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Lay of the Brand Podcast

B2B Influencer Marketing with Carter Hostelley of LeadTail
Lay of the Brand Episode 29 B2B influencer marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t just for B2C brands. It can be highly effective for B2B outreach to build awareness and trust. Carter Hostelley of LeadTail spells out how B2B marketers and PR pros can and should build relationships with respected voices — and how you (or your CEO) can become an influencer, too.

influencers are folks that have a platform and have an audience. And the real key from a B2B marketer’s standpoint is that audience is pretty much who these companies want to sell to. 

— Carter Hostelley, CEO, LeadTail

About our guest: Carter Hostelley is CEO of LeadTail, a B2B social marketing agency that helps brands reach, engage, and understand target buyers in much deeper ways.

Episode transcript (edited for clarity):

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Welcome to Lay of the Brand, where we talk with the experts on tech marketing, creative and PR to learn what’s new, what’s working and what’s next.

I’m Peter Jacobs with Merritt Group. Influencers are all over social media. But, this trend goes beyond fashion tips and recipe hacks. For B2B tech marketers and PR pros, reaching the people who your prospects and customers listen to can make a huge difference in how you’re perceived by the market. But, what makes someone a B2B influencer and how can you convince them to be an advocate for your solutions? To find out all that more, we’re joined by Carter Hostelley, of B2B social media agency LeadTail. Thanks for being here, Carter.

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail: Absolutely. Thanks for having me on the show. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Let’s do some level setting, so some of the basics to get started. What makes someone an influencer? How does someone earn that title, or do they just crown themselves?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  Yeah, it’s really interesting. So, I had sort of been in the influencer marketing space for B2B for gosh, almost 10 years now. And it has really evolved over that time. So, where “influencers” sort of were first identified was coming out of social media and how big their social audience was. So, basically, simplified, if you had tens of thousands of what was then called Twitter followers, you were crowned an influencer is really the simple way to think about it. 

But over time, it’s really evolved and you know, we all become fairly familiar with these influencers, because not only do they have a social footprint, but they’re also the ones that are speaking at the industry conferences, right? There’s a difference between who keynotes something versus who’s on a panel, et cetera. 

And really, as the platforms have evolved, moving from social media, to something like podcasting, like we’re on now, and very much folks creating their YouTube channel: influencers are folks that have a platform and have an audience. 

And the real key from a B2B marketer’s standpoint is that audience is pretty much who these companies want to sell to. And that is really it. So, it’s hard to be an influencer almost by definition if you don’t have some sort of platform: whether you write, have a podcast, whether you’re creating videos, or whether you’re the ones that are guesting on all these things. So having a platform. 

The nice thing is, the platform no longer has to be 10s of 1000s or hundreds of 1000s of folks. It can be highly niche-y as long as it’s exactly the audience that some vendor out there wants to sell into. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: We hear a lot about thought leadership. Are thought leaders influencers, are influencers thought leaders, are they the same thing? Are they different? How does that work?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  I tell you, thought leadership is one of the sort of funny things I have been on a quest over the last few years. And let me be clear, nobody’s biting on this idea, which is can we replace the phrase thought leadership with “valued member of the community.” I also think it prompts the right question, which is, “Well, who is our community, how can I provide value?” Because today, often, thought leadership, I believe, is synonymous with, “I’m trying to be the smartest person in every room I’m in.” 

The ironic thing there, Peter, is we all know what it’s like to be with the person that’s trying to be the smartest person in every room they’re in, right? So really, when we think about thought leadership, as I mentioned, you’re having some sort of platform, let me dive in a little bit further. Someone that truly has some opinions, and not be some regurgitation of what everyone else is saying. 

So number one, you got to have thoughts and then number two, these thoughts should be leading us somewhere as far as, “How do we get from where the world is today to where the world is going tomorrow?” 

And the other truth is most executives, I have found, are not thought leaders, and I don’t mean that in any sort of negative sense. What I mean is, they may be more of someone that manages change. They may be more someone that is an advocate for the company. They may be more someone that keeps the wheels oiled and the machine running. 

So finding the right brand persona that really reflects how an executive truly helps and can provide value is the key way to think about it versus this broad term of thought leadership where, as I said before, executives are trying to prove that they’re the smartest person in the room. Does that make sense?

