Unless you’ve been living under the rock for the last five years, you’ve heard a word – influencers at least once. Or maybe you’ve heard about influencer marketing. It is a form of social media activity that became very popular. It involves endorsement from influencers, people and organizations that possess deep knowledge in their domain. Here is a passage from Wikipedia that gives you some additional idea about influencer marketing.
There is a lack of consensus on what an “influencer” is. One writer defines them as “a range of third parties who exercise influence over the organization and its potential customers”. Another defines an influencer as a “third party who significantly shapes the customer’s purchasing decision, but may never be accountable for it.” Another says influencers are “activists, are well-connected, create an impact, have active minds, and are trendsetters”, though this set of attributes is aligned specifically to consumer markets.
Forrester analyst Michael Speyer notes that, in the case of small and medium-sized businesses, “IT sales are influenced by several parties, including peers, consultants, bloggers, and technology resellers”. He advises that “Vendors need to identify and characterize influencers inside their market. This requires a comprehensive influencer identification program and the establishment of criteria for ranking influencer impact on the decision process.”
Similar to a set of diverse influencer sources, influencers can play a variety of roles at different times in a decision process. This idea has been developed in influencer marketing by Brown and Hayes. They are capable of mapping out how and when particular types of influencers affect the decision process. This then enables marketers to selectively target influencers depending on their specific nature or domain of influence.
The influencer’s business and marketing are well developed in the consumer market. It is well understood and booming. However, here is interesting news – the influencers business opportunity in the B2B market is even bigger.
My attention was caught by the article – B2B Influencer Marketing: It’s kind of a big deal. It brings some interesting data points coming from The State of Influencer Marketing 2019: Benchmark Report.
Interestingly, a whopping 69% of influencer marketing campaigns are aimed at the B2C sector. B2B approaches are less exercised, which is a benefit to tech brands looking to capitalize on the opportunities. Tech decision-makers are not fatigued by this as a tech marketing approach, increasing authenticity and credibility of content supported by thought leaders
The influencer approach is efficient and works spectacularly well in the B2B tech space. The reason it isn’t – yet – a staple approach for most tech companies is because it’s challenging to get right and most companies haven’t figured out how to do it correctly. But it’s only a matter of time before every tech company catches up and integrates it as a staple in their marketing roadmap. It’s no longer a question of whether or not a tech brand will use influencers. Instead, it’s a question of how much money they’ll set aside in their budgets for influencer marketing.
As it looks from the survey above, one of the key challenges is to find influencers to participate.
The article made me think about the current business of consulting and services in enterprise PLM. As a business Product Lifecycle Management was mainly focused on enterprise businesses and OEM decisions. It was focused on large program and once winning OEM was spread down to supplier tiers.
The situation might be different soon. Engineering and manufacturing software is moving towards cloud and services. Thee decision process is getting more granular. Manufacturing companies are evaluating opportunities for SaaS solutions with faster ROI and a shorter time to market. It can introduce an interesting opportunity for companies and people familiar with the business, solutions, and technology to offer their consulting and services in a new form – influencing marketing.
It is still not clear how it can work. The first thing that comes to mind are platforms for business software reviews. Then there are multiple social platforms where people can share their experience and provide services. These are the first options to think about. However, online platforms, new SaaS software combined with the demand can open new ways to share PLM knowledge and experience.
What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM business will be changing in the next decade. For companies, the question of how to make the right PLM choice and decision is even more urgent than before. The decision timeline is shorter and the demand for faster ROI is bigger. Companies are looking for trusted sources of advice and recommendations on how to benefit from modern engineering and manufacturing software. It looks like opportunity PLM vendors still need to discover. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.