How Top Influence Marketers Reach Consumers and Outflank Competition
Have you tried to reach the consumers you REALLY want … but your results sucked?
That’s how I used to feel when I was PR guy (cubicle monkey) at a huge tech company, HP.
I’d spend hours brainstorming with coworkers, working media pitches, asking my agency for ideas, reaching out to new publications.
But the results were really meh.
I was putting in the time … but I wasn’t getting the results.
My mission to get in front of my ideal consumers (potential customers) with content that motivated them to consider my products was failing.
So I asked a friend for help.
She put me in touch with a couple of guys at a partner company who were working with bloggers … that’s what we called influencers back in 2007.
And when I got on the phone with these guys, it was like a kick in the head … they were crushin’ it.
Yup … these guys were doing what I wanted to do!
At my company, we were doing a ton of content marketing and PR … and I bet you are too.
Here’s the question you have to ask yourself:
Are you getting the traction you want? Are you getting in front of the consumers you want?
I get it.
The competition is fierce and people are dealing with content overload.
What about advertising?
Advertising can be effective, especially with Facebook, but it’s getting more expensive.
So savvy marketers are turning to online influencers to get to customers and outflank the competition.
Check out this graph from Google Trends for search term “influencer marketing”:
That’s an impressive growth chart, right?
The good news is this strategy is gaining momentum but the better news is there is plenty more room to grow.
It doesn’t matter if your business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B).
It works for both and here’s why:
Because you get to your audience through other people: influencers.
– It’s genuine because the influencer posts about what he/she cares about.
– It’s authentic because the content’s not created in some corporate grist mill.
– It’s credible because the infuencers have built trust with their audiences over time.
And even better, word-of-mouth is likely to trigger a purchase 50X more than advertising!
People buy from other people, not brands.
So here’s how the top marketers do it:
Know The People You Want to Reach
Plan to build a “picture” of your ideal consumers, those people you want to reach.
Some people call this building an avatar. It will help you to learn to walk in your customer’s shoes.
Many businesses have a very basic idea of their customers, but don’t really know them well.
The better you know them, the more of an advantage you’ll have.
Here’s what you’ll want to find out:
- Learn Who they are:
- What they want
- What they like
- Who they follow
- What problems do they need help with
- Where do they hang out online?
- Social media groups (Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Forums (Reddit)
- Who [influencers] do they trust & follow?
For example, did you know that 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTuber influencers more than to traditional celebrities?
The world is changing fast.
Have a Goal and Focus on It
Like anything worth getting in life, you have to be clear about this.
There’s no way around it:
You’ve got to know what you want and you have to set achievable goals.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Increase awareness about your brand with consumers.
- Improve website SEO (search engine optimization) so more people find you through Google.
- Get reviews of your products to drive interest and sales.
- Drive attendance to an event.
- Sell X number of products within a set period of time.
Now let’s talk about finding some influencers.
I always start with Google. It’s free, its easy and I always find what I’m looking for.
Don’t be in a hurry. Plan to spend some time locating quality prospects.
You’ll want to make sure you find some that are a good fit — for you.
Look at the content they create:
- What subject are they an authority?
- What topics do they write about or video about?
- Do they have a blog or YouTube channel or both?
- Are they active on social media? Where?
Ask yourself: Does your product fit in with their content? Is it congruent?
Here’s a pro tip: Don’t focus on just bigger influencers.
Much like marketing, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Aim to work with influencers of all sizes.
You’ll have a nice mix this way.
Audit Influencers Quickly
Don’t make this process more difficult than it needs to be.
You just want to assess the influencers quickly and determine if they are a match.
Here are the four measures I use to cull prospects quickly:
- Relevance: Do they publish content that jives with your product or brand?
- Resonance: Is the audience engaged with their content (shares, likes, comments)?
- Reaction: Can they motivate their audience to a specific action like buying a product? Look for CTAs in their posts.
- Reach: Overall audience size (but don’t get hung up on this).
Pretty simple, huh?
The last measure “reach” is where the amateurs get hung up.
They make the mistake of thinking big audiences equal lots of sales.