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Yeah, absolutely. And as you said earlier, the idea that you’ve got a platform you have a following is taking it really a step further, but also in a slightly different direction, to be influential, to get people to seek you out for your information. That’s a whole different thing. And this idea of contributing value to the community seems to be an essential part of both personas. 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  By definition, if you don’t have an audience listening to you, then you know, it’s the tree falling in the forest sort of thing. Does anyone really hear it, right? So you do have to have some viewpoints, some perspective and then over time, you do need to build an audience and preferably, an audience of your potential buyers that turn to you to get your perspective on things. 

And of course, the power of thought leadership, the power of having true opinion and perspective, is that the folks that are your audience, the folks that turn to you, well, then you start to own the mindshare that you’re the person someone should talk to, if they’re trying to figure out these couple things. 

Of course, they tell their network, and over time your influence grows, and your audience grows because of this sort of thought leadership and perspective you have.

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Alright, so we’ve got journalists and writers at publications, you’ve got industry experts at companies. You’ve got independent pundits and consultants, people who are using their LinkedIn platform or their blog platform or their podcasts to get ideas out into the marketplace. Do you differentiate between them? Or could they all be influencers?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  Yeah, they all could be influencers and a lot of it is defined by, you know, what the goal is? So if I put it in practical terms, if a brand, a B2B brand said to me, hey, we need to do influencer marketing campaigns, Peter, no surprise to you, my first question is, well, what’s the goal of the campaign? What are we trying to achieve? And what is the context for it? Is it tying an influencer into a user conference? You know, is it, “How do we get more people on a webinar?” What is the context? 

And it also depends on who is it you’re trying to get in front of. There’s a different type of influence that happens if you’re trying to get, you know, build awareness with a C-suite executive that handles a budget that’s very different trying to influence somebody that is on the front lines that is actually doing the roll-up-the-sleeves work. And they’re going to be influenced by someone else that understands their job and has done their job and better yet, is doing their job but has figured out a better way. 

So journalists continue to be very influential at the C-suite, highest level, right? I always say as a salesperson, if you reach into a company and your buyer says, “Oh, I think I’ve heard of you,” it’s high fives all around. So, that’s how PR is always thought about the traditional sort of air cover thing. 

On the other hand, if you’re selling a product, or tool, or solution, and you’re really selling it to the user of it, well, truthfully, they’re not going to care a lot about earned media. But someone that is active in the community and known as the person that figure stuff out?  Well, If you get them to do a blog post for you on your blog, well, that could be highly influential for them or if you get them to speak on a webinar, talking about how your solution helps solve these problems can be very, very influential.

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Let’s talk about that earned-vs-paid media in this context. If you’re using paid media to connect with an influencer, or perhaps a well known brand that has reach and influence — a media brand — does that impact the trust that people have in the content or in the source?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  No, I don’t believe so. I think where the trust is impacted, and talking to I mean, I’ve talked to so many and worked with so many B2B influencers. The number one thing that they will not be okay with is being a paid shill. Meaning, having the client say, “I want you to say this about our product,” as if it’s a B2C Instagram celebrity endorsement. They are highly, highly, highly sensitized, as they should be to their reputations, because in the context of B2B, these are people with 15-20 plus years of hard earned experience and trust that they built and reputation they built. 

Now if you work with them on collaborating on a piece of content, then there is no negative impact at all to running a LinkedIn ad against that, whether it’s they’re, the influencer is a guest on a webinar or guest host or the influencer has contributed putting together a white paper, whatever it is. There’s no trust lost in promoting that piece of content. I differentiate that from the B2C world where you’re promoting an Instagram post with an influencer, you know, showing off your product. But in the B2B world, it starts with, the influencer has to feel very comfortable about what they’re going to say from a reputational standpoint, right?

And what that means practically from implementation, it means, hey if they haven’t demoed your product or don’t really understand your product, well get ‘em to align on your hypothesis or why your product exists, right? Some aspect of where AI is going or digital transformation or cybersecurity. 

And you can align them around your hypothesis that’s driving your product roadmap, great. But don’t try to ask them and say how great your product is if they don’t, haven’t used it and don’t believe that fundamentally. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: You mentioned channels that influencers could potentially be using. Does the channel affect the engagement when it comes to a B2B audience?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  Well, what I would say is that if you’re working with an influencer that is a podcaster, then that’s really the channel and where their platform works best, right? So if they’re a podcaster, or if their presence and influence is on YouTube, guess which platform you should lean into: it’s YouTube. 

