Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Influencer Marketing - Leveraging a New Target

The voice of the customer has always been critical to developing the marketing message and influencing the purchaser decision and word-of-mouth has always been the most trusted source for product and service referrals.
If you want a new doctor, who do you ask? Family members, neighbors, co-workers. You may go online and do some research, but usually you'll ask a peer for a referral or opinion as well. The same is true of a new TV, computer, dog food, or any other product or service. An interesting, and important, development to note in this new age, though, is that suddenly an opinion from a single person is going out to hundreds or thousands of individuals in their social network. According to a McKinsey Study, word-of-mouth generates twice the sales of paid advertising and has a 37% higher retention rate. The resulting amplification of peer recommendations cries out for a new marketing tactic. This is where Influencer Marketing comes in.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer Marketing is when the focus of marketing is turned from a target market to key individuals within that market. They may be buyers themselves or they may be third parties, such as vendors or subject matter experts. It basically depends on the individual's reputation, expertise or popularity. This used to mean a focus on bloggers, celebrities, etc., but in recent years the everyday joe may have just as much influence. Forbes provides this equation for determining influence:

Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers

This form of marketing may mean entering into a relationship with the influencer. You might provide them with advance prototypes of a product or invite them to the corporate offices. Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks to this type of marketing. You don't have as much control and if the influencer runs afoul of the law or drops out of the grid, it will be time for some damage control.

What You Should Be Doing

  1. Interact with your customers.

    You really need to leverage your customers. Provide a superior customer experience through loyalty programs, customer advisory boards, or extraordinary promotions.

  2. Identify the Influencers

    There are a lot of tools available to help analyze the social media landscape to determine and rank the influencers. SocMetrics and Traackr are just two tools available to help you identify influencers based on demographic data. Additional options are listed on TopRank Blog.

  3. Form a Relationship with the Influencers

    Start off with a simple hello. Take steps to familiarize them with your product or service and company. A little kindness and generosity goes a long way.

  4. Provide Accessible Content

    Influencers are more likely to provide content that's easy for them integrate into their social media portals. Again, there are a number of tools, such as Zuberance and SocialChorus, to assist you in your brand advocacy efforts.

  5. Don't Forget the Little Sites

    Keep track of the trends of social media sites. You never know when the one you've been ignoring, like Pinterest or Instagram, may be the next big site.

Influencers are the wave of the future and it's our job as marketing professionals to take advantage of every possible resource and be aware of marketing trends. As Scott Cook, the founder and CEO of Intuit said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is–it is what consumers tell each other it is.”