Sinek asks why certain leaders and brands inspire, while others in the same industry become also-rans. He called the talk, and his subsequent books and talks as ‘Start with Why’. The why, or finding your why and why you exist, creates purpose and differentiates true leaders both as individuals and as innovators. Sinek uses the examples of murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King and computer company, Apple as those that had found their why.
Sinek is in demand as a speaker on everything from leadership, value and culture in the workplace. His approach is that we all can become the leaders we never had.
Tony Robbins is regarded by many as the original modern day business influencer. Unlike many of his business contemporaries like Sir Richard Branson or Mark Cuban, Robbins had not started a business empire per se, but had built a business off the back of helping business people deal with what was important. Find themselves first before fixing the business.
This has led Tony Robbins to become the adviser and so called and rather unflattering title of guru of self-help to leading sports stars, Hollywood actors, presidents, astronauts and business leaders throughout the world. Robbins has tried to shake off the guru image in a recent Netflix documentary entitled, I am not your guru.
I have been lucky enough to see and meet Tony Robbins about 20 years ago when he packed out Wembley Arena in one of his Unleash The Power Within weekends. It was an experience I will never forget as it had the whole crown individually walking over 20 feet of burning hot coals. The reason was to emphasise what many of these great business influencers talk about in achieving success, in that what the mind conceives, the mind believes.
Robbins also released books that would become New York Times No.1 bestsellers back in the late 80s and early 90s – Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within. Though not everyone’s cup of tea, he remains to this day one of the most respected and powerful business influencers.
Tim Ferriss is an author, prolific podcaster and speaker. Tim is also an Angel investor and counts early investments in StumbleUpon and Shopify as a few successful ventures. He came to prominence via his first book, the 4-hour Work Week, who’s strapline was, Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich. It was a runaway success and many readers followed Tim’s exploits as he shared them in his podcasts.
Tim Ferriss’ appeal as a business influencer is driven by his Podcast, ‘The Tim Ferriss Show’ where he interviews leaders from all walks of life. These are top business people, CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, brain surgeons. athletes etc., anyone who has excelled in their field and how they have got there.
These extensive, intriguing and must listen to interviews in his podcast, led him to write these down and find the common denominator in all these successful people. He disappeared for a while to write the book and finally came out with Tools of Titans, that according to the strapline looked at: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.
So, it’s great that these four men are at the top of their game. So what? How can you as an individual or business take advantage of becoming a B2B influencer in 2018 and beyond? How can you become a fire brand for your company and reap the benefits that are associated with this? Let’s start at the beginning.
None of these business influencers are an overnight success. As American actor aptly puts it, “My dad told me, ‘It takes fifteen years to be an overnight success’, and it took me seventeen and a half years”. In short, start now and reap the rewards in the future. Doing something now creates momentum and will deliver results that are both unexpected and rewarding.
Where to start?
Here are few tips to start with taken from a variety of sources and work well for the people mentioned above.
Cogito, ergo sum – I think, therefore I am.
The no.1 driver for business success. What you believe you achieve. Easier said than done but putting a plan together to fix your approach to life and business is the fundamental start point and plays a bigger role than people think. In fact, without fixing this, the rest will not follow.
When talking with Bobby Collinson at Lords last week he mentioned something that struck a chord with me. Bobby is a the charismatic leader of Hello Daisy, a wellness technology aimed at improving the life of the elderly. In our conversation he mentioned a quote from Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. The quote? “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
Boom! Just like that, it resonated highly.
Will Durant (not Aristotle), the American writer re emphasised this, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Like exercise and adding to the points above. Getting into good habits is all part of the influencer process.
- Regular updates on social media
- posting and distributing blogs
- creating and sharing a podcast
- Sharing knowledge for free on YouTube
- Share thoughts on Twitter and Instagram daily
Write down or note your activities daily. Every morning or last thing at night. Why? Because it will help you look at the week and assess your accomplishments and see what works and what doesn’t. By noting down what you do you can work on the areas that need attention and accentuate areas that work.
You will realise quite quick when you measure and reflect, that your journey has started.
Just do it
Knowing what you know. Start.
Thanks for reading and happy influencing.