Do you remember the scene in Annie Hall when Annie and Alvy are in line to see The Sorrow and the Pity, and overhear a man criticizing avant-garde films? What happened next made the scene memorable. Alvy brings Marshall McLuhan, the ultimate media analyst and cultural know-it-all, right into the conversation and Marshall – in person – handily refutes the amateur critic.
Marshall McLuhan was an influencer. What he thought mattered, winning arguments, hands down! Courting these types of pinnacle people and having them on your side – and speaking well of your brand – is the essence of Influencer Marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that encourages experts (like Marshall McLuhan) to think well and speak positively about a brand. Done right, it can have a huge effect on a company’s visibility and sales. Who these influencers are and how they exert their influence varies widely, but the concept is: convince influencers to generate ‘buzz’ for the benefit of your brand. Affiliate with an advocate in your industry, and if their point of view is aligned with your brand’s, that influencer can get people thinking favorably of your product or service.
Who Are Influencers?
Influencers can be relatively famous, or known just in niche communities. Here are a few things that influencers have in common:
- Influencers have reach: they have a following and its real and relevant to your audience
- Influencers have respect: they aren’t just opinionated; they are trusted
- Influencers have active platforms: they publish content regularly—on social media, on blogs, on podcasts or in publications like this one!
- Influencers are inspiring: their words make people act
How You Can Do Influencer Marketing – Locally And Affordably
Small businesses can ‘do’ influencer marketing with a little creativity and effort. If you approach it as potentially fun and beneficial then you’ll be more apt to pull it off.
Here are some ideas about how to get the ball rolling on this unusual marketing and PR approach:
- Identify influencers.
- Then build a rapport.
- Approach a few influencers with a concrete proposal.
- Then follow up!
Find out who has influence in your world. It might be a subject matter expert, a reviewer or a local celebrity. Find your customers on Twitter and see who they are following. You might look for educators, public speakers, media personalities or writers. Bloggers can be big influencers. Whoever you find, be sure that it’s someone that your target audience actually pays attention to. Check out that person’s writing and speech content – does it feel like a natural extension of your company’s voice?
Start liking and sharing what your target influencers are publishing. Respond in a brief note to a blog and say why you appreciated the piece. Do something for him or her that’s going to be memorable. Maybe that blogger has mentioned wanting to try a particular dessert or read a latest best seller. Be impromptu and send it their way! Don’t do this right away though. Take time to let the bond build.
Tweet a coffee connoisseur that you’ve got a new bean blend you’d like her to try. Send a food blogger a sample of your new paleo bar. When they respond, ask them to mention your product or service at some point soon. Don’t be shy, but do be judicious. Not fawning, but straight up.
As people become increasingly wary of traditional advertising, influencer marketing becomes a more energetic and surprising element of a marketing plan. Gaining the favor of a ‘whale’ in your industry can pay huge dividends. It doesn’t take money, actually – it just takes research, creativity and time. And careful, slow effort.
Who do you know that’s worth their weight in gold for your brand? Start courting that luminary!