A buzzing trend within the B2B sector is the marketing transformation that many companies are undergoing.
Digital marketing has become increasingly important for B2B companies in general, and for those that aim for the Chinese market in particular.
In this guide, NBH talks about Influencer Marketing for B2B, in China often referred to as KOLs (Key opinion leaders) or just Opinion Leaders.
Digital Marketing for B2B
Chinese consumers tend to be more receptive to digital trends and adapt fast to a constantly changing environment. When people in the west think of Influencer Marketing they think of B2C.
Within B2B, business relations have for long been more traditional, in the form of participating in fairs, and events and handing out business cards. The digital transformation that’s taken place within B2C has not reached the same impact in B2B, until now.
This trend has many explanations, primarily digital development, but the pandemic may also be the answer to this rapid change.
Physical meetings are of course still important, but adding a digital presence has become more crucial.
KOLs a.k.a. Opinion Leaders for B2B in China
Collaborations with Opinion Leaders within B2B have come to be an important part of the marketing strategy in China. China has built many platforms that target specific industries. You may recognize digital platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, and Baidu, but there are also many other possibilities and platforms to work with.
To give a few examples…
- Zhihu is China’s largest Q&A platform and has a wide variety of industry professionals who provide solid information and is trusted by millions of users. Zhihu should be one of the most prioritized platforms if you as a B2B company want to increase your digital presence. Read our Guide to Zhihu here.
- Bilibili is one of China’s largest video platforms. The platform invites quality content and attracts a wide range of targeting groups and industries. On this platform, you have the opportunity to think “outside the box” and push video content. Read our Guide to Bilibili here.
- Douyin is “China’s” Tiktok. Here you might feel confused, can it really be for B2B? The answer is yes. In China, the Tiktok platform has a longer history than in the West and is often used for educational and research purposes. Douyin has a wide range of users of different ages. Read NBH Douyin Guide here.
- Industry Media: Push your message with PR in Industry Media. China offers a range of branches and e-news. Read more about Industry Media for B2B here.
These are just a few examples of how you can increase your online precence.
Collaboration with an Opinion Leader and pushing campaigns is an effective way to increase your visibility, spread your message, gain credibility and more leads.
Because, how will your targeted audience find you if you don’t let them know that you exist?
Pick a “star” of your industry
China’s digital landscape is complex and varies between different geographical areas, sectors, and targeted groups. Therefore, always use an Opinion Leader with a local connection.
Although there are great similarities between more traditional B2C KOL-marketing and Opinion Leaders within B2B, there are also some important differences.
Within B2B, the aim is first and foremost to build trust within your targeted area. Second, to reach as many potential stakeholders as possible. The choice of opinion leader should therefore be made with these two factors in mind.
To increase credibility and trust, you should choose a person with a good reputation, who is, for example, an expert in the field in which you are active. It could be a person with long professional experience, a researcher, or an important name in the industry.
If you are active in wind power, a local researcher with high credibility may be an option. In pharmaceuticals, it can be doctors, etc.
Don’t estimate the value of collab with an Opinion Leader
Just like all marketing, it’s about valuing the cost against the potential effect. The opportunities that a collaboration with an Opinion Leader can provide are huge. And they can add value to your business.
Opinion leaders are the new reality in China. And perhaps the question should not be whether it is too costly to cooperate with them, but rather if you can afford not to.
The market has changed and standing still usually means falling behind.