B2B Marketing Spotlight: Neen James on How to Make Attention Pay #mpb2b

Neen James Interview

Neen James is the author of Folding Time™ and her most recent book, Attention Pays™. She is frequently named one of the top 30 Leadership Speakers by Global Guru because of her work with companies like Viacom, Comcast, Cisco, Virgin, Pfizer, BMW, and the FBI, among others.

Neen is a leadership expert who delivers high-energy keynotes that challenge audiences to leverage their focus and pay attention to what matters most at work and in life.

She’s also originally from Australia but now lives in Florida. Neen and I are both members of a secret or not so secret society of speakers and although we have never met until today, the energy she shares through her digital communications makes me feel like we’ve known each other for years.

On Wednesday October 16th, Neen will be giving an opening keynote, Attention Pays™: How to Drive Profitability, Productivity, and Accountability at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Washington D.C..  Neen was generous to spend some time with me to talk about the importance of attention in business, for marketing and marketing leaders.

Enjoy the full video interview below:

Neen James on the Value of Personal Branding in B2B Marketing:

I think it’s vital because when you think about this whole idea, if you really want to get attention, you have to give attention. And as marketers we have to give attention to the brand that people are buying from. We are the product.

I grew up in corporate business, Lee. I worked in retail banking, telecommunications, and the oil industry. And what I realized, Lee, is I had to be able to stand out.

The people that we are working with want to know that they can trust us. They want to know that we’re going to get them the results that they need.  @neenjames

Just like you would do a SWOT analysis on a potential product for a client in a strategic plan, we’re going to do the same thing with ourselves because the people that we are working with, Lee, they want to know that they can trust us. They want to know that we’re going to get them the results that they need.

So a personal brand in B2B is vital and it’s also about making sure that the brand has longevity and consistency.

Neen James on Systems of Attention: 

Systems create freedom, right? We all have systems in place, whether we are marketers within organizations or an entrepreneur that is running your own marketing for your company. I believe that we need systems of attention.

There are systems of attention to be able to get and give the kind of attention that you want, whether it is in the work place or outside. We all know that with the projects that we’re all juggling, the clientele that we’re all managing, and the team that we’re leading, that we need some systems in place.

Neen James on the Cost of Distractions from Multitasking:

The costs are insane. Whether they’re personal or professional. There was some research done by the Information Overload Group, which is a hilarious name for a company, that found in the US $588 billion dollars is lost every year because there’s loss of productivity through distraction and multitasking.

In the US $588 billion dollars is lost every year because there’s loss of productivity through distraction and multitasking. @neenjames

From a professional point of view, there’s obviously results like reduced productivity and reduced internal customer satisfaction. Are distracted employees really delivering on the results you said you would provide to the clientele that you serve inside or outside your organization?

There are many costs including team engagement, productivity, customer satisfaction. There are professional costs, but personally the most disturbing thing I found when I was researching my book, Attention Pays, was that on average nine people die every day because of distracted driving.

I mean, we’ve made it more important to update our Facebook status than to actually pay attention to the road.

Neen James on Prioritizing your Priorities:

A strategic appointment with yourself is just 15 minutes. Here’s what’s so fascinating. People tell me all the time, “Oh, there’s never enough time.” Or, “I’ve run out of time, we’re going to kill time.” Well, poor time. Time never did anything to you.

You can’t manage time because you and I get the same 1440 minutes in a day. Time doesn’t care. It’s going to happen anyway. You can’t manage time, but you can manage your attention. @neenjames

See, I don’t believe in time management, right? You can’t manage time because you and I get the same 1440 minutes in a day. Time doesn’t care. It’s going to happen anyway. You can’t manage time, but you can manage your attention.

By simply investing in a strategic appointment with yourself for 15 minutes every day you’re going to identify what strategic nonnegotiable goals will get you closer to the bigger picture, to the things you’re responsible for.

Thanks Neen! 

BONUS: You can download a FREE copy of Neen’s book, Folding Time, here (pdf)

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B including Neen James’ keynote, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the B2B Form website here. Also, get $100 off by using this mpb2b discount code: B2BFriends

You can find more information about Neen on her website and follow her on Twitter here: @neenjames

Be sure to watch the other videos in the MPB2B series featuring:

Ann Handley – Are You a B2B Marketing Badaxe?

Jay Baer –  Are You Down with EGC?