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t do a LinkedIn post or some of these other things. You always want to be thinking about where the platform for the influencer is and then lean into that, ’cause clearly, you’re going to have the most credibility with their audience on their platform — again, YouTube, LinkedIn, whatever it is — and then you can look at writing a LinkedIn post or sort of distributing that further. 

But it would be silly to, for example, have a YouTube influencer with a strong B2B audience put together a YouTube video, and then you’re not doing any YouTube ads, but instead just doing LinkedIn ads. It doesn’t mean the LinkedIn ads aren’t gonna work, but the LinkedIn audience, that influencer may not be as influential on that platform, if that makes sense. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: No, that absolutely makes sense. You need to be where the content is and where the audience is looking for that content. 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  And yeah, and just to say, even more explicitly, you should be leaning into whatever platform the influencer is influential on as your first sort of thinking. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Let’s talk about events as a channel. You’ve got live events, which of course have come back since we’ve gotten out of the COVID days, as well as webinars, more of a spoken sort of situation as opposed to a written situation. Do you find that brands can easily work with influencers in those kinds of venues?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  Yeah, absolutely. Again, it depends on what the goal is, right? If you said to me, “Hey, we want to tie influencers into our upcoming user conference or even even hanging out with us at the booth” because they’re spending a ton at an industry conference. I’m like, Okay, well, what is your goal again, is your goal to support the sales team selling into C-suite? That may be one type of influencer. Is your goal to really get the roll-up-the-sleeves folks to things. So that may be a different type of influencer. And then in the context of that, and then they may be doing different things. 

So obviously, if you’re having a panel on how to figure out very discrete problems around things, well, then having an influencer on that panel that really hasn’t done the job in 20 years, you know, doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. 

And I’ve heard that from folks. I’ve heard, “Sure, they’re influential in a broad sense, but they haven’t done this job that I do in 10-20 years, so why should I ever listen to them?” So it continues to be, whether it’s in a live setting or a text or video, whatever it is, it’s really about matching the right influencer, given the goals and given the specific audience you’re trying to influence. 

And I think this is where sometimes people make mistakes, because I still come across too many instances where they’re caught up in how many followers they have, and not, “Well, wait a minute. Is their domain very specific to your product and who your buyer is and what your goals are?” 

And it used to be talking about Twitter followers. Now, it’s LinkedIn followers, right? So I always say, let’s not over rotate on how big their audience is. And instead, let’s lean into who is most influential for your community of buyers at the level you care about.

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: I imagine that you speak with executives at your clients who say I want to be an influencer. What do you say to somebody who has that as a goal? 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  Okay, so we break it down into this sort of two things. And one of the first things I’ll do, is I’ll take a look at their LinkedIn profile. And I sort of, I’m trying to understand the problem set to begin with, and I go, “Okay, you know, many executives these days, especially at enterprise customers, may have already more than 10,000 followers on LinkedIn.” Right? And I always say, hey, once you get north to three to 5000, and okay, we’re starting to solve the audience piece, then I moved to the platform question. 

Because it’s very ironic, because you’ll find executives that may have 10,000 plus followers, they’re not even active on LinkedIn. Right? And I go, “Okay, I’m glad we’re having this conversation.” Because, you know, a lot of folks are very potentially interested in what you have to say. So now let’s talk about your platform — meaning, what is it that you have to say. 

And one of the issues I have, as you know, I love all our PR friends, in particular, the Merritt Group. But I will say sometimes, the executives in conversations with me feel like — truthfully, they don’t feel like they’re thought leaders because, almost by definition, thought leadership is a future oriented state. 

And I would say look, thought leader is only one persona. Another is change agent, another is operational executive. So let’s find the right persona for you and then make sure you’re focused on highlighting the things that make you a world-class executive for that persona. And that’s why I really try to move away, or let me say it the right way, try to drill into a broad notion of leadership. 

Now, once you say okay, I understand the persona, now let’s talk about increasing the influence. This can then be tied into very discrete things, like how do we get you more active on LinkedIn? How do we make sure you’re not just promoting your brand, the company you work for? It’s starting to develop your own executive brand. 

How do we make sure that you’re trying to interact with the existing influencers out there? And how do we make sure that you’re adding value to the community — these sort of engines — and take it away from what I call this misconception of, “How do I become as famous as the 70s rock star” kind of stuff. 

