Noun. Marketing Term:
- “A person or group that has the ability to influence the behavior or opinions of others: The influencer is the individual or group whose effect on a purchase decision is in some way significant or authoritative.”
It is true. Much like in personal life, many in business are influenced, convinced or persuaded by others to change or alter their thinking, opinions, practices, or decisions.
Why not? After all, gleaning new insight and information from trusted contacts who have either experienced the products or services of a business – or who are familiar with but not part of the brand or source – is a means to a credible reference.
For years, many in marketing have heard the coined phase, “Word of Mouth.” An old adage, the concept has served its purpose for years in terms of generating interest in brands and their products or services. But, for those willing to stay tuned regarding this mindset’s more modernized trend shift, the positive impact of influencers on sales and marketing can be astounding.
So, then, exactly what is “Influencer Marketing”?
Start by setting aside the outdated approach to one-way marketing messages. You know it well- the timeworn method of static messages about a business and that which it sells, hoping the information resonates with sales leads, customers or clients.
Now, think about two-way and interactive marketing based upon the influence of others. Neither your marketing staff, nor your sales team have the power to influence your customers like others do.
Who are these all-important influencers?
For one, they are not you. Influencers in marketing include those reputable contacts who are not part of your personnel and have earned the trust of people within your target audience sectors. They are reliable third-party influencers who have built a follower, fan or reader base that is often swayed by their recommendations, written content and expressed opinions.
The list of possible influencers is long, and good that it is. Influencers with whom you should be interfacing for the benefit of your brand are editors, journalists, columnists, bloggers, vloggers, industry experts, renowned analysts, social media gurus, and others who are authorities within your industry as well as the scope of how you conduct business.
Those who possess the platform to endorse your marketing messages, boost your acclaim, or drive others to purchase your products or services- they are the influencers you want and need to know. As you ramp up for 2017 marketing budget allocations, consider these stats:
- 84% of marketers plan to implement Influencer Marketing programs within the next 12 months. ~ eMarketer study.
- From 2014 to 2016, traditional paid advertising has dropped in favor, whereas Influencer Marketing has grown. ~ Nielson finding.
- Influencer Marketing now requires public relations managers to interact with an increasing number of external contacts who have the power and platforms to advocate for or endorse a business. ~ Eberly & Collard Public Relations focus group.
Four Strategies to Build Relationships with Influencers
Start with strategic content marketing:
In order to gain the endorsement of external influencers, your business should first define strategic and long-term marketing outreach and publicity goals. This includes uncovering how you brand is currently being perceived by your customers, clients and others, and how you would like to enhance those perceptions. Begin to develop brand-augmentation messaging points, sound bites and innovative forms of print and digital self-published content. The most effective content will be formulated and disseminated with a clear and creative approach.
Rather than “telling” or “informing” your targets how they should perceive your brand, offer them engaging and resourceful information that causes them to view your business as an industry helpmate or supportive analyst. Self-publish this written and video content via your owned media- i.e., your website, blog and social media channels, giving your customers and prospects a solid reason to keep your URLs in their feeds.
Find and engage trusted influencers:
Next, research a diverse group of external contacts, businesses, media outlets, industry associations, and a range of influential connections in, around and involved in your field. Determine good influencers for your brand by studying their potential applicability and viability for being ambassadors for your business. If they have a known and existing trust factor among your customer- or client-types, and they own a share of voice to effectively persuade your targets, initiating an authentic relationship with the influencer(s) is beneficial.
Look for influencers in relative places to your business, such as popular social media enthusiasts, qualified professional associations, well-attended conferences or tradeshows, B-to-B or B-to-C online forums and blogs, top 20 trade publications, top 100 (or more) business or mainstream media outlets, and anywhere communities have formed that could yield proactive, positive interactions. Engage and interface with these influencers as an ongoing matter of day-to-day activity for your business. Get involved, stay connected, be social, and actively participate.
Execute press and media relations:
Edit the above-mentioned content in Associated Press style, and implement tactical public and media relations to produce earned media. Draft press releases, news briefs, product notices, completed project announcements, and other media outlet-focused narratives regarding your business, personnel, news, awards, and accomplishments. Submit these official content documents to a list of well-researched editors, reporters and media members, and follow-up with them by way of media relations best practices.
Take time to uncover where, when and how your customers, prospects and leads tend to read or view their news. It is these media outlets to which you should submit customized releases. In turn, as select media outlets publish or report your news, they will naturally act as influencers, which can lead your target audiences to your website or other forms of connecting with your company. Media-endorsed information about your business is one of the surest ways to increase branding and sales.
Cultivate and maintain your brand influencers:
In all of your Influencer Marketing efforts, remain true to the brand standards your business holds sacred. Adhere to a set of guidelines that makes it possible for everyone within your organization to create and grow relationships with influencers.
As you develop new informational content of interest to your audiences and invite the influencers to share it with the contacts who admire them, be sure to include key search words and URL links in subtle ways.
Though, do not oversaturate the content with promotional or sales information. Your influencer campaign content should be purposed to form both inbound and outbound leads activity through non-sales language. Yet, it should have an attention-grabbing and a value-added informational tone.
As you proceed with cultivating relationships with the influencers, think of them as allies for your brand. Provide mutually beneficial support to those willing and able to persuade, refer or guide their followers toward you and your business.
By implementing Influencer Marketing rife with valuable content, your business will become known as offering value, data and insight to your customers, or those who could become customers. If well planned, your content will be shared and re-shared by others, going viral and building new forms of outreach and impressions. Finally, your business will breed new relationships with significant, persuasive contacts paramount to your sales and marketing success.
For a customized campaign to garner influencer relations for your business, brands, products, and / or services, contact us…
Eberly Collard Public Relations develops and executes regional, national and international public relations programs for clients that help them join effective communities and conversations, which evoke new relationships for them with media members, customers or clients, and relevant influencers. www.eberlycollardpr.com/contact-us