Tyrona Heath – Can ABM & Social Selling Unite?

B2B Marketing Spotlight: Ty Heath on Optimizing ABM & Social Sales with LinkedIn #mpb2b

Ty Heath Interview B2B Marketing

Ty Heath is one of those people who’s reputation precedes them. I had heard of Ty as a marketing industry speaker and force for change working at LinkedIn before finally meeting her in person. The IRL Ty experience did not disappoint. Each time I meet with Ty, ideas pop like popcorn – who needs coffee with such inspiration around what’s possible?

Currently Ty is Global Lead of The B2B Institute at LinkedIn where she is responsible for scaling education on LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions product globally. She has previously worked for major brands including IBM, Nestle and over 7 years at Google – plus she’s had her own consultancy.

On top of that, Ty is Co-Founder of LinkedIn’s annual TransformHER conference, was a contributing author in the recently published books “The Professional Black Woman” and the “Black Female Leader” and author of the book, “Marketers of Tomorrow: A Step by Step Toolkit for Inbound Marketing“. Ty was also honored as one of the Top 25 Influential Women in Marketing Who Inspired Us in 2018.

One thing you may not know about Ty is that she is a two time Olympic Trials qualifier in track and field for the 800 meters.

I’ve known Ty for just over a year – we serve on an industry advisory council for The Digital Marketing Institute together and have many mutual friends and shared interests like B2B marketing, science fiction and brunch. That’s why I was very happy to interview Ty as a speaker at the upcoming MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference on all things ABM and Social Selling.

If you want to optimize your ABM and social sales efforts, be sure to see Ty in Washington D.C. during the Oct 16-18 B2B Forum. In the meantime, this video is a must-watch:

Ty Heath on the Growth of ABM

Many folks have been thinking about making account based marketing part of their go-to-market strategy or maybe it’s already a part of it. I think the primary reason why that’s happening is because buyers expect more. We’ve all gotten used to the experience that Amazon and Netflix, and other companies have created.

Business buyers expect more personalized attention and customization of content…and account-based marketing is a way to deliver on that. @tyrona

Even though we are in the space of B2B, that experience and those expectations are translating over from B2C. That expectation of personalization and level of knowledge around the buyer’s needs. So, I think ABM is in demand more because of changing business customer expectations and account-based marketing is a way to deliver on that.

Ty Heath on Alignment Beyond Sales and Marketing:

At the core of a powerful account based marketing plan is a team that is invested in sales and marketing alignment. And frankly, when you think about account-based marketing it’s not even just about sales and marketing. It’s about having your entire team oriented to connect with customers wherever they are in their journey, wherever they touch your business and have them make that the best possible experience. Sales and marketing tend to be the two groups within your business that are most oriented towards having those conversations and having those touch points.

Ty Heath on Ann Handley:

I’ve been following her for so long. That’s the thing. I’m one of the subscribers to MarketingProfs, but even before that, even earlier in my career as a marketer I read Content Rules. I read Everybody Writes. I’ve been following her for a long time. I think she is truly a pioneer as a woman in the space of B2B marketing. I think she’s an amazing storyteller. Her ideas are clear. She’s been an inspiration for me!

Thanks Ty! 

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B marketing including Ty Heath’s presentation, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the B2B Form website here. Also, get $100 off by using this mpb2b discount code: B2BFriends

You can find more information about Ty on her website The Spectacled Marketer and follow her on Twitter here: @tyrona

B2B Marketing Spotlight: Jay Baer on Employee Generated Content #mpb2b

Jay Baer Interview

It was back in 2010 at SXSWi that I was in the blogger lounge networking with other social media savvy content creators and thought leaders like Brian Solis, Chris Heuer, Amber Naslund, Chris Brogan and Rohit Bhargava, when I met a fellow marketer who shared a metal bottle opener as his business card.

What a brilliant idea! Package your identity around something useful to trigger conversations.

Fast forward to 2019 and Jay Baer has continued to carry that message of utility, talk triggers and clever marketing savvy to his online media empire of Convince & Convert that includes an award winning blog, a network of podcasts, professional speaking, training and consulting.

Jay is the New York Times best-selling author of six books including his most recent, Talk Triggers. He is also a serial entrepreneur, technology company investor and a world class professional keynote speaker that has been inducted into the Professional Speaking Hall of Fame. On top of all that, Jay is an avid tequila collector, a certified barbecue judge and owner of some of the most colorful and stylish suits you’ll see on the speaking circuit.