The reality is an influencer with a smaller, highly targeted audience is much more likely to perform better.
Because their audiences tend to be more engaged because the influencer is present and interacts.
An engaged audience is the sign of a healthy, active audience.
Side note: To bring you up to speed with the cool kids, these are known as “micro influencers.”
Another pro tip: If you are working in the B2B arena, be sure the influencer is a demonstrated authority in your niche.
This is assured by their direct experience (of some kind) in the field.
For example, if your in the heavy equipment business (tractors, excavators, back hoes), your influencers should know a lot about that stuff.
I look to see if they’ve worked in the business at some point.
Hint: check their LinkedIn profile.
Give Reasons to Work with You
Most people want things right away and only think about how someone can help them.
This is why so many agencies and brands like to pay influencers. Its quick and easy.
The trap that many marketers fall into by paying for content is the relationship often becomes a transactional one.
They think of it as an ad buy.
But what if you don’t have a budget to spend or you want something more substantial?
Real, valuable relationships never work short-term.
Be different than the herd and think LONG term.
For example, when I was still a cubicle monkey at HP, I wanted to work with Robert Scoble.
I approached him at a conference and asked him what I could do for him.
He said he’d like to visit the HP Garage, an iconic spot in Silicon Valley history.
It was off limits to most people except VIPs.
So I arranged for Robert and some friends to visit the HP Garage.
It was like pulling teeth to make it happen, BTW! 🙂
But the result was fantastic: I ended up getting a lot out of it including photos, videos, even a podcast.
But I never asked him for that.
But your probably thinking that you don’t have something cool to offer like the HP Garage.
Maybe not, but surely you have something of value to offer?
A product? Or access to a cool, new service? Or some awesome content?
Reaching out to someone and saying, “Hey, I see you review a lot of gadgets. Can you promote my stuff too?” doesn’t work.
It’s also rude.
Instead, take the LONG view and think collaboration.
How should you approach collaborations?
My advice here is pretty simple: Be FIRST to offer VALUE.
That’s right. Give something away BEFORE asking for something.
Here are two ways you can start building relationships with influencers:
1: Create something of value FOR them
Creating content all the time is hard work.
One way to get noticed by someone is to do something for them, to make their lives easier.
Do you have your own YouTube channel? Or a podcast? A company blog?
By featuring them as a guest, you can help them reach a new audience.
Here are some other ideas to spark your imagination:
- Create a review: Has your favorite blogger just released a book or a cool new video lesson? You could produce a video of your own to share your takeaways you got from it.
- Say “thank you:” Inspired by someone? Let them know! One thing that will never get old is receiving an email about how my content has helped someone else. It is really uplifting for me. Create a blog post, social media post, or a video and explain why you’re thankful to the influencer.
- Examine why someone is successful and share it: People are drawn to learning why others are successful and what they can learn from them. Write a post that breaks down of their content, strategies, or business approach — and share it with your followers or people inside your company.
This strategy is as old as the hills… and it works.
You just have to do it right.
You’ll hear some people say this strategy doesn’t work anymore.
But wouldn’t you pay attention to someone who shared your content all over the place?
I’ll break it down in four steps:
- Contact the influencer and ask if it’s okay to share their content (99% will say yes).
- Share their content to your email list, your social channels (not just Twitter)… and internally at your company. Talk about it on your blog and YouTube channel.
- When you share, add some value of your own as to why the content is so good.
- Let them know when you’ve shared it.
Think of it like this:
Sharing someone’s content is the start of your relationship. It’s like saying “hello.”
The key is following up once you’ve shared it. When you do, it gives you a chance to add more value.
- Promote the content to your followers — and get a nice boost in traffic for the infuencer.
- Be sure collect feedback on the content for them, and share the results with the influencer. This can help them create even better content going forward.
When you share the feedback, you generate a lot of value and potential learning opportunities.
Once done, you can continue to build that relationship until you’re ready to discuss a potential collaboration.
See how it works?
Follow this method and start building relationship with influencers so you can get in front of your ideal consumers.
Be sure to let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear about your success!