Proactively building relationships with influencers and industry experts is a powerful way to generate demand and leads, and positive word of mouth (WOM). Most of us know this as influencer marketing or influencer development.
Influencer development is the practice of building relationships with key individuals who influence your buyers’ decisions. There are multiple opportunities that come with influencer development, which include:
- Getting more opportunities with people and companies, you may have not otherwise engaged with
- Increasing your close rate and reducing sales cycle time by earning an influencer’s “seal of approval,” thus leveraging their credibility
- Increasing your influence via the “halo effect” by helping thought leaders build their platform, which will also help build your influence
Start by testing and refining your messaging and value proposition. Influencers feel the pulse of the marketplace, and you can learn how you’re perceived and what messaging works in the market by talking to people who live and breathe within each space.
4 Steps to Generate Demand with Influencers
Here are four steps to engage and develop leads via influencer marketing strategy:
Step 1: Target — Map out the key players, experts, and opinion molders in your industry.
Look at speakers at industry events, authors, bylines of contributed articles in trade journals and blogs. Also, be sure to interview your sales team and your potential buyers. This will give you a pretty good map of the people you need to know.
Step 2: Focus — Research them, their companies, and their clients or customers.
Do they work with companies that fit your ideal customer profile? To determine whether or not your customer bases are similar, you can search for relevant keywords about your customers’ cares, concerns, and goals. You can also use tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Alerts.
Create your shortlist and prioritize who you think will make the biggest impact. Remember, less is more; So start by building personas for your influencers, but remember to clarify your value proposition from the influencer’s point of view by answering the following:
- Why should I pay attention?
- Should I prioritize learning more about this, and why? Time is a valuable currency.
- What’s in it for me?
- This is an important question to consider from the influencer’s perspective.
- What’s in it for the people I influence? (i.e., my customers, audience)
- An influencer doesn’t want to be recommending something detrimental to their customers. Who would champion something that they don’t believe in or put their name on something that completely flops?
Step 3: Execute — Engage them and be relevant
The following chart shows how influencer engagement might look. The point is to see it as building a relationship and a conversation over time.
Also, Kevin Cain’s post on Convince&Convert has some great suggestions on how to engage influencers and what to say:
Step 4: Measure your results and make adjustments
Developing an influencer program takes time, but as you measure, you can most definitely make adjustments.
Here are some questions to ask as you measure:
- Can we see the impact our influencer program is having on targets?
- What testing can we do to determine if we’re targeting the right influencers?
- What can we do to improve?
More thoughts on influencer marketing
Many influencers and experts will permit you to post their articles and resources on your website or newsletter.
The “about the author” section will give them more exposure and position you as an expert because their credibility rubs off on you. This means you benefit positively from the halo effect.
As you build your lead generation program, your experts may be interested in codeveloping white papers, special research reports, articles, and even events with you.
Experts and influencers pride themselves on their professional integrity, so they will likely refer business to you and a competitor (assuming you have them) at the same time.
You will still have an edge by investing in the relationship. They are more likely to favor someone who has shown an interest in them and given them value to boot.
Why does this work? In short, it benefits everyone!
Influencer Marketing via video content creation – markempa
A nod to The Digital Age
We see this kind of marketing is done all the time in this digital age; YouTubers collaborating with other YouTubers, social media influencers collaborating with other influencers, and brands collaborating with everyday people who have a following or significant influence.
Now, brand deals get made regularly with social media influencers, and it has changed the game in product marketing.
Why? Because the influencer typically fits the demographic of their ideal customer, or most importantly, their audience does. Their audience trusts this influencer.
But why seek out a trustworthy champion for their products instead of making their ad campaign or marketing themselves?
Because right now, a 22-year-old ranked gamer could be finding themselves receiving free gaming merchandise and brand deals—and their following will be more likely to purchase those products because their favorite streamer uses it.
It saves the marketing team time and money, making it an ever-increasing popular marketing tactic. Influencer marketing works in all areas of marketing, it is alive and well, and it seems it’s here to stay.
Your influencer within a company doesn’t need 500,000 followers on a social media platform. Instead, they need to have a noticeable influence on your target customer demographic and be well-regarded.
You begin by being genuinely interested in their business.
Secondly, experts continually update their knowledge of industry trends, information, key players, tools, and ideas.
Experts need to be “in the know.” Consider this as you engage them. They will continually seek out other relevant resources that could help their clients. If you can be a good resource for their clients, they need you.
Finally, when experts are doing their consulting, writing, and speaking, they are not entirely focused on new business development. The result of this is many experts and influencers go through phases of feast and famine. You and your company could be sales lead referral sources for them as well.
How do other people influence us?
Now I couldn’t finish this dive into human influence without acknowledging biology and psychology.
Psychologically speaking, as humans, we prefer to know in advance if other people have had a good experience before trying something ourselves.
Humans have relied on the transmission of knowledge between ourselves and prior generations to evolve us to where we are today.
Did you know that we even tend to mime those around us unintentionally? That is something called mimesis in biology. We involuntarily mimic gestures, posture, and expressions of those around us when we don’t realize it.
Crazy, huh? Our aptness to imitate has grown as complex and multidimensional as we are.
Clinical Psychologist, Scott R. Garrels, a scholar of Rene Girard’s mimetic theory, reminds us that it is no longer “monkey see, monkey do.” We cannot neglect to acknowledge our humanness and the psycho-social counterparts that make us who we are.
Empathetic marketing will always take our humanness into account, so as marketers, it would be a shame to underestimate the power of influencer marketing strategy.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please drop a comment below or shoot me an email.
You may also like
Influence the Influencers: 5 Tactics to Generate Demand [MarketingSherpa how-to article]
Amplify Your Content Strategy with Influencer Marketing [Via Convince and Convert]
Lead Generation: It’s all about building relationships [More from the blogs]
Inside Sales: Why good call guides are built on storytelling