On Wednesday October 16th, Jay will be giving an opening keynote on how to turn your customers into volunteer marketers at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Washington D.C.. Jay was kind enough to connect with me to talk about the topic of employee advocacy and world of mouth marketing.

Enjoy the full video interview below:

Jay Baer on B2B Marketing Alphabet Soup and How to Get Focused

“I feel like you should go back to the utility principle which is, let’s set aside all the shenanigans and just say, ‘Okay look, what do these prospective customers need and how can we give that to them?’ If we do that consistently, eventually we’re gonna win. Ultimately, that’s the only great truism of marketing. Give people what they need and eventually you will win. But there’s not enough patience.”

Ultimately, the only great truism of marketing is, give people what they need and eventually you will win. @jaybaer

“People aren’t like, “Hey, LinkedIn post, here’s $1 million for a software package.” There is actually a consideration period here. I’ve been doing some consulting with B2B companies that have last-click attribution on social. So you’re telling me that your software company is going to try and sell software off a tweet? Like, that ain’t going to happen. No wonder you think your social media doesn’t work.”

“Ultimately I feel like there’s not enough patience in the game and the culture around B2B is becoming a culture of instant performance and that is not going to work.”

Jay Baer on Employee Advocacy and Customer Experience

“If you have a truly differentiated customer experience, something that creates conversations, your employees will naturally echo that and amplify it and connect the dots for potential customers. They will be part of the marketing arsenal. The problem with employee advocacy is that marketers completely forget what it’s like to be a customer.”

If you have a truly differentiated customer experience, something that creates conversations, your employees will naturally echo that and amplify it and connect the dots for potential customers. @jaybaer

“It’s like this weird amnesia effect sits in and they’re like, ‘Oh, so they’re not just gonna tweet out this thing that says this company is the greatest company in history.’ And it’s like, ‘No bro, you wouldn’t do that either. Why would you think it should be so nakedly promotional? It’s like a commercial and nobody’s going to put that on their personal social media.’ They’re just trying to turn employees into shills and nobody’s down with that.”

Jay Baer on What He Loves Most About MarketingProfs CCO, Ann Handley

“Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t really like anything about her. No, she’s one of my favorite people. She is incredibly, incredibly successful but also one of the most genuine and kind people I know despite her massive success, which is extraordinary. But I’ll tell you the one thing that I will reference that doesn’t get enough talk about Ann Handley, is that as the crazy suit guy, I really appreciate Ann’s pants game.”

“She’s really started, in the last two years especially, I know she’s really starting to lean into the crazy pants routine and I feel like A, she stole my bit, but B, I do appreciate that she’s going for it on the pants. I may have to find some pants for Ann as a B2B forum gift. We’ll see.”

I’m glad I’m not the only one who appreciates Ann’s Pants.  Thanks Jay! 

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B including Jay Baer’s keynote, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the B2B Forum website here. Also, get $100 off by using this mpb2b discount code: B2BFriends

Get more great info from Jay on Convince and Convert and follow Jay on Twitter here: @jaybaer

B2B Marketing Spotlight: Ann Handley on Being a “Badaxe” Marketer #mpb2b

Interview Ann Handley
Twelve years ago I had the good fortune to connect with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and she’s been a positive influence to me on what’s possible in content and B2B marketing ever since.

I’m not alone.

During that time, we’ve both grown as marketers. Well, maybe I’ve grown, but Ann has exploded. She regularly fills keynote rooms at conferences, draws long, long lines of people to get one of her best selling books signed and her company MarketingProfs has attracted over 600,000 subscribers.

Ann Handley is a marketing influencers’s influencer or more creatively, she’s an Annfluencer.

Since Ann is the very first Chief Content Officer ever, a multi-book best selling author, international keynote speaker and who I like to call, The Khaleesi of Content, we’re pretty fortunate to share the following interview. And after recent events in Toronto, you call also call her a “badaxe” marketer.

In the video below Ann and I connected through Zoom to talk about a range of topics including a game of “hot or not” with content marketing tactics, examples of B2B brands doing it right, how she’s achieved meteoric success with her newsletter growth and of course, the upcoming B2B Forum conference happening near Washington D.C. on October 16-18.

Enjoy!

