Even in the digital world, not everyone’s word carries the same weight. Local celebrities, niche experts and figures of authority speak with the words that not just reach, but also move people and serve as highly efficient calls to action. Some would say that as a species, we tend to look for leaders, but can this phenomenon be turned to benefit a small business? Let’s find out!
First things first, you need to be aware of the fact that each demographic has its own favorite medium. You may get the greatest Twitter influencer to endorse you, but what effect will this have if you primarily target baby boomers, a demographic with low attendance on this social network. For them, you need to take a different approach. This means that you need to determine the channel you will focus on first and then look for those who have influence there; not the other way around.
Another thing you need to look at is the profession or a field of expertise of an influencer. Sure, having a Hollywood A-list actor back you, is always a great thing (although not something likely to happen to a small local company), however, you might want to look for someone a bit more niche-specific. For example, if you are selling medical supplies, wouldn’t you rather that a reputable local physician backs you up than a local football star. These are all just some of the things you need to look out for when looking for influencers.
Next thing you need to worry about is the way you approach these influencers. Earlier on, we mentioned low chances of having someone universally famous to endorse you, why is this so? Well, because like anything else, influencer marketing is a business. Of course, not everything is necessarily about the money. Some influencers are willing to trade a favor for favor and this is something you need to set clear from the very start. It is only natural that everyone values their own time the most, which is why you need to set it clear from the beginning what you can do for them (what they can do for you is more or less obvious by this point).
Here’s a list of tools that can help:
In most cases, your audience will be mostly interested in those influencers who can bring some value to them. For example, if you take the aforementioned doctor into question, your viewers will tune in to get some free medical advice. The second influencer type we mentioned ‘the football player’ may be there to offer them a tip or two about fitness, or give them an invaluable insight into the life of a professional athlete. Finally, there are those who can teach your audience about starting their own business, opening a one-person startup or even teach them how to get paid online. Still, in order for this to have the maximum effect, you need to identify which of these would interest your target market the most.
Like any other relationship, the bond between the influencer and your audience relies on trust. Trust, however, goes both ways. First of all, it is vital that the influencer that is currently promoting you is seen using your product or services. Imagine a scenario where your line of work is the retail of sport’s gear and your influencer is buying their own equipment from someone else. What kind of a message does this send? “Sure, this gear is good enough for you folks, but for me… not so much?” Still, in order to avoid sending this kind of message, the service you are providing or the product you are selling needs to be good enough. So good in fact, that the influencer won’t mind putting their name next to it.
You see, the name of your brand is not the only thing that is on the line here. If you are an influencer, the last thing you want is to get associated with a company that has a negative business reputation. In this way, you start losing credibility and it becomes more than apparent that you are in it just for the money. Needless to say, this is not something your followers want to see.
Probably the main reason why influencer marketing is so great for small business is its cost-efficiency. As we already mentioned, sometimes you won’t even have to use the cash (which you don’t have), but can pay your influencer with favors such as free products. Sure, this can be quite expensive, as well, but when you consider what you gain in return, it usually turns out to be more than worth your while. Minimum investment, maximum return, this is basically the term cost-efficiency in a nutshell.
Finally, even though pulling off the influencer marketing in the right way can be game-changing, it is vital that you put it into perspective and take a larger picture into account. It is still a part of your overall marketing strategy and it works best when combined with some additional methods. Add an inspiring user testimonial, a review, a tutorial or even some discount offers into the mix and only then will you give a serious boost to your ROI. One more thing, the more you reveal about your product, the less intriguing it will appear, which is not something you want to deal with. Sometimes less is more and shrouding your product in the veil of mystery may only make your target audience to want it more.
As you can see, it is not just about finding the right influencer. It is also about the way you reach out to them, the deal you make and the favors you promise in exchange for their endorsement. Furthermore, the way in which your product is promoted matters almost as much as who is promoting it, which is something you need to be extra careful about. Finally, keep in mind that although vital, influencer marketing is still a small segment of your overall digital marketing strategy.
Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She’s a contributor at BizzMark Blog.