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The other day, I had a friendly disagreement with a good friend who is a CMO of a B2B tech startup about building influence with his brand and where to reach an extremely narrow buyer persona. Our conversation made me realize that many CMOs and execs at B2B tech companies are also probably struggling with the grand task of influence-building and what it exactly means – inspiring me to take it to the blogosphere.

More than ever, people thrive from personalized experiences, and establishing yourself and your brand as an industry influencer can be crucial to the success of your organization. Here are four elements to building influence that tech pros need to know before you get started.

  1. Identify your buyer personas.
    Understanding your target customers helps lay out everything you’ll do with your marketing and sales team, and developing personas will help you better engage with your existing customers (the most important ones) and prospects. By identifying your buyer persona, you can more effectively craft marketing content and channels, sales pitches and product or feature development to the needs, interests, behaviors and concerns of different customer groups.
  1. Let your voice be heard through media relations. Pro tip: it’s beyond the trades.
    Once you understand your target buyer, identify the specific trade publications they’ll be interested in, but go beyond those, too. With the consolidation of media in today’s landscape, people are influenced by more than just the magazines that land on their desk at work or in their corporate inbox. They’re influenced by conversations in communities like Reddit, by a blog post they read on Medium, by what they hear on NPR on their commute home, etc. Even if you’re focused on a solidly defined buyer, they’re reading more than just their usual trade media. Broader media is important, as well.
  1. Spark your momentum through social media programs.
    Every company needs a social media presence. I can’t say this enough. Sure, it’s a crowded marketplace, but social media opens the two-way dialogue between you and your audience that was once never there. However, in order to successfully own and make specific platforms work for you, your executives and your company, you’ll need to focus on this every single day. For example, you can participate in Twitter chats, join LinkedIn groups your audience members are active in, share articles that your audience will find helpful, etc.
  1. Win trust through blogger and influencer programs.
    Influencer marketing helps brands gain awareness and establish authenticity with new audiences. And, sure, that sounds great, but how do you connect with the right influencers to promote your brand and product? Sounds daunting – and expensive. But, it doesn’t have to be.

While the main goal of these influencer programs is to drive leads, the influencer program will also help to create quality backlinks, drive traffic and increase brand recognition. Some examples of activities can include:

  • Writing guest blog posts;
  • Participating in sponsored articles, research, white papers or other content on the influencer’s site;
  • Featuring an executive on a podcast or video interview;
  • Facilitating a dedicated email send to an influencer’s database;
  • Running display ads or other sponsorships on an influencer’s site;
  • Hosting a joint or sponsored webinar; and
  • Securing an influencer for a speaking engagement or event appearance.

In today’s world of the 8-second attention span and on-the-go execs, starting and growing a business is becoming more challenging – you must differentiate your brand from competitors. From our experience working with startups and B2B tech brands, the most successful organizations are those who took the time to understand what it takes to build influence and invested in themselves, their online presence and content.