On Axe Throwing and Marketing Metaphors:

“In Toronto for an event I went ax throwing with a bunch of other speakers and attendees at the event. I mean the obvious analogy would be that in marketing it’s all about hitting the target, but I actually think it’s a much richer analogy than that. The analogy that I drew, or where I see marketing and writing reflected in ax throwing, is that sometimes it’s just enough to hit the target, you know? It takes a lot of practice. It takes a lot of courage to stand up there and actually try something. And I think that’s probably why in B2B marketing, it’s so much safer to not throw the ax, to instead just sort of sit behind and do what you’ve always done.”

“And so the analogy is that some days it’s just enough to hit the target, and that it is scary and it’s dangerous, and it can feel uncomfortable to try new things. But I think it’s incumbent on all of us in B2B marketing, whether you are a writer, or a marketer, or whatever role you play in an organization to take some risks, and just get out of the box and throw an ax at that target.”

On B2B Marketing Trends for 2020:

“I’ve been all in on this for a while, and it’s so old school, but email newsletters have made a such a comeback. So many brands are really missing the opportunity with email. They’re so focused on trying to get really great ads, at voice activated applications. You know, what should I … what’s our Alexa strategy? It’s like, why do you have an Alexa strategy? Why are you even thinking about that, when your email newsletter really needs help over here? The email newsletter I think is it’s, it’s vastly undervalued.”

On the Most Common Marketing Questions Ann Gets Asked:

“People ask me a lot about writing, and here’s kind of the funny thing about when people ask me questions about writing. It’s usually preceded by an apology like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m really nervous writing to you, because I’m worried about grammar’. And that’s sort of the problem right there. It’s like, I don’t care about grammar, necessarily. I mean yeah, you want to sort of know the grammar rules more generally, but you can always get some help. You can always fix that later, fix it in post, right? And so I don’t think about great writing the same as great grammar. They’re very different things.”

“When someone expresses some anxiety right off that, ‘I feel so awkward writing to you, because I’m so worried that it’s going to have a mistake.’ I mean, number one, just let go of that judgment, you know? It’s like the ax throwing analogy again. Just stand in the pit and throw the ax. Don’t worry about it.”

Thank you Ann!

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the website here.

If you’re in marketing, I can’t recommend Ann’s Newsletter, Total Annarchy enough. You can subscribe and see back issues here.

Follow Ann on the Twitters here: @marketingprofs & @annhandley

How Can Marketers Create Stronger Customer Bonds? Focus on Convenience, According to Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken on Convenience Marketing

Savvy digital marketers have their ears to the ground and eyes to the sky, striving to be on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest trends, tactics, strategies, and tools. After all, change comes hard and fast in this industry—especially when it comes to evolving buyer demands and expectations.

However, innovation doesn’t have to be net-new. To put a slight spin on a classic line, everything old can be new again. And that’s where convenience as a strategic digital marketing tool.

Convenience has been a core customer service principle for decades. And more often than not, convenience is a defining characteristic of customer experience and the brand as a whole. Think about what 7-Eleven did for weary travelers or time-crunched professionals. Think about what Amazon first did for avid, deal-seeking readers—and what they’re doing now for folks from all walks of life.

They disrupted the industry and created loyal followings by offering a convenient customer experience. And according to customer service and experience guru Shep Hyken, marketers can learn a thing or two from these examples—and what he calls “The Convenience Revolution.”

What separates rockstar companies from all the rest? They’re just easier to do business with. – @Hyken #CX #ConvenienceMarketing Click To Tweet

For marketers, convenience isn’t just a competitive differentiator to be touted in marketing messaging—it’s also a creative lens. According to Shep, there are six convenience principles: Reducing friction, self-service, technology, subscription, delivery, and access—all of which he details in his latest book, The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty.

Recently, Shep was gracious enough to sit down with me to explore what some of these principles and an eye on convenience can do for marketers.

Meet Shep Hyken

Customer Experience Expert Shep HykenShep’s been in the customer service and experience industry for nearly 35 years—it’s in his DNA.

“I started my first business when I was 12,” Shep recalls. “It was a birthday party magic show.”

That’s right. Shep worked his way around the local birthday party circuit performing magic tricks for oohs, awes, laughs, and a bit of cash. But his success was rooted in consistently innovating the service he was delivering.

