“Can you hear me now?” We all remember Test Man; the Verizon pitchman whose famous phrase became the trademark of the cellular giant. “I used to ask if you ‘can hear me now’ with Verizon,” Paul Marcarelli said while featured in a recent Sprint commercial. “Not anymore.” Naturally, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure is betting that Marcarelli will bring along a wave of new customers. Influencer marketing, the practice of engaging and collaborating with industry stars, experts or insiders to meet your own business goals, is nothing new, but the ever-expanding universe of social media creates multiple opportunities to cash in on the marketing tactic. Remember, your business doesn’t need the very recognizable Verizon guy, whose five-word question quickly found a place within American pop culture, but being recognizable is a factor.
What is influencer marketing?
Sometimes the go-to sources or leaders in your industry provide something that a solid business plan cannot, and that’s not a knock on anyone’s five-year plan. Small businesses, especially new ones, do not have what influencers have at their disposal – at least not immediately. Industry influencers, through their years of expertise, magnetic personalities, business acumen or social media presence, are equipped with a giant megaphone, which demands the ears and hearts of their targeted audience. Simply put, they have credibility and listeners. Businesses can leverage that voice to meet their own business goals. The bottom line is that this type of partnership will help amplify your brand. Their credibility can take what you want to be said about your company to new heights.
How does it work?
It’s important to keep in mind that influencers are not simply those who have the most followers on social media. Instead, your company should focus on niche influencers who stay true to the industry relevant to your market and desired client base. Once you’re able to partner with someone you believe is trusted, marketing tools featuring them, like blogs entries, videos, online commercials, and the like, will help boost your brand and credibility as a company – and that process can lead to business growth and sales. The relationship need not be formal, a simple back-and-forth on Facebook or Twitter can have a positive impact. (Think about how the person’s followers might react to the interaction, or, dive into the influencer’s followers or study interactions to create your own ideas.) You want this relationship to feel natural and if the influencer truly believes in your product and/or services, the more chance that your efforts with influencer marketing will be effective. Potential customers will see through the tactic if it doesn’t feel genuine.
How influencer marketing benefits small businesses
Small businesses, like any business, have to start somewhere. At times, that starting point is zero, as in zero followers on social media sites. Of course, that number grows right alongside you, as your business multiplies its client base and your marketing becomes more sophisticated and robust. A market influencer, has a leg up because they already have a strong following on social media. So it makes perfect sense to attach your business to these movers and shakers. It can be cost effective. Getting someone on board for this type of marketing is as flexible as social media, meaning that an initial investment can be minimal compared to other forms of advertising or marketing tactics. It’s also up to your business to identify who best represents your market, values and customer base. Translation: There’s a large pool of suppliers, who come in all different shapes and sizes. You can also work with an agency to help you identify industry influencers and guide you in building that relationship. As we know, word-of-mouth marketing is one of the oldest and purest forms of attracting and retaining customers. Finding the right influencer, even if it’s someone known within your community, can have the same effect. These insiders have a proven rapport with their followers, so much so, that some experts compare them to a trustworthy friend who vouches for another. When someone sees them online, they pay attention to what they are saying. Have questions about influencer marketing? Ask us about our influencer marketing program.