And really boils down into, “Well, why do customers like to talk to you? And what value do they get? What insights can you provide them?” And once the executive started talking about that, I’m like, “Wonderful! Let’s post about this and your audience and influence will grow over time simply from them.” 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Would you ever try to talk to an executive out of it? 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  Typically, it’s based on their misconceptions. So if they say I want to be a thought leader, but the truth is, they don’t have any strong perspectives, they don’t have any unique perspectives, that’ll be where I try to move away from the notion of thought leadership to what they really are, number one. 

Number two is if their expectations are misaligned. Again, my sort of a little bit of snark here is the 70s rock star kind of thing, right? And if they’re like, “Hey, I have 1600 LinkedIn followers today, and I want to have 100,000.” I’m like, “Well, let me reorient expectations. Let me understand why you want to be influential, for what goal. Is it building your professional brand? Is it helping you to drive more sales? Is it, whatever it is?” 

But a lot of it is going to be not talking them out of it, making sure it reflects who they really are, number one. And then number two, get away from influence being defined simply by how many followers they have, to really the quality of the conversations that they’re going to have, and that they will grow this sort of audience over time. 

And so it’s really aligning expectations around this and being very clear in how they should think about it. And I always ask, “Why?” because the funny thing is, and folks don’t talk about this, there are two types of influence. Influence one is the person is answering the questions. Influence two, Peter, is yourself, the person asking the questions. 

Often, once we flip this lens, we can say, “Look, you may be uncomfortable with being influencer number one and trying to share all these big thoughts and perspectives, irrespective how the PR team is saying, “Hey, you should be doing this.”  But you may be very comfortable with the person being influential from being the person that asks the questions.” 

Even then that takes it down a path to go, “Okay. Well, maybe then we should be setting up a LinkedIn Live series for you. And you’re the one interviewing folks within the community and you’re building your influence that way.” Versus always trying to be the one that has the thoughts and being very uncomfortable on that. 

And of course, if you’re uncomfortable with that, and you’re not going to appear authentic, and everything’s going to feel it scripted. And it’s just not going to fizzle because we’re all too sophisticated these days. And frankly, too cynical to not see through that pretty quickly. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Well, that speaks to your point of contributing to the community, not just throwing information out there but becoming part of the community that you want to not just represent, but encourage and help grow. 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  Yes, that’s absolutely correct. And it really is a flip of a lens. So if you’re an executive that wanted to become an influencer and a thought leader, I would say, “Hey, do you want to become a thought leader?” You’d say, “Sure.” But then as I drilled into it, it’s gonna be something that it’s hard for you to articulate what that really means. 

So I would flip the lens to, like I said before, just say, “Well, why do folks ask you questions? Why do they come to you? Do they view you as something valuable? What are the things that they want to talk to you about?” And that’s going to be the community lens. You’re going to start to look at things, like we always say as good marketers, look at it through the lens of your buyer, right. 

But that’s why I like even the exercise of saying, “Let’s not say thought leaders, let’s say valued community to your buyers.” Okay, well, who are your buyers and what do they value? What is  unique about your perspective that you can help them and provide value to them? 

So changing the lens I think, helps a lot because we all have these preconceived notions of what does it mean to be a thought leader? Which is why I always say well, the person trying to be the thought leader is the person who’s trying to prove they’re the smartest person in the room. And of course, we all know how we feel about that person. 

And once I lay that out, they’re like, oh, okay, so what should I do instead?

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: So let’s talk a little bit more about the community in the context of: there’s a lot of excitement about user-generated content. And that generally, we think of in terms of reaching consumers. TikTok, for example, is a hub for this. Instagram is also a place where we see a lot of this, and you did mention that as a platform that is related here. Well, how does user-generated content relate to B2B marketing? Does it apply to influencers?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  So, there’s kind of two aspects of this? So, if I reframe user-generated content a little bit to be where our customers talking about the issues that a particular brand is trying to solve. So, one aspect of user-generated content, no surprise, will be customer reviews. 

So obviously, platforms like G2 are really important to sort of understand how folks are talking about and doing what you can to facilitate obviously positive reviews of whatever your solution is. If I stay in the world of social, well, you know, it’s really where the buyers are having the discussions. 