“Writing thank you notes was the minimum,” Shep explains. “But my parents encouraged me to also ask the parents which tricks they liked the most—and drop the tricks that didn’t make the cut. So, you see, at a very young age I’m saying thank you, I’m asking how the service was, I’m gathering feedback, and I’m using that feedback to make changes—all fundamentals of customer service.”

“And this is all certainly relevant to marketers,” he adds. “Customer service experience is the new marketing; it’s the new brand.”

#CustomerExperience is the new #marketing; it’s the new brand. – @Hyken Click To Tweet

Eliminating the Customer Experience Enemy

Your goal is to deliver the right information, at the right time, to the right person, on the right platform. This is the essence of convenience. You want to make it easy on your audience to get the information they need and to make a decision—and you want to enhance the journey and create a better experience for all.

How do you do this? By reducing friction. Why? Because where friction exists, frustration exists—and frustrated buyers and customers will seek out the path of least resistance.

“Reducing friction is perhaps the No. 1 opportunity for marketers,” Shep states. “It’s simple. If you don’t know your friction points, you can’t improve the customer experience and build customer loyalty.”

Where should you start?

As Shep suggests: “Map and study your customer journey, and ask yourself: What are my top customer touch points? Where is there friction? And how can I reduce that friction?”

Where friction exists, frustration exists—and frustrated buyers and customers will seek out the path of least resistance. #Convenience #DigitalMarketing Click To Tweet

Strengthening Existing Customer Relationships & Attracting Prospects

The customer journey is anything but linear. We know prospective buyers and existing customers are increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers. Many turn to the internet-at-large and social media to research solutions, engage with brands, inform their decisions, and troubleshoot issues.

Marketers have the opportunity to create on-demand content that not only aids existing customers, but also engages prospects. For Shep, this falls under the convenience category of self-service.

#Marketers have the opportunity to create on-demand #content that not only aids existing customers, but also engages prospects. Click To Tweet

“Salesforce is a great example of this principle in action,” he says. “They offer great explainer and how-to content online, which gives their existing customers answers at their fingertips. If customers have a question or issue, they don’t have to call support.”

Here’s an example of one of Salesforce’s How-To videos, one of many featured on their YouTube channel:

[embedded content]

“What makes this a fantastic marketing piece is that anyone who happens to be considering their products can see this great content, allowing them to learn more about how a product works and the level of support offered,” he says.

But what about those who stop the search early and just pick up the phone? Shep says self-service content still plays a pivotal role.

“This content is a great supplement for live support,” he says. “Your team member can answer questions live, but also offer more convenient, digital solutions customers or prospects can walk away with.”

Defining Your Own Brand of Convenience

Here’s an important thing to remember, marketers: Convenience is objective. As Shep points out, what’s considered convenient for one business may simply be unacceptable for another—even within the same industry. That’s why it’s important to define your own brand of convenience—and not fall victim to what Shep calls “We Can Do It Too” Syndrome.

“Marketers need to stop placing so much emphasis on catching up or edging out their direct competitors,” he says. “Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had.

“If you keep chasing what your competitors are doing, you’re always a step behind,” Shep adds. “That’s a good way to go out of business because you’re just doing what someone else is already doing.”

Aim to delight and surprise—not just satisfy—if you want to build relationships and create meaningful connections with your customers and prospects.

“Convenience is a separator between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer,” Shep says. “Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond.”

Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, marketers need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond. – @Hyken #CX #DigitalMarketing Click To Tweet

Create Convenience. Create Loyalty.

Simply put, your customers and prospects want to do business with companies that make their lives easier. They want fast answers to their questions. They want service they can count on, every time. They want convenience. And they’ll pay with their budgets and loyalty.

By adding the convenience lens to your marketing efforts, you can uncover and mitigate friction points, and provide better on-demand content that fosters connections with your customers and prospects throughout their journey.

“As a marketer, you need to think it’s beyond just creating awareness, and think about creating an experience that your customers will talk about to create more awareness,” Shep shares. “The best marketing is when other people market for you.”

The best #marketing is when other people market for you. – @Hyken Click To Tweet

A big thank you to Shep Hyken for sharing his expertise and insights. If you want to get ahold of his new book, it’s on pre-sale now.

How can you foster deeper connections with your customers, prospects, and audience at-large? Create content that resonates. For inspiration on how to do just that, check out our post featuring lessons in resonance from 10 content marketing experts.

