- The Reeder
- How I structure B2B influencer deals
How I structure B2B influencer deals
Lessons from playing both sides of the game
Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Reeder, where you get expert content strategy advice every Saturday morning for growing your career and business.
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This year I’ve invested 6-figures into influencer marketing at Clari, making it the largest budget line item I have by far.
During that same time, I’ve also made over $50,000 as an influencer.
(It still feels weird to call myself the i-word, do forgive me...)
Playing both sides of the table, I’ve learned a lot about:
- what really drives results
- major mistakes to avoid
- how to assess and structure deals
- how to get CMO approval for big spends
It’s a fast-moving trend with lots of upside — if your strategy and execution is air tight.
Problem is that very few B2B marketers know how to design, execute, and measure an influencer strategy — let alone get funding from execs to support one.
Meanwhile many professionals want to monetize their personal brand and become an influencer, but they don’t recognize their real value, so they don’t know how to convey their value, which results in a whole lotta dollar signs left on the table.
I play both sides of the game, so naturally I wanna help both sides.
That’s why in today’s episode I’m going to break down:
✅ My #1 goal when picking influencers
✅ The 3 "value buckets” I use to assess investments as a marketing leader
✅ My personal 6-point checklist for picking brands I work with
Ready? Let’s ride 🌊
This is the ONLY only thing that matters
I see this common mistake every day that ends with “y”:
B2B companies pick influencers exclusively based on follower count.
I know, I know. We’ve been conditioned to believe that more followers equals popularity, and popularity — when converted into attention — can be monetized.
(Why am I thinking of / blaming Kim Kardashian in my head right now?...)
But here’s the truth:
Being popular and being influential are NOT the same thing. Especially on LinkedIn.
I won’t get into click farms, engagement pods, or the fact that most “influencers” that regularly get 500+ reactions on their post can’t get 15 people to show up to an actual event, let alone buy anything…
What I WILL say is when I’m spending my limited marketing dollars as Head of Content, there’s only ONE thing I really care about:
Building trust at scale.
It’s literally the mission statement of my team. All decisions, strategies, and tactics cascade from that single philosophy.
So when picking an influencer who is going to represent my brand (ie, Clari), I’m looking for voices who are respected, credible, and most importantly, can create a new conversation or sway an existing one with people I want to sell to.
In other words, someone who has real influence. Someone who can motivate action through — you guessed it — trust.
This is my #1 goal when picking influencers. It's the ONLY thing that matters.
Maybe they have 5,000 followers. Maybe 90,000.
That effects the price tag, but doesn’t qualify them in or out of my strategy.
Right now you might be thinking that this almost-too-choosy selection technique eliminates most potential influencers from the list.
And you’d be absolutely right.
I protect my brand at all costs and am intentional as I evolve and grow it.
You should be too.
Alright, that’s strategy. Let’s talk wheelin’ ‘n dealin’.
How to evaluate an influencer deal
Here’s what B2B marketers care about.
(Or at least what they should care about.)
Below are the three “value buckets” I use to evaluate influencer investments as a marketing leader (and as such, frame investments through this lens to my CMO):
1. Grow audience reach
I call this “tapping into their audience” to extend my reach.
My goal is twofold. I want to:
1️⃣ Amplify my strategic messaging
2️⃣ Increase offer distribution (content, guides, events, etc)
I’m playing in the attention economy and I have every intention of winning.
2. Accelerate content production
Like most content marketing teams, I could use (a lot) more headcount. And I’m not immune to marketing being viewed as a “volume game” and the expectations that follow.
All’s to say, there’s pressure to publish more.
To increase our production, I’ll see if the deal can include co-created, high value content with the influencer, like joint guides, events, etc.
3. Source pipeline
Truth is, I need to put numbers on a dashboard to prove to senior leadership that the engagement had tangible impact.
Until B2B marketing attribution is solved (or we become less obsessed with it…) it’s a game I simply gotta play. And I play it well so I really don’t mind.
This is where UTMs on social, gated content, and webinars get their shine on.
Use this framework, or create your own version of it, so you have a concrete way to structure deals, balance deliverables, and negotiate pricing.
OK, one last thing today…
Excuse me while I step to the other side of the table…
Let’s talk about Devin the influencer.
I’ve made two healthy revenue stream this year from influencer marketing:
→ Newsletter ads
→ Sponsored LinkedIn posts
But here’s the thing:
I say no to about 80% of deals I’m offered. And it’s not because I’m hot stuff like Matthew McMonaughey in the early 2000s.
It’s because I don’t want to dilute my brand equity.
I’m not trying to represent as many brands as possible to make as much short term revenue as possible.
I want long-term partners who see the value in having me become an extension of their brand and mission.
Let me be clear:
In 2024, B2B influencer marketing is going to evolve from LinkedIn posts into bigger brand deals, also known as NIL deals (name, image, likeness) in college sports.
That’s no baseless prediction either. It’s a DReed promise.
B2B companies are going to realize that to accelerate pipeline creation they need to accelerate trust within their market.
Insert influencers who can hit all three of the “value buckets” above, and maybe even more (like strategic advising, referral sales, etc).
It will be rare, like Jordan’s Nike deal. But once the first couple dominos fall, it’ll be a mad dash for companies to scoop up the top-shelf influencers with non-compete contracts.
And in my effort to land those deals myself, here’s my personal 6-point checklist for picking brands I work with next year:
I’m sharing this freely to help you if you want to monetize your personal brand for the first time, or want help as you scale.
TL;DR (Too Long; Devin Reed)
Aight, let’s wrap.
Building trust at scale is all that matters
B2B marketers: Evaluate influencer deals by audience reach, content production, and pipeline impact
Influencers: be intentional and choosy if you want to create lasting value and relationships
Holler at you next Saturday,
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