And this could be you know, this could be something like Reddit is starting to appear a lot in searches. It can also be Slack channels, that you know, that are out there. And the key is, as always —and it’s funny, I’m starting to prompt conversations with clients around TikTok — is, you want to be where your buyers are, and you want to be where your community of buyers are having the conversations around the issues that your product or brand is trying to solve. 

That’s the sort of first basis of content or of the question of where’s the content, the user-generated content happening. But then I would break it down into yes, the review side of things and then understanding these conversations. 

And one of the areas I think that  companies don’t lean enough into —we used to talk about this all the time, like 6, 7, 8, even 10 years ago — was social listening, was to be able to go, “Let’s listen using whatever platform or tool out there you want, but let’s understand the conversations that are happening.” Let’s boil it down into five, seven, 10 key questions you’ll hear folks talking about around sort of the thematics that drive a brand’s product roadmap. And then let’s create content or invite them to create content, answering those questions. 

And this is where social listening comes in. And then from that, you’re also going to understand, well, where the conversation’s happening and where’s the content happening. Well in the old days, that used to be a lot of Twitter and folks literally would screenshot tweets that are talking about these things and embed them in the company blog posts, right? 

But these conversations are happening out there everywhere and the content is being created. The user-generated content is being created everywhere, but it’s being able to understand where they are. 

I also believe one of the big platforms that is totally underutilized as we move everything into LinkedIn is YouTube. All the data shows that YouTube is a very, very influential platform for B2B buyers, yet I see B2B brands, by and large, underutilizing or what I call,  “Gotta go in and dust off YouTube” and be rethinking about YouTube and everything that’s happening there, both from an influencer marketing standpoint, and also, absolutely, from a user-generated content because there’s so many B2B product reviews happening, how-tos tips and tricks that are all on YouTube now. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Even using something as quick and as straightforward as YouTube shorts, to be able to get a key piece of information or  idea out to your community is something that more brands could use. 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  That’s such a great thing to highlight, Peter. Thank you for doing that. We work with early stage companies all the way through public companies, as I know that Merritt Group does too, but in particular, early stage companies that they really don’t have much of a YouTube footprint at all. 

The beauty of YouTube shorts is, it’s all algorithmic, meaning you’ve got as good a chance to get your videos in front of folks as the enterprise that you are trying to disrupt because it’s all about the algorithm. And that’s very, very particular to YouTube Shorts. So you’re absolutely right. Coming in and saying, “Let’s lean into YouTube Shorts” is a great way to get in front of the community, especially if you’re competing against larger enterprises that are much more established. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Okay, so I’m going to stretch this segue as thin as I possibly can. Speaking of algorithms, I have to ask you about the impact of AI and influencer marketing. Is there a connection?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail: Well, what I would say is and obviously we’re all having, as marketers in our thinking about AI, I really view it as an opportunity to, to really differentiate ourselves. 

Let me say it another way. I think AI, whether it’s on the influencer side or just broadly the content marketing side, social media side, I think it’s all going to increasingly make content more generic,  because it’s easier to kick out these quick summarizations of things, et cetera.  

That means if you’re using, working with an influencer, or you have an executive, who in particular are highly opinionated, that’s gonna break through the noise. Absolutely going to break through the noise. 

So I think, in a world that will become even noisier because of how easy it is to use AI to create content, leaning into having more opinions and being more authentic in your voice and who you are as a professional brand, meaning an executive or an influencer is really strong number one. 

Number two, I also believe formats like these podcast discussions, LinkedIn live, where you have true interaction between two or more folks on a topic — that’s not something that AI is going to be able to replicate anytime soon. So this is actually an opportunity and it’s ironic, Peter, because we’ve been talking about what, the “content tidal wave, content storm,” whatever, for what 15 years now? Okay, well, guess what? It’s gonna get even worse on the one hand. 

On the other hand, for those of us that truly have opinions, and truly want to have engaging dialogue around things that are impacting the industry, our content is going to be differentiated and stand out even more.

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: So, let’s talk about what CMOs should be thinking in this regard right now. Where does influencer marketing fit into their mix along with the traditional, earned media, paid media content marketing, digital marketing, everything that they’ve got going on?

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  I would say influencer marketing is becoming more and more important over time. To say it another way, aligning with the voices and authorities that your buyers trust is even more important. Every day I get up, you get up, you know, how many spam messages do we have in our LinkedIn now? How many ads are we seeing, how many how many phone calls are we dodging? Automated phone calls? All of that, it’s gotten even worse and worse and worse. 

