You can bang on and on about your own products and services, but to what end?
Collectively we’ve become so desensitised to marketing and self-promotion, that claims made by businesses about themselves, often fall on deaf ears.
Despite all this, the power of a recommendation lives on. Ninety-two per cent of consumers trust a recommendation from another person, EVEN when they don’t know them.
Businesses can tap into the recommendation market by getting in front of influential movers and shakers – now referred to collectively as ‘influencers’.
Who/what is an influencer?
An influencer is anyone we look to advice or inspiration – a celebrity, an academic, a model, entrepreneur or even your local barista who gives great recommendations on new places to ‘brunch’.
By getting in front of influencers, you give them a chance to fall in love with your product or service and to share that love with their community of ‘followers’.
Let’s break down how to engage an influencer, step by step:
Research and do the work
First things first, set up a spreadsheet to keep track of relevant bloggers and influencers. Include names, social media accounts and contact details, but also take note of what they’re posting about.
Do they mention a favourite cafe, smoothie or face cream? Keep track of this too because it will come in handy as you try to build a meaningful relationship.
If you need a hand finding the right influencers, give Followerwonk, Buzzsumo or Klout a try.
Celebrate and appreciate what makes them influential
If you want an influencer to get to know your business, why not get to know them first? Recognise what makes them influential and inspirational, and celebrate those qualities by:
- Sharing their content
- Commenting on their posts
- Linking to them on your blog
- Emailing just to say you loved their latest post, video or article
Dale Carnegie, author of bestseller ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, tells us to praise and never flatter. There is a key difference between the two – one is sincere and the other is not.
Sincerity is the most important part of this process. If you can’t find a way to SINCERELY praise an influencer, ask yourself why you want to work with them in the first place – perhaps they’re not right for you.
Make an offer
Now that you’ve developed a relationship, it’s time to move things forward with an offer. Email is generally best for influencers who tend to operate in a social and digital world.
You never want an influencer to read an offer email and wonder what’s in it for them. Lead with what you’re offering, will you pay for their time or provide products or services? Can you connect them to a new audience or provide them with engaging content?
To call on the infinite wisdom of Dale Carnegie once more, everyone prefers to act on their own ideas and be consulted about what they want. With that in mind, be clear on what you want to achieve, but always be willing to collaborate and compromise. Don’t be afraid to let the influencer take the lead, they know what will resonate with their audience so listen to their advice.
If you’re not getting a response it might be time to rethink your strategy. Take a critical look at your email of offer and ask yourself:
- Have I clearly identified the value for the influencer?
- Have I personalised my offer? Is it clear I know them and love what they do?
- Is my offer relevant to their audience and does it align with their values?
If you’ve done everything right, then get a bit creative. If an influencer has mentioned a favourite cafe, arrange a voucher and gift it to them. Think outside the box and use the intel you have painstakingly gathered to get your business noticed.
Don’t have time to build an influencer strategy into your marketing mix? Why don’t you try an online influencer network like Tribe, which was launched by Jules Lund last year, it can help streamline the process particularly if you need quick results.
Want to know more about working with influencers? Check out our guide to building a business with a strong brand.
Originally published April 12 2016 , updated May 3 2017