Data, influencer marketing, and branding will be at the center of B2B marketing in 2023, according to entrepreneur Krishen Iyer.
Iyer, the founder, and CEO of MAIS Consulting believes that data-centric outreach, the use of content creators, and brand advocacy will be primary activities for many B2B organizations this year. When coupled together, those initiatives will provide more relevant and accurate outreach to customers and prospects.
“Data will continue to rise as a critical component of B2B marketing,” said Krishen Iyer. “And the way brands market, who they use to market and measuring that marketing will grow in importance in 2023.”
Krishen Iyer: An Innovator Driven by Technology
Krishen Iyer should know. The San Diego State University graduate has made a career of delivering innovative, technologically driven companies. His focus on new approaches to marketing has made him a pioneer in the insurance technology industry.
In 2009, Krishen Iyer founded NMP Insurance Services, LLP, a California-based insurance sales, marketing, and distribution company that was listed in the Inc. 5000.
Later, Iyer founded ILH and co-founded Managed Benefit Services, a marketing and insurance distribution company. In 2019, he founded MAIS Consulting, a La Jolla, California business that’s a technology-centric health insurance company. MAIS Consulting also helps companies with contracting, marketing, strategic growth, and company policies.
MAIS has had considerable success in a short time. In late 2022, for example, the company secured first-round financing, the company’s first capital commitment. The funds will allow MAIS Consulting to help thousands of people living in 23 states to gain access to low-cost insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act.
Data-Driven Technology Key in 2023
For brands to achieve success in 2023, they need a hyper-focus on the information available to them. Leveraging their data will help companies better understand and respond to customers, who expect deeply personal, connected, and informed relationships with the brands they use.
Today, brands have access to an incredible array of data. It comes from transactions over a website or at a cash register. It is generated by the use of mobile apps and website engagements.
The challenge, said Krishen Iyer, is having the tools in place that can collect and store massive amounts of customer information.
“The opportunity is there,” Iyer said, “to build exceptionally detailed profiles about your customers. The challenge, though, is to collect the information in a way that it’s usable and actionable.”
At play are the various regulatory mandates that are growing in number and complexity. Increasingly, governing bodies at the state, national and regional levels are passing guidance that restricts what brands can do with data.
Take, for example, the General Data Protection Regulation. Passed several years ago, the regulation covers European Union residents. The GDPR restricts how brands can use data and gives consumers extensive rights to know what data are collected, how they are used, and if they are sold. The rules also give consumers the right to force brands to not sell, or even delete, collected information.
The state of California has passed similar legislation, and more states are expected to follow.
In these cases, the rules brands must follow are extensive. And failure to comply can lead to stiff financial penalties.
“These data rules are a good thing,” Krishen Iyer said. “However, they require brands to be diligent and persistent in their compliance to prevent serious consequences.”
In addition to regulatory issues, brands are also grappling with the loss of a key source of data – cookies. These small files have long been a standard way for brands to gain information about the websites you visit and pages you look at. However, the major browsers, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, are phasing out cookies.
For brands, this means you need to be more diligent about data collection, analytics, storage, and operations. It’s one thing to have a lot of good data. The challenge, however, is to have ways to use it.
Krishen Iyer on the Creator Economy
“Creators come in many shapes and sizes,” Krishen Iyer said. “The creator economy, driven by easy-to-use apps and popular platforms, is rethinking the way brands consider digital marketing.
For many people, the creator economy means influencers. While many influencers are celebrities, other influencers are those with an avid following on popular social media platforms, such as TikTok, Facebook, or Twitter.
Influencers grew in popularity first among consumer brands, with folks like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians touting clothing, jewelry, and other items. However, in recent years, there’s been a shift beyond B2C influencer marketing.
“B2B influence marketing has changed the way brands reach audiences,” said Krishen Iyer. “Collaborating with B2B influencers can lend your brand awareness, credibility, and reach.”
There’s a fine line with influencer marketing. On the one hand, it can provide vast exposure via influencers’ volume of followers. Picking the right influencers to partner with can enhance relationships with existing customers and build new audiences.
When you have influencers who know and use your products, are seen as industry experts, and have knowledge of your brand, the impact can be palpable, said Krishen Iyer.
“Imagine the impact of having a well-respected, well-known influencer speaking directly to your B2B customers and prospects,” Iyer said. “You’ll raise your profile with customers who are in the know when hearing about your products and services from someone they trust.”
However, there needs to be relevance and expertise in what the influencer is saying about your brand. Otherwise, you can erode credibility quickly. Having the right influencers is critically important to strengthening your brand.
Brand Advocacy a Growing Trend in 2023
In the web’s early days, brands viewed spaces like websites and social media as communities. They embarked on ambitious initiatives to listen and engage with them on these various channels.
However, that type of engagement has decreased in recent years, in large part due to the realization that these channels were essentially marketing vehicles and not communities, per se. The rise of influencers also contributed.
However, brand advocacy is experiencing a renaissance. Brand advocacy occurs whether you want it to or not, according to Krishen Iyer. That’s due to the prevalence of review sites, social media chatter, and informal conversations between your customers and peers, colleagues, and friends. That talk is there regardless of what you do.
Brand advocacy means leaning into the discussions about your brand. Platforms that capture feedback, provide opportunities for reviews and track social chatter continue to offer opportunities to your brand. Brands that embrace feedback and advocacy are more likely to improve products, services, and customer relationships.
Brand advocacy goes a step further. It’s also not new – testimonials, positive reviews, and references have served the same purpose for decades. Intentional brand advocacy — reaching out to advocates and having them spread your message – builds trust among current and potential customers.
“Brand advocates, like influencers, need to be voices that know your products or services,” Krishen Iyer said. “They need to provide authenticity, with the ability to speak the truth while talking to others who may be interested in your brand.”
Digital marketing today is the go-to channel for many brands. By focusing on data, influence, and advocacy, brands will be better positioned to meet the challenges of 2023 and beyond.