By Andy Marken
With the growing popularity of YouTube and Facebook, Influencer Marketing has become the mantra of social media marketers.
They figure the folks with the biggest follower numbers mean more eyeballs. And people who don’t have the huge numbers must be less knowledgeable, less credible.
I recall as a kid on a family trips my dad would say we’ll eat at a specific truckstop because it had a lot of trucks in front and truckers always knew where they served the best food.
Hey, what did I know, I was a kid and didn’t have a vote anyway!
Marketing is working harder and paying more these days to find people who will watch/listen to their messages, and it’s increasingly difficult to be heard, believed.
I personally don’t get the value proposition of YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Baidu Tieba and other social media “influencers,” other than they have 100M plus registered users/followers.
Even my kids know these people are getting paid to mention something, wear something, show something off.
But when it comes to filmmaking, IT, healthcare, storage technology and any number of other fields; people seek out statements, observations and advice from industry experts because they know these people are talking about products that are part of their daily work.
Because they use those things to make a living, they add street credibility to the brand/product.
But most marketeers overlook one of their most valuable voices in influence marketing … the boss!
You hear or read their name and immediately, you know the company.
You want to learn more about what the company is doing, straight from the person who’s reputation is tied to the company, brand.
Assets you know include:
- Ginnie is IBM
- Jeff is Amazon
- Reid is Netflix
- Tim is Apple
- Jeff is GE
- Jen-Hsun is Nvidia
- Larry is OWC
- Michael is Dell
- Elon is Tesla…and SpaceX and…
- Sir Richard is Virgin
- Meg is HP
Regardless of the market, when the visionary leader says something, you listen … you pay attention … you remember.
Unfortunately, 90 plus percent of the firms out there are faceless.
The CEO’s or president’s name and a carefully crafted quote by marketing is dropped into a press release that is immediately forgotten.
What a freakin’ waste!
Think about it. What are your influence marketing goals?
- Establish credibility in the market
- Raise the visibility of the company and its products
- Create social conversations around the brand
- Drive online, in-store sales
Leveraged Marketing – Sound marketing is more than just selling a product. It’s about carving out a strong position in the marketplace that lifts the organization and everything it offers — products, services and support.
Who speaks with greater authority and experience about the product than the person everyone holds accountable
They set the tone. Their words and actions set their business apart from competitors.
They establish the base for all of the influence marketing activity that follows.
Company leaders aren’t the only influence marketing tool used, but they should be the first!
Then, you can add respected market area influentials and encourage user reviews to expand the customer base, strengthen market position/mindshare and increase sales.
Balance – Certainly, the company wants to expand its customer base, but equally important is keeping existing customers and improving the customer relationship.
Usually, when someone mentions influencer marketing, they’re talking about people with a large social following who are considered trendsetters.
It’s all about the individual.
In your market, the audience is tightly defined and influence varies dramatically.
The best influencer activity is one that reinforces your senior management and his/her business philosophy/integrity.
Then, focus on influencers who are:
- activists in their community
- well connected, respected and trusted authorities
- well-versed in the market’s business trends, activities, technology
The most effective influencer relationships are those of professional equals where the individual:
- Receives advance briefings on products, services
- Has access to and uses the product/service prior to the formal announcement
- Is compensated for time/expenses when speaking at events as a guest of the company
Anything more than that and I think it tarnishes the individiual’s reputation and yours but … it’s your call.
Marketing Done Right – Adding value to the company’s brand and raising loyalty with present customers are strong measures as to how successful marketing is in today’s business environment.
The value isn’t that the influencer promotes the specific points and features that marketing has carefully crafted, but how it works for the influencer.
That also means the company has to listen to the influencer’s advice/recommendations – tough for marketers who “know they’re right.”
Getting new customers is a high priority for most marketing efforts. However, developing stronger relationships with existing customers is also important.
In spite of all of the data marketers accumulate on their customers, they often lose sight of the fact that they’re dealing with humans and emotions. Even with your best marketing message, consumers are more influenced by other people than they often realize.
Outside Your Reach – Most of the key influences in a consumer’s purchasing decision are beyond marketing’s direct control. It’s all in the detail and the follow-up after the purchase.
People take positive reviews as social proof a product or service is worth the purchase.
A good, balanced review reinforces their buying decision.
The power of WOM (word of mouth) marketing can never be taken for granted!
The concern for most marketers though is the dark unknown … they can’t “control” the customer’s review.
Hint … that has never been possible!
Customers who are vocal online – positively and negatively – can influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of others.
According to the Wall Street Journal, credible reviews can provide social proof that influences people’s decisions.
You have to realize that the customer isn’t able to test and evaluate the product/service before purchasing, so the review won’t include all of the carefully crafted marketing points you created.
As they say, “Your mileage may vary.”
Despite the unknown factor, the company should be proactive and encourage/assist happy customers in becoming brand advocates with reviews that reflect their experience and opinions.
Young and Smart – Every generation has a lot of reasons for making the purchases they do. Price is important, but there a lot of considerations before they ask “how much?”
Perhaps the most difficult part of your advocate program is to convince your own team to encourage the customer/reviewer to be honest.
Truthful and credible aren’t just nice, they’re a necessity!
Negative feedback doesn’t have to stay negative. At times, that can mean fixing the problem, improving customer service or something as simple as rewriting user/installation information.
If the issue is more complex, ask the customer to contact you directly to discuss the issue and resolve the situation … if possible.
Surprisingly, you might find that the customer has discovered a better way to do things, a feature that really resonates with users or a benefit you hadn’t seen.
There are a lot of reasons customers buy from your firm and purchase the specific product/service so the personalized review – the likes, dislikes – might be appealing to more people than you realize.
Customers really are smart!
Respond as quickly as possible to the advocate’s review.
Express your thanks and reinforce what he/she liked most about the product/service and add insight into what the company did to include those features, capabilities.
Make them part of the “in” crowd.
And make the process as simple as possible so everyone will be happier … including prospective customers.
In today’s social media world, reviews can reach hundreds, even thousands of people the minute someone hits the post button.
Just remember what Doc said, “Let us take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let us be considerate of our country, our fellow citizens, and our associates in everything we say and do.”
Now that’s the kind of boss you want … the kind of company you want to buy from … the kind of company you want to recommend to friends and family.