Bredin Report: What role should influencers play in your SMB marketing?

Influencer marketing has become increasingly popular among companies that market to small and midsized businesses (SMBs), with companies from Dell to American Express using influencers to reach this segment. But for many, influencers are still an uncertain marketing tactic that leave several key questions unresolved. How effective is it with SMBs? Do influencers drive awareness or actual purchase? What types of experts do SMBs trust? Who has the reach you need?

To bring you some clarity on the role of influencers in B2SMB campaigns, we surveyed 307 U.S. SMBs.

Awareness of influencers

In total, 75% of SMBs say they don’t recall influencers from any ads, videos, or other content. Among millennials, however, the numbers are quite different: 69% of them do recall seeing influencers in this kind of content.

Of those who recall such content:

  • 74% say that content featuring an influencer is more impactful or effective than other types of promotion. Among millennials, 91% find influencer content more impactful and effective.
  • 43% overall — and 61% of millennials — have made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation.

How compelling is influencer content?

When asked what type of content they find most credible, SMBs rate their peers highest. 59% prefer content by a fellow business owner, followed by content from an expert or author (50%) or a general small business blogger (24%).

On the other hand, celebrity influencers are not very credible in the SMB space. Only 13% of SMBs find content from celebrities outside the business world more credible than average, and 19% say the same of content from celebrity businesspeople.

What attributes do SMBs want in an influencer?

Asked what makes someone credible or trustworthy as a promoter of business products or services, 59% of SMBs said they want someone who runs a successful business (i.e., a peer), 40% want a professional degree or certification, and 22% want someone who has a TV show or radio show or has written a book.

Respondents from bigger companies are more likely to value the media footprint of the influencer: 37% of SMBs with 100–500 employees cite TV or radio shows as evidence of expertise, and 35% cite book credits. Among those with fewer than 20 employees, however, only one in five see such credits as advantageous, leaning much more heavily on the expert’s business experience and professional degrees.

The winner is Gary Vaynerchuk…sort of

When we asked SMBs to rank the impact of a recommendation from 29 influencers, Gary Vaynerchuk was the winner. He had the largest positive impact among his audience, with 57% saying his recommendation would make them more likely to buy. Though Vaynerchuk had the greatest impact, he wasn’t the most recognized. That honor went to Mark Cuban whom 71% of SMBs were aware of. We’ll break down the full 29 in the Fastcast.

Want to learn more?

On February 8, we’ll present much more detail on the topics above, as well as:

  • How SMBs rank types of experts, both in the media and in their professional communities
  • What role an influencer’s social media and publishing profile play
  • How recognizable and influential 29 specific B2B influencers are among SMBs

About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.