Digital Marketing Spotlight: An Interview With Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP

Influencer Marketing Interview Ursula Ringham

They say curiosity killed the cat, but in Ursula Ringham’s case, curiosity is her special gift—both personally and professionally.

“I’m a fiercely curious person who loves storytelling,” Ursula told me. “I guess it’s my hidden talent; I can strike up a conversation with a stranger and get them to tell me their full life story. I’ll talk to anyone. I want to know people and how they think.”

Her curiosity and “love of story” have guided her throughout her marketing career—from early positions at Adobe and Apple to self-publishing a thriller novel to her latest role as Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP*.

“I’m no millennial, but I have the millennial mindset,” she says. “You have to go after what you want. You can’t let fear decide your future. And I know if I put my mind to something, I can do it.”

As influencer marketing booms and social media marketing experiences a quasi midlife crisis, I sat down with Ursula to talk misconceptions, tools, and tips on both marketing fronts.

Q&A with SAP’s Ursula Ringham

Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP1. Tell me about yourself. How did you come into the digital marketing space and eventually join SAP?

I was in the right place at the right time. As you know, I worked at Adobe and Apple, so I had a career in high-tech early on. I actually left Apple right before the first iPhone came out, and I stayed at home with my kids for about eight years.

When it was time to get back in, honestly, no one would hire me. They’d say: “You have great experience from back in the day, but you can’t compete.” Things had changed.

But even when I was at home, I was always doing something—I did some consulting and also worked on my passion for writing. That’s when I wrote and self-published my thriller novel, “Privileged Corruption.” I took creative writing classes, attended conferences and events when I could—and this is still something I do today; attend events to continue to develop because I still have several books in me.

Then in 2012, I was talking with a girlfriend and she said she needed someone to write customer success stories. And while I didn’t have the exact experience, I could write and I thought: “I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”

So, I got a job as a contractor; someone took a chance on me. And that someone was at SAP.

2. You have extensive experience with social media. What have you found to be the universal truths of social? (The things that stay the same no matter what platform or algorithm changes occur.)

Authenticity and storytelling; you need to own your brand—but you need to do it strategically.

As an individual on social or through your brand channels, you need to share the truths about who you are in a way that connects with your audience.

For me, these are the “five truths” I share with my following:

No. 1: My work.

Tell a story that enables people to come with you on the journey. Your audience doesn’t want to hear that your company just released a new product or service. They want to know how you’re solving problems or making a difference.

No. 2: My family.

I don’t give every detail here—just sprinkle some things in. This is how people see a different side and get to know me. You have to give something personal.

No. 3: My passion.

You have to share something you love. Dogs, skiing, Star Wars, poetry—the list goes on. Share something you’re passionate about because you’ll be able to form connections with people who have the same passions.

No. 4: Sports.

Whether you’re a sports fanatic or simply tolerate them, it’s something everyone can connect with and discuss—whether it’s your child’s little league baseball game or the NBA Finals.

No. 5: Third-party voices.

It could be an article from my favorite journalist or the latest commentary on the royal wedding. The point is to share things that you and your audience find interesting.

The bottom line here is: Be authentic. Be yourself (or your brand). But be strategic.

As an individual on #socialmedia or through your brand channels, you need to share the truths about who you are in a way that connects with your audience. – @ursularingham Click To Tweet

3. What do you think is most misunderstood about influencer marketing?

For one, people often think that influencer marketing is all about celebrities hawking a product. It’s truly not about that—especially in the B2B realm. It’s about highlighting experts who have real experience on the business challenges a brand’s audience faces.

Secondly, it’s not always about the number of followers or connections an influencer has. Some people think: “Oh my God. We have to work with this person. They have a million followers.” Your influencers have to be able to relate to your audience and that skill isn’t necessarily determined by a large following.

Thirdly, influencer marketing is not a one-and-done tactic. You want it to be for the long haul, so influencer relationships are everything. You need to dig deep to learn who your influencers are and the expertise they bring, and build a relationship by consistent and thoughtful engagement.

Lastly, influencers can be found within your own company. Your employees can be influencers. People often forget this. You can and should combine internal and external influencers.

4. What’s one “influencer marketing must” that marketers often overlook?

You must have a call to action. What’s the point? What’s your end goal? How are you defining success? Where are you sending them?

Whether your goal is brand awareness or lead gen, if you’re telling a story that has people on the edge of their seat, you need to give them a natural next step to continue their journey.

