B2B marketing is a rich, diverse, and sometimes complex field. The growth of technology and social media add a new layer to this field. Sometimes it even feels like a struggle to keep up.
That’s where influencers can make a huge difference. Influencers help us to stay on top of the trends and new developments that hit the industry. They guide us in breaking through the noise and undertanding what's happening within our industry.
Before we delve into who the top influencers in marketing are, we should answer the vital question...
Who exactly are influencers?
Influencers are authoritative experts in their industry, with a large following on social media. They have a lot of power, and can even use that power to influence the purchase decisions of their followers. B2B influencer marketing is a way for you to harness that power to positively impact your brand.
Let’s take a moment and look at what specific qualities contribute to the making of a top influencer.
Top Influencers Are...
I would hazard to say that this is one of the most valuable qualities that an influencer could possess. Influencers' integrity, honesty, and transparency are the foundation pillars of a relationship with their audience. They aren’t just in it for the profit -- their goal is to truly benefit their audience.
Anyone can post a regular stream of content about marketing on social media. What sets influencers apart is the way they pull their audience into a conversation. They cultivate meaningful relationships with their audience through the top-notch content they share and the interaction they offer with that content.
Some mistakenly believe that influence is directly linked to the size following a person has. A person can have a million followers, but if their audience isn’t engaged, their influence is hampered. Instead of going by the numbers, look at how many likes, comments, and shares their content receives.
Good marketing influencers are not simply 9 to 5 executives. Their interest goes beyond a simple career, and could better be described as a passion. Their fire and zeal for marketing is apparent in the way they communicate on social networks, and is often mirrored in their audience.
Good marketing influencers are not simply 9 to 5 executives CLICK TO TWEET
Influencers have earned a reputation for expertise within their industry. They have knowledge and a keen understanding of the ins and outs of the industry that sets them apart from others. Their audience often relies on this expertise to steer them through complicated industry problems.
Handpicked Related Content
Influencers aren’t afraid to change with the times, learn new methods, or even adapt their views. As new technology becomes available, they approach it with an open mind, ready to give an honest opinion about its effectiveness.
This quality leads them to search out and even create new ways to do things. They try new approaches to industry issues, and then offer their findings to their audience. They are never afraid to test boundaries and challenge the status quo.
Top influencers don't just have the ear of their audience, but the power to affect change within the industry. Their audience respects and values their advice so much that they are often moved to action based on it.
Expertise and passion can go only so far -- in order to be a truly great influencer, a person must have the desire to help people. It’s that generously helpful quality that motivates true influencers to provide content and advice to their audience. This quality truly completes the package and draws individuals to an influencer.
In order to be a truly great influencer, a person must have the desire to help people CLICK TO TWEET
Handpicked Related Content
Now for the main attraction -- who are the B2B marketers that you should know in 2017? Keep in mind that this list is not meant to be exclusive, or even show the absolute best influencers. This is simply an list (in alphabetical order) of people that we admire and enjoy following in the field of marketing -- we hope you do too!
10 Genius-Level B2B Marketing Influencers to Keep Your Eye On
Twitter Handle: @GrowUrStartup
Twitter Following: 128K
Jonathan Aufray got involved with growth hacking and other marketing strategies from the beginning. In fact, he is even the co-founder and CEO of Growth Hackers, which specializes in growth hacking and other strategies to help startups and SMBs succeed in the modern age.
Aufray has hands-on experience establishing and growing various startups of his own, most in Taiwan, his home-base. This gives him the valuable ability to give personal advice on the ins and outs of startup strategy as someone who has been there.
His passionate entrepreneurial spirit, combined with his position on the cutting edge of what's new in marketing, makes Jonathan Aufray an absolute joy to follow.
Twitter Handle: @BrennerMichael
Twitter Following: 91.6K
Michael Brenner is the CEO of Marketing Insider Group and has co-authored the influential book, The Content Formula. In addition, he generously shares his knowledge with his audience through thousands of helpful articles and blog posts on the ins and outs of marketing.
His influence has grown out of a passion for the fast-growing, customer-centric approach to marketing that has helped many businesses to succeed in recent years. He has created a unique formula for marketing, on which his book is based, and which he shares in his workshops and keynote addresses.
Michael Brenner’s innovative approach to marketing as well as his eagerness to share his successful methods with his audience marks him as a marketing guru to follow.
Twitter Handle: @GrowMap
Twitter Following: 114K
Gail Gardner regularly uses her marketing expertise as the president of GrowMap, a company that specializes in helping small businesses grow to their full potential with specialized marketing strategies. Her GrowMap website has also become a bustling content outlet, and includes blogs created to help solve the problems that small businesses face on a daily basis.
Gardner is often lauded as a helpful person -- from the blogs that she creates to the advice that she delivers, you can tell that she truly desires to help others with her knowledge and expertise.
From her social media audience to the people who contact her in need of help, Gardner proves to be a true influencer in the realm of B2B marketing.
