According to Forbes, influencer marketing looks to eclipse digital marketing as the latest way businesses can garner more customers. “Many businesses have just gotten the hang of digital marketing,” you may say. “Now, I have to switch gears—again?”
No, a business doesn’t need to completely switch gears to adjust to this trend. Especially when one realizes it’s just an old friend in a different suit of clothes.
Influencer Marketing a New Twist on Word-of-Mouth
We’re talking about word-of-mouth advertising. The kind where a happy customer tells a potential customer how good the business’s product are. The kind that causes loyal brand evangelists to tool around town in T-shirts that proclaim “Coke.” As we know, custom printed T-shirts and promotional apparel can make a difference in getting the word out about a business, so what is the difference with influencer marketing?
The only difference is that with influencer marketing, a business needs to concentrate on attracting what marketers call “influencers.” People who are changemakers. People who are on the cutting edge in their industry. They don’t have to be celebrities, even though some are.
Get the Imprimatur of an Industry Leader
Remember that old ad for E.F. Hutton? The line from an E.F. Hutton customer, sitting on a plane, “Well, my broker’s E.F. Hutton. And E.F. Hutton says…” Everyone cranes their necks to hear from him—because–when E.F. Hutton talks, everybody listens.
It’s like that with influencers. Look for those kinds of people to become a product’s evangelists, and the world will listen. At least the corner of the world in that niche.
An expert dog trainer, for instance, whose protégé has taken dogs destined for the killer’s needle and made Schutzhund or agility champions out of them will have great sway in the minds of canine sport fans—if the mentor endorses the lesser-known trainer publicly. One doesn’t have to be Cesar Millan to have people in the Schutzhund or agility niches notice greatness.
Nike has gotten that message since they went viral with Michael Jordan’s wildly successful Air Jordan line. They’re still getting it with soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. To the tune of a cool $500 million.
Get That Industry Leader to Notice Your Work
A business doesn’t have to be a huge company like Nike to take advantage of influencers in its niche. A restaurant, for instance, that has a specialty that they do extraordinarily well will get tons of traction from the say-so of a local food critic.
People whose life trajectories have been transformed by a product, too, are superb influencers. Their passion—and the obvious change that the product has wrought—can go far to promote the business who makes the product. When they—for free—get on social media and tell all their friends who need the same kind of transformation, who wouldn’t climb on to that bandwagon?
Seek out Influencers and Partner for Profit
It goes without saying, then, that a business needs to seek out those that can be influencers for its flagship products. A music studio’s prize pupil who wins a scholarship to Juillard—that’s an influencer. A local dress shop whose prom gown the local prom queen sported in all her glory.
The town’s sports hero who eats three of a restaurant’s hamburgers before he competes on the field.
All these people can be a brand’s influencers. All the business needs to do is to leverage their clout—online, in promotional gear, and in the buzz around town.