But when we’re making a buying decision, what do we do? We go, “Huh, who do I know in my network really understands this?” So having the ear and trust of those that have the ear and the trust of the buyers is super important. 

Now, what I will tell you is this is going to push more companies into working with influencers and the problem is they don’t know how to work with influencers. 

Okay, my number one tip I always give a company when they’re first going to do influencer marketing is, I say,  “Don’t do the first campaign as a paid campaign. Meaning, don’t pay the influencer for the first thing. They always say to me, “Why is that?” I say, “Because if day one, you establish the relationship as a transaction, you will always be a transaction to them.” 

So here’s a great thing to do instead: shout out to influencers and get them to give you a quote or an executive byline. Get them to do something like that, which is get them to guest on your podcast, something where they can use your platform to build up their platform. I don’t pay him anything. But then over time, you can build a relationship such that when you really want them to create custom work for you of course you should pay them. But don’t start off the relationship as a transaction, number one. 

Number two, the biggest mistake I see is that once the influencer is done with whatever you’ve asked them, it’s as if you don’t care about them anymore. And they’re like, hey, I did this great — and I’ve heard this numerous times from influencers. I did this great, you know, user conference or webinar series or whatever. I’ve never heard from the company again. 

And not only does that make the influencer feel like they didn’t do a good job and aren’t valued, you’re wasting the opportunity to turn that influencer into a long-term advocate by simply treating them as an ongoing VIP.   

So, influencer marketing is going to become much more important simply because we are trusting less as buyers. So that’s number one. And number two, though, is that the brands really have to understand right way to manage and work with these influencers. Because the goal is not just to pay them to do a series of blog posts or or be a host on a podcast, whatever it is. The goal is to turn them into a brand advocate over time. 

And at the end of the day, we’re talking about real people here not AI bots, right? So treat them like VIPs. Whatever you do for a VIP — you got company swag, you send it out to VIPs? Send it to them, too. You got a special email that only goes out to VIPs? Include them on that. You’re going to be in town? Ring them up and buy their dinner. 

So it’s really, really important, both from the standpoint of building more credibility with your buyer through influencers in this noisy world we trust less, but also managing the influencer relationship.  

Because the other thing I’ll tell you: all the influencers know each other. Why? They’re all on the same panels, they’re all at the same industry conferences, you know, et cetera. So if you don’t manage the relationship well, the word gets around on that, too.

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: It’s funny to see that, as we get more advanced with automation tools and AI and all of the technical capability at our command, that it’s still a person-to-person business. 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  You said it best: these are tools. I mean, it’s the old you know, I can buy the paint brushes and all of that, but I still has to be able to paint the thing. But at the end of the day, there’s a human there with a virtual pen that is going to make a signature on an agreement. 

I can’t tell you how many executives I still talk to and I ask, “Hey, you did a whole RFP around this thing.” “Oh, yeah, we must have talked to 13 vendors, I can’t even remember who was who anymore, but I really liked that salesperson.” 

At the end of the day, whether it’s AI or good old-fashioned marketing automation, if it’s not resulting in a conversation and a relationship, then chances are you’re going to lose the business to someone else. 

And that’s why with these influencers because their impact obviously is magnified, if you can build really strong, collaborative relationships with these influencers such that you turn them into brand advocates, that’s really what you want to achieve with influencer marketing. Don’t think campaign, think brand advocate. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: Well, Carter, do you have a final takeaway for the B2B marketing and PR community about influencer marketing? 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail:  I really think number one, and I touched on these, is make sure that you’ve got the right influencer, for the right goal, for this specific campaign or program you want to do is really, really critical. And then think about how to leverage that campaign the best based on that influencer’s platform. 

And as we just talked about, you build a handful of really good relationships with the industry influencers, and you treat them like ongoing VIPs with the goal of turning them into brand advocates, you are truly, truly going to succeed with the impact of influencer marketing. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand: I’ve been talking with Carter Hostelley of LeadTail. Thank you so much for being here. Carter. I really enjoyed this conversation. 

Carter Hostelley, LeadTail: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. 

Peter Jacobs, Lay of the Brand:  

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dotcomm site bug gold award
bulldog pr awards
27-th annual
dotcomm site bug gold award
bulldog pr awards
27-th annual