Twitter Handle: @GlenGilmore
Twitter Following: 321K
Not only has Glen Gilmore attracted the attention of top-tier magazines, but his expertise in the fields of content marketing, augmented reality, and IoT set him apart as someone you should watch.
Gilmore regularly creates content and provides advice on industry trends, strategies, and best practices. Both his clients and his social media audience regularly benefit from his rich base of knowledge and experience. His passion also lends nicely to his public speaking engagements, where he delivers engaging and educational addresses to excited audiences.
Even with his impressive social media following, Glen Gilmore still maintains a meaningful connection with his followers through his content and engagement.
Twitter Handle: @sam__hurley
Twitter Following: 160K
Sam Hurley is fluent in digital marketing -- from his strategies for SEO and social media marketing to his in-depth understanding of startups and their branding needs. Through his social networks, Hurley constantly delivers a content-diet rich in top trends, innovative solutions, and unique insights.
One of the most impressive facts about Hurley is the speed with which he rose to the top of the industry. With little except his expertise -- not even a website -- he climbed the ranks from nobody to #1 marketing influencer within 15 months!
Not only is Sam Hurley an expert in his field, but, as everyone who has worked with him will attest, he is also a genuinely nice guy. He has earned a reputation as being super approachable and easy to work with.
If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in digital marketing, Hurley delivers the goods and then some.
Handpicked Related Content
Twitter Handle: @NedFL
Twitter Following: 20.2K
Ned James is a marketing pro with years of experience in every corner of the marketing industry. From social media and SEO to the finer points of product launches, email marketing, and analytics. In fact, you name it, and he’s probably done it.
But far from hoarding his marketing expertise, James generously shares his insights and valuable guidance with his audience. He regularly engages his audience through a steady flow of valuable content.
His zeal and energy for marketing give Ned James the position as a powerful figure in the industry -- one who you will want on your side.
Handpicked Related Content
Twitter Handle: @evankirstel
Twitter Following: 147K
Evan Kirstel is an influencer with a passion for using social media as a tool to reach marketing goals. He brings a unique knowledge and expertise to the table, which he has gained through his more than 25 years of experience in the industry.
Kirstel constantly delivers insightful and refreshingly innovative content to his growing audience. His background in technology gives him a unique perspective that he shares in generous portions with his audience.
Evan Kirstel has not only the knowledge and expertise, but the passion and inquisitive nature that make him a must-follow influencer.
Handpicked Related Content
Twitter Handle: @tabithanaylor
Twitter Following: 62.7K
Tabitha Naylor’s enthusiasm and passion for marketing is downright contagious -- as you can see from her self-given title, Digital Marketing Ninja and Copywriter Extraordinaire. And this is not all talk! Her many years of experience in all areas of digital marketing -- helping companies of all shapes and sizes -- puts her in a unique position as an industry expert.
Naylor is known to strike new paths in her goal to provide comprehensive marketing solutions. One such example is Successful Startup 101, a helpful, digital magazine that she founded to address the questions and issues facing new businesses in the modern world.
Naylor’s strong work ethic, combined with the passion she brings to her work, make her a top influencer you’ll want to keep tabs on.
Twitter Handle: @Robert_Rose
Twitter Following: 47.1K
Robert Rose has been part of the content marketing scene from the beginning. He has spent years honing his skills as a master marketer, content strategist and storyteller, and frequently shares his expertise with others.
Rose is currently the Chief Strategist for Content Marketing Institute (a superb resource that stays on top of everything related to content marketing), and has helped hundreds of B2B startups and other businesses to better reach and engage their audience.
Rose and the awesome Joe Pulizzi are authors of the new, terrific book Killing Marketing.
Rose’s passion for content marketing is clearly seen through the insightful content he produces, as well as the way he engages audiences during his speaking engagements.
All of his talents and expertise make Robert Rose a key player and one of the top influencers in the field of marketing.
Twitter Handle: @VanellaGroup
Twitter Following: 35.2K
MariAnne Vanella has a long list of accomplishments that make her an influential figure on the B2B scene. For starters, she is the proud founder and CEO of The Vanella Group, a firm that specializes in teleprospect-based engagement and lead generation for enterprise technology companies.
Not only does she run her own company, but Vanella is also the author of the best-selling book, 42 Rules of Cold-Calling Executives. Her success also encompasses a number of awards and her prowess as a speaker at a number of high-profile marketing events.
Her superior knowledge and expertise, as well as her willingness to share that expertise with her audience, make MariAnne Vanella the genuine article of influencer.
A Few Points to Remember…
- Choose an influencer who is trustworthy and engaging.
- Look for an influencer who has the ability to impact the decisions of their audience
- A large audience isn’t necessarily the key to success -- it’s how influencers interact with their audience that shows their value
- Top influencers challenge the status quo and aren’t afraid to try new methods or technology within their industry
While this is by no means an exhaustive or exclusive list of B2B marketing influencers, we hope it will satisfy your appetite for marketing news and trends.
You May Also Enjoy Reading…