Ogilvy PR’s new global business influencer offer is led from the UK by Rahul Titus, global head of influence, and business influence director James Baldwin.
They have built a team of business influencer specialists, primarily in the UK, offering services including strategy, identification, content creation and “full integration across multichannel marketing activities”, the agency said.
Ogilvy PR defines business influencers as “credible business professionals with established audiences and genuine industry experience”. “They provide contextual, informative and independent insight that impacts professional buying decisions in ways brands can’t.”
The agency is already using the new offer with clients including IBM, Samsung Business and Vodafone Business. The plan is to now build the business influencer team on a global basis.
The agency pointed to data from Forbes showing the growing importance of business influencers. For example, 90 per cent of sales-driven b2b audiences no longer trust sales messages, but 92 per cent of b2b buyers would engage if the professional is a known industry thought leader, the data shows.
In addition, 74 per cent of b2b marketers agree that influencer marketing improves relationships with brands, yet only 19 per cent run ongoing influencer programmes.
Recent research by Research and Markets estimates that global b2b influencer marketing has the potential to generate $11.7bn by the end of 2022.
Titus, who was promoted to global head of influence earlier this year, told PRWeek the “time felt absolutely right” to launch a specialist b2b influencer product.
“One of the things that we started seeing at some point last year was that a lot more b2b clients [are] looking at influencer marketing as a very credible way of reaching their audiences,” he said.
Titus said the offer had been run on a test basis in the UK and a few other markets in recent months, “and what we’ve seen is that it works wonderfully”. Strategies tend to be more targeted and budgets tend to be bigger, he said.
Examples of the work so far include a b2b influencer partnership with Samsung Business to launch its new Galaxy Z Fold smartphone, which included roundtables and a LinkedIn thought leadership series.
The team’s work with IBM included podcasts discussing how cloud computing is aiding businesses. Its Nokia activity featured a fly-on-the-wall documentary series with industry influencers looking at how they solve problems for the client.
“What we’re really seeing, very quickly, is these b2b audiences are much, much more likely to react to marketing comms when it’s not the brand talking directly, but it’s using credible spokespeople in that space.”
Titus declined to revealed the size of Ogilvy PR’s business influencer team, but said it was “sizeable”, adding: “It’s a big investment for us over the next 12 months to see the team grow across all markets.”
Business influencer is "the next frontier in influencer marketing,” he said.
“I think the brands that will get it right are the brands that will… enter the space as early adaptors. It is why we’re seeing so many brands really jump onto this bandwagon, because it’s working.”