Regardless of your goal, if you’re telling a story that has people on the edge of their seat, you need to give them a natural next step to continue their journey. – @ursularingham #InfluencerMarketing Click To Tweet

5. Let’s say you’ve run into a long-lost marketer friend who’s considering working with influencers. Where do you tell them to start? What do you tell them to be cautious of?

The main thing is: If you want to succeed, you have to be in it to win it. You have to be on social media, you have to be engaged, you have to follow influencers, you have to engage with them, and you have to read, watch, or listen to their content. And all of this is before, during, and after you reach out for the first ask.

When it comes to vetting who you want to work with, start by digging into their social channels.

Twitter is a great place to learn about the topics and types of content they’re interested in. LinkedIn is great for this, too, but that’s where you can really vet whether they have the expertise and background to make a partnership a good fit. Facebook and Instagram are where you can see if you really want to work with them since you’re typically able to see more personality there.

As for something to look out for, as you’re viewing their social posts, see if they’re just sharing the same things on every channel. A post on Instagram with 10 hashtags will not work on Facebook. Every channel is different and if you keep seeing the same post, it’s like: Where are you? Where’s the authentic side?

Finally, you should be very selective on who you work with. You need to make sure they’re a good fit. Sometimes I’ll actually reach out to a mutual connection or a colleague at a different company to see if they’ve worked with an influencer before and get their read on them.

If you want to succeed at #influencermarketing, you have to be in it to win it. You have to commit. – @ursularingham Click To Tweet

6. Where do you think GDPR and data privacy as it relates to social media and influencer marketing will have biggest impact on how brands engage? (What do brands need to consider?)

GDPR is going to be the stake in the ground for all data privacy—bar none. As GDPR kicks off, we’ll start to see lawsuits and controversies in the news and people will become increasingly aware and engaged. In the U.S., we’re already becoming more aware of data privacy issues, especially after Cambridge Analytica.

But bottom line, GDPR will be really important. And as a result, our influencers will become even more important and valuable. They’re going to be our trusted brand ambassadors; our trusted voices. They’ll be a huge asset because people don’t trust brands outright—they trust people.

In light of #GDPR, influencers will become even more important and valuable. They’re going to be our trusted brand ambassadors; our trusted voices. – @ursularingham #InfluencerMarketing Click To Tweet

7. What’s in your social media marketing toolbox? (What platforms, tools or best practices are your must-haves for success?)

On the personal front, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. A key best practice for me here is tailoring the content and the messaging for each platform because my audience is different for each.

In addition, I post in the moment, every day. Authenticity is important, so I rarely use scheduling tools.

Now, for the brand marketers out there, you absolutely need a social media scheduling and management tool. You need help. And there are so many tools out there like Hootsuite or Buffer, but do your research and select one that meets your brand’s needs from a management and budgetary perspective.

8. How about your influencer marketing toolbox?

Brands engaging in influencer relations and marketing need a tool to help organize, identify, and manage relationships with influencers. A spreadsheet won’t get you very far. Tools can help you keep up with what your influencers are doing and sharing, so you can regularly engage and continue to build relationships.

Like with social media management tools, there are several options like Traackr or Onalytica, so do your research and pick one that’s the best fit.

9. Finally, what are you most excited for in your new role as Head of Global Influencer Marketing for SAP?

Building a world-class influencer program that helps SAP become a Top-10 brand. And we’ll do it through innovative storytelling. We make incredibly innovative products, so we need to tell our stories in innovative ways. And working with influencers will help us do that.

I love pushing the envelope. I love innovative content. And I’m excited about what can happen when we think a little differently.

10. Any final words for other marketers out there?

In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with.

Finally, embrace curiosity, think and do things differently, and embed yourself in your craft if you want to innovate.

[email protected]‘s message to #marketers: Embrace curiosity, think and do things differently, and embed yourself in your craft if you want to innovate. Click To Tweet

Ready to Take the Influencer Marketing Dive?

As Ursula so eloquently said, in order to succeed at influencer marketing, you have to be in it to win it. You have to commit. So, why not start with immersing yourself in influencer marketing tips, tactics, and strategies.

Check out some of these helpful posts to get you more in the know and help you make the leap:

Finally, a big thank you to Ursula for sharing her story and insights. You rock! If you want to connect with Ursula, follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.