Two new influencer marketing identification platforms seem to pop up with the demise of each platform that shuts its digital doors.
This tells me that there’s still a growing demand for influencer marketing strategies, but it also highlights the fact that no one seems to be getting it just right.
Five years ago, in the days when Klout was considered the standard in influencer marketing, fellow Sensei Danny Brown and I published a book on Influence Marketing, in which we shared a novel concept for the time: Stop focusing on influencers (and thus influencer identification software) and start focusing on the customers you’re targeting for brand awareness or purchase.
Stop focusing on influencers (and thus influencer identification software) and start focusing on the customers you’re targeting for brand awareness or purchase.
What motivates them to buy? Where do they engage and with whom do they speak when in the consideration or purchase stages of the buyer journey? Only then can you determine who influences your buyers.
Focusing on which influencers will drive business goals without this first steps is truly putting the cart before the horse.
To help marketers better understand how to design and execute influencer marketing campaigns, Jon Ferrara at Nimble has just released the Ultimate Influencer Marketing Playbook for 2018, in which many sales and marketing veterans share their insights and strategies.
I was asked to contribute my thoughts based on experiences designing successful influencer marketing campaigns here, which are rooted in the methodologies Danny and I first published five years ago. Below is a summary of one of those case studies.
CLIENT: ECHO USA
ECHO USA, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of high quality hand-held outdoor power equipment, sought to embrace influence marketing to increase brand-consumer engagement and change brand perception among professional users.
Our client had the wisdom (and the courage) to look beyond short-term vanity metrics to long-term business results.
So, instead of developing a typical campaign that saw industry pros with high follower-counts push product (common in this industry), ECHO allowed Sensei Marketing to develop and manage a community in which landscapers, arborists, and other grounds maintenance professionals exchanged business and product experiences and advice.
Rather than using “influencers” to promote a pre-defined array of products, the ECHO Means Business community (website | mobile app) encourages professionals to share their unscripted business tips and product reviews to support the growth of each of their businesses.
From within this growing community, influencers are identified based on their authenticity, engagement, content, genuine desire to help others, and their ability to effectively engage others.
Select influencers are invited to join a User Advisory Group, which leads the rest of the community in online dialogue or engagements at various trade events.
Influencer incentives are not offered in the way of cash or product per post, view or “like” earned but in the common shared benefit of building one another’s businesses.
This campaign has been (and continues to be) successful because Sensei and ECHO USA choose to not cut corners.
Instead of using software platforms to select high-profile individuals with high-follower counts to promote products, we developed a BRAND AGNOSTIC community “for the pros by the pros” that serviced their needs, not ours.
A community in which both brand advocates and competitors’ customers are welcomed to share whatever experiences or opinions they believe is important to share with their peers. This fosters a genuine and authentic platform from which to sway brand awareness and perceptions, and earns brand respect and trust in a way that traditional software platform-selected influencers could never generate.
While the business benefits are not always short-term, the long-term effects on brand awareness, brand perception, and purchase decisions are proving to be well worth the investment.
Long-term success, the success that results in measurable lifetime value metrics and profit, requires rolling up your sleeves to do the hard work: Defining the buyer lifecycle; researching buyer motivations, identifying possible influence disruptors, and developing communities of real users from which true micro- and macro-influencers may be identified.
In short, focus on the customer and his or her needs first, not the influencer. From there, with a little bit of hard work you can reverse engineer the influence path to determine who and what truly influences them.
Such success is rarely achieved through short-cut influencer identification tools, which, I’d argue, is one of the reasons so many come and go each year.
MORE INFLUENCE MARKETING TIPS
Read more insights that I and other marketing pros have shared in Nimble’s Ultimate Influencer Marketing Playbook for 2018.
Check out another of our influence marketing case studies here: Ringling College Embraces Influence Marketing.