Influencer marketing can work for your business no matter what the size. We have all heard about influencer marketing and every day there are more examples and case studies, but can it really work for you and your brand? The answer is yes, and you don’t have to be a large brand either. See influencer marketing is not actually new. Some of the best companies in the world are built on the principles of influencer marketing (Nike, Redbull, Apple).
Influencer marketing is not what people think… exactly. Here is a comparison of what people think it is vs what it is at the core. Once you understand that you can find new ways to grow your business with influencer marketing. People often confuse endorsements and spokespeople with influencer marketing. Here is a definition of influencer marketing:
Influence marketing is a form of marketing where focus is placed on specific key individuals rather than the market as a whole.
Leveraging the small group of people who can influence the larger market is smart strategy. This concept is at the heart of my recent article about market segmentation. Now where I will challenge the common thoughts on influencer marketing is that you should look for non-customers who are influential in your industry. Why would you go to an industry leader before your own paying customers who with their wallet already voted for your product. With all the talk about authenticity and being genuine online, customers are as authentic as they come. This also eliminates the worry that a sponsored or paid endorsement will somehow ruin the credibility of the influencer or the campaign.
If you don’t know your top customers, why would you be looking for new ones? Customers are a great source of influencer marketing. You need to reward the people already talking about your product and brand for free to encourage them and thank them for the business value they are bringing you. You need to turn your customer loyalty in customer royalty. It starts by identifying your best customers. This may be repeat customers or customers who have shown their love for your brand and/or referred your business to others. If you aren’t tracking this already then you need to get your priorities straight. Driving revenue while ignoring your customers will not work out. Start within, track, identify, categorize the business successes (I mean customers) you already have had.
Influencer marketing through customers costs less. If you want the top influencer to share your product you are going to have to pay for it. With customers, they would be honored for you recognizing them. You could give them some free product or service you offer because they already like it enough to buy it without being asked. They also already went through your sales funnel and are exactly the people you are looking for. Imagine if you had a whole bunch of brand advocates out there sharing the decisions they already made to purchase your product. They can sell it better than a non-customer because they know why they chose it and what makes it special.
If you have customers, you have an influencer marketing campaign waiting to happen. This doubles as market research, buyer persona optimization, PR, and so many other business benefits. Why chase the potential customers when you can discover the real ones. It all starts with your own customer base. I am always amazed at how I might ask for a Tshirt from a brand I love and they say, “We don’t have one.” They literally have a customer saying I want to advertise on my body for your product and they don’t take $30 and make a custom shirt to give a fan. At the same time they will drop thousands of dollars running paid ads in hope that it might grab a new customer for them.
Not all customers are created equal. The thing is that even the customers you have are not all the same in their love for your product or their influence. Some met the threshold of buying it which is huge, but then there are the ones that love it, the ones that are willing to share it and refer it, and even then are the ones who have influence over others. Seth Godin calls these Sneezers. Malcomb Gladwell calls them Mavens. Both of those brilliant authors see the power of certain individuals and how they can spread the word and influence buying decisions about your product. Why would you dig through rock to build a road when there is a natural pathway that is perfect already? Customers are the easy choice.
Leverage your influence to create influence. So your company has social media accounts and marketing and yet few use that to build the influence of their top customers. By shouting them out, you can do two things: you can build their influence which circulates back to your own influence as a 3rd party fan, and you can show your appreciation publicly for your best customers which both builds loyalty, and also rewards those advocating for you already. Lego is a brand that does an amazing job of supporting the top fans of their products. They encourage the community that has already formed around their products by rewarding and offering resources to key groups of fans.
Gameplan – Sort your past and current customers by purchases and influence. If you aren’t tracking them then start. Reach out with an offer on social so you move the engagement from your product to social. Use the social data to further refine your customer sorting. Set up monitors to see who is already talking about your brand good and bad. Engage customers online publicly reward them online. Reach out to the most active best customers and those with influence and turn them into ambassadors for your product or service. Now you have a genuine influencer marketing program built on true fans and real referrals.
Here is a short 10 min video to dig into the topic a little further
Here are some visual Takaways to share: