Best Influencer Marketing Practices, Tactics and Resources
Blasting ads indiscriminately at audiences works less and less as we move forward in time. This is true for online and offline marketing.
Savvy marketers now realize organic propagation of one's message is much more effective from a monetary and communications POV.
Publishing Web Digest for Marketers since April 1995 has shown me what works and what doesn't work when it comes to influencing the influencers. I share 12 tactics and practices on this art below. Enjoy, and let me know what works for you when it comes to marketing to influencers.
1. Why do you want to influence?
Everyone thinks of a marketing budget as being made up of figures representing monetary commitments. But there's another aspect to 21st century marketing budgets. It's your time budget.
If you decide you and your firm will get into the influencer marketing game, you're going to be doing more than just throwing money at it. You will have to show up in high visibility places. You'll set yourself up as an authority and get quoted.
In short, you'll be doing lots of face-time tasks so you can be seen by other influencers, not the least of which are local, trade, or national and online media.
With so much face-time, you will want to be very prepped and full of interesting factoids, anecdotes, tactics and thoughtful observations. This is all quite a large time and money commitment. Before you get going, you want to ask why exactly you're doing this.
What do you hope to accomplish by raising your profile in your "pond"? What does payback look like? You may not be able to put a monetary amount on all of it, but certain aspects should be accountable.
Are you getting press that leads to interest in services or products that flow naturally from your statements? I see many initial statements where I can't easily connect the dots to what they do and how they earn their money.
I understand people don't want to see you selling from the speaker platform, but a certain amount of context is, I believe, necessary for your audience to understand where you're coming from.
2. What value do you offer to other influencers?
Presumably you want other influencers to be an advocate for you or your brand and company. Why should they? What's in it for them if they recommend you?
I get pitched multiple times a day to give companies a write-up in my Web Digest For Marketers. Too many times they haven't read the newsletter and can't define what value there is for my readers. This is a bad way to start a relationship.
There's a saying among Internet old-timers: "The Internet is a big place. The Internet is a small place." They mean that in one's own community the number of people you really want to know and communicate with is likely smaller than you think.
Identify the opinion leaders and nourish a relationship with them instead of doing a hit-and-run job that can sour the relationship with that valuable gatekeeper person forever.
3. Keep your finger on the pulse.
Pre-Internet, you could learn one or two skill sets and be made for a decade, or even your whole career. Today, you have to be educating yourself constantly.
also believe the velocity of that education curve has quickened dramatically in recent years, and will continue its accelerated pace, and then some.
If your intention is to keep up with - or better yet - stay ahead of other influencers, you will need to put yourself on a regular diet of "new think" information. What newsletters are you reading? What books can you recommend? And by all means, get the heck out of your comfort zone and read things that are far afield of your own little niche.
This was a key practice of quality guru William Deming. This legendary man was too often ignored for decades in the US - but he was venerated by Japanese appliance and automobile manufacturers, who listened to him and then came back to eat our lunch using his quality management practices. Mr. Deming counseled clients to observe things in categories far away from their own niche, and to then be the first one in their industry to implement that best practice.
4. Update your influencer list.
Do you know your top 10, or 1000 or 10,000 influencers? Do they get your email newsletter? Are they subscribed to your blog or RSS feed?
You're not looking to influence a demographic. You're looking to influence very specific people. In some cases you'll give them preferential treatment at your events, on your website or at trade shows.
Some savvy influence marketers have exclusive events for such high-value influencers at key trade shows. Other influence marketers have salons which are events unto themselves.
I've been to salons at some of the finest restaurants around the world. Superb food and drink really do open people up. So much can be done in forging new relationships if you have the right "atmospherics". I've seen people share extraordinary insights because the atmosphere was conducive to sharing.
5. Get seen.
Being on stage with other industry honchos at premier trade shows can elevate your stature. Be sure to have your advance team give a heads up trade press that you're available before or after your presentation for comment or interview.
Make sure your advance team is armed with the key points you're making, or statistics you're presenting. This will give editors and reporters a handle on how they can use you in their column. Simply saying you're available to be interviewed is putting the burden of what to talk about on the editorial person, who typically has too many other things to think about and may even resent you if your pitch isn't focused. I speak from personal experience on this one.
You know, you don't have to be the best public speaker in the world, so long as you deliver high-value content. I've seen rooms of 1,000 people sit in rapt silence listening to a person who spoke English as a third language, because that person really had the goods that the audience wanted to hear.
If you do get really good and your topic has appeal beyond your own industry, you can conceivably have a speaker bureau book you for paid gigs.
Note: Before you approach a speaker bureau, you will need a high quality demo of a speech you've given. Also be prepared to have very specialized marketing materials such as a one-sheet and fee schedule, along with testimonials from organizations that have had you speak.
If you do go the paid speaking route, you'll want to study closely others like yourself and decide why your package is different than anyone else in the field.
I've been speaking on Internet marketing since 1993. There are now zillions of people who speak on Internet marketing. I narrowed my niche by customizing my presentations to the audience I'm addressing.
Being represented by the top speaker bureaus will most definitely build your stature in and outside your immediate industry.
6. Get read.
In the hipster days of Greenwich Village, people would ask of a musician or poet, "Does he/she have something to say?" The same goes for opinion leaders. Do you have something to say?
Is what you have to say an article, a series of articles, a newsletter or book? Some people have an article but think it's worth an ongoing column. Others write guest articles and find out they've got lots more to say.
"Does it have legs?" is what editors might ask. In other words, where does it go from here? What would the 28th column look like? Would it be fresh, or would it be a rehash of old content?
If you really do have an idea or angle with legs, you or your publicist may want to get an ongoing column placed in your respective trade journal. Just be sure you've got clips from columns or articles you've penned previously.
If you're not good at writing, then you may want to use the services of a good ghostwriter. A good ghostwriter doesn't only write well, but also pulls the content out of you, often in an interview format. If you hire a ghost writer, ask for clips and referrals.
A well-crafted letter to the editor (if your target publication has such a feature) is also a good way to initiate a relationship with the editorial powers-that-be.
7. Plan on unanticipated consequences.
I've noticed a pattern in successful Internet marketers. They put a number of things in motion at the same time. It's almost like a horse race. You know there will be a win, place and show, so you look to have a of couple bets on a few different ponies, so that you're a part of whatever does win the race.
My Web Digest For Marketers email newsletter itself was an unanticipated consequence. It was originally meant to feed the consulting side and speaking side of my business. Now, it is the main event.
The point is, plan for a few gambits. Some will fail. Some will work, sort of, and then other unforeseen things will happen as a result of your efforts.
8. Predict the Future.
If you have a certain amount of moxy and intuition about where things are headed in your industry or sector, consider putting out a statement on where you think things are going. People love trends.
Naturally, you have to be right a certain percentage of the time for this gambit to work. Your prediction has to sound savvy and surprising or counterintuitive. Point to stats or trends that back you up and mount a substantial publicity campaign heralding your call on the future.
Note: When I predicted the Internet would be the next big thing in 1993, it was not looking at all obvious to most people. Many argued with me that CD Roms or Time Warner's Full Service network was where interactive marketing was headed.
The trend was towards "fractionalization" of target audiences and content delivery schemes. People back then didn't see the Internet coming because they didn't want to see it. It was to threatening to how they made a living. Of course, in retrospect it all looks obvious and those who fought it then now say they knew it all along. Yeah, right.
9. If you blog it will they come?
This all depends on what is in your blog. If you cover breaking trade news that is available nowhere else or more quickly than anywhere else, then yes, they will come -- provided you promote the daylights out of it. After all, a blog is not like a newspaper that lands on your doorstep every morning.
People must make the effort to visit your blog, so you'd better give them a really good incentive to come back daily or weekly.
How many blogs do you pay attention to on a daily or weekly basis? What is the incentive for you to visit that blog repeatedly? These are the types of hard questions you must answer. Simply writing about the grasshoppers in your backyard isn't going to cut the mustard.
10. Make your website offer high value.
There are always boilerplate reasons why a firm's website is dusty. People say, "The cobbler's kids go without shoes, you know." "I'm just so busy working on my client's site, I can't focus on mine." Just last week, an Internet marketing consultant said, "People who use my services don't visit my website."
This person is fooling himself. No matter what line of business you're in, all sorts of leads and prospects visit your site regularly and make value judgments accordingly.
Many times a day I'm contacted for PR purposes or other reasons and the first thing I or my staff do is go to their site. If the website doesn't match the soaring rhetoric of the press release or personal pitch, then that person is toast. Walk the walk.
11. Avoid me2me marketing.
Marketing to influencers in either the b2b or b2c space is much about asserting your good reputation by setting a good example that is seen in the way you communicate and present your value.
This often means presenting yourself to large groups of people, many of whom are your peers. So you're often marketing to people very similar to yourself.
Yes, you are in your own target group, so you should have considerable insight into what your target audience would find interesting and attractive. But don't confuse that with marketing to yourself, or what I refer to as "vanity marketing", where the real audience is you, and only you. This is not marketing, this is self-indulgence.
I often see showboat marketing, where people are showing off rather than informing or really adding value to a communication, be it one-way or upstream/downstream.
My rule of thumb is to ask myself, "So what's in it for the other guy?" If the answer is "not much", it's best to go back to the drawing board until that question is answered.12. Benchmark against other influencers.
You should have an "Influencer Radar Screen" that you look at regularly. Look at the following: