Beyond target market, beyond word of mouth, influence marketing.
When your marketing efforts focus on very specific individuals, individuals that have influence over buyers – you’ll see impressive results. Because the general public is so desensitized to traditional marketing, businesses need to work harder at pursuing people. Targeting influencers counteracts the tendency to ignore traditional marketing.
Who are Influencers?
Influencers may be buyers. They may be retailers or manufacturers. They may be journalists, analysts, advisers, or people with an impressive number of Twitter followers. Social influence rests on those who have the power to persuade.
It doesn’t mean these people are salesmen or coerce others. They subtly shape a consumer’s purchasing decision. So subtly, in fact, that the influenced may not even be able to identify the influencer. An influencer has above average reach and impact with his or her word of mouth. They are dynamic individuals.
Keller and Berry identify five attributes of influencers. They are activists involved in the community (charity, politics, etc.) Influencers are looked up to and trusted; they have an impact. They are connected. Influencers have large social networks. Influencers set trends. They are the first to adopt or leave.
To find your influencers, ask how likely your customers are to refer you to a friend or colleague. Then determine what the market reach is, how many opportunities they will have to influence the buying decision of others, and how much they know about the subject.
Marketing to Influencers
Once you’ve identified influencers you’ll want to build a relationship with them. If they are going to promote you, they’ll want to know what’s in it for them. Of course you could give away your product to a few choice people in hopes they’ll talk positively about you, but there is more to it.
Do your influencers hear from you regularly? Do they get your newsletter? See your blog? Are you giving them preferential treatment at trade shows? Look for opportunities, better yet, create opportunities where your influencers will open up. A nice meal is always a good idea.
You need to be aware of what is going on. Listen to the conversations for awhile before you begin to speak. Observe other industries and niches. Look for practices that you can implement, preferably for the first time in your industry.
There are now web services that will search for influencers. Marketing firms will ask these people to try a product or service and discuss it in their social network. The advantage of online influence marketing is the quick turnaround. Product and site reviews should also be considered. Many who hear about a new company will research online before making a decision.
Take the time to identify and influence those that will influence others. This is word-of-mouth, target marketing at its finest.
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