For retailers and brands, influencer marketing is a no brainer, but there’s more to it than having a teen arrange food or makeup and share it on Instagram.
An influencer can be a perfect and powerful add-on to a marketing campaign – as long as you find an individual or brand with great presence in a market, and whose messages have impressive reach, frequency and independence.
There are different reasons why you might get involved in influencer marketing. For some businesses it’s about brand building. For others it’s about promoting a specific product. Regardless, it should always be about giving audiences something that is aligned with your brand, and which they need.
Cosmetics business Mecca, for example, already connects with its consumers on Instagram and Snapchat in particular, sharing beauty tips, giving advice on colour arrangements, talking about the pros and cons of particular products, and more. And, a real sign of success – the community very much drives that conversation.
Under Armour, at the other end of the scale, engages its audience through apps, providing informative content on how to perform well through exercise. It’s a less direct approach because it doesn’t focus on products, but it is very much about engaging with the audience in a way that gives them something they want and is well separated from direct sales.
The trust that comes from building a relationship that is separate from the sales/customer relationship is a powerful offering. And influencers can play a big part in building it by bridging the gap between the customer and the brand – in the eyes of customers, the influencer is ‘just like them’, or who they aspire to be, so they are as removed from any sales process as the customer themselves.
Think first about how you will structure your campaign – who you might market to, through and with influencers.
Marketing to your influencers requires you to identify them, engage in a relationship with them and make them aware of what you offer. You hope this leads to marketing through them. This is when your own brand message starts to pop up in their content – they are endorsing your message.
Marketing with an influencer is a further extension – you act as partners with them and jointly take your messages to market.
Great influencers will vary according to industry, but they’re typically well connected, particularly online, and their peers will often reference their thoughts, reports, tweets and blogs. If they’re an individual then they are likely either a heavy hitter or an emerging player in the retail industry – someone the heavy hitters tune in to.
For example, two people we might use to reach retailers are in that first category, heavy hitters. One is Paul Greenberg, Chairman of the National Online Retailers Association, and the other is Paul Zahra, ex CEO of David Jones and a global retail adviser. What makes both stand out is their market reach, their frequency (or how often they provide an opinion or are quoted) and the market validating what they are saying.