Reaching the Right Customers: How You Can Make Influencer Marketing Work for You

Influencer Marketing. It’s one of the hot new buzzwords floating around the advertising industry today, waiting for brands everywhere to glom on to it. Rightfully so, it may seem, because of the brand credibility it creates within the consumer, its scalability and the potential ROI benefits. But what is it really? And is it right for you?

Simply put, influencer marketing is the concept of advertising your products and services to key individuals who have an influence over the things other people buy or use. The goal, ultimately, is to avoid much of the skepticism directed at more traditional marketing methods and reach your target customer indirectly through influential people they trust.

So how does it work?

That depends on the goal of your campaign. Are you trying to generate sales for a new product? Elevate brand awareness? Stimulate trial? Boost foot traffic? Once you have a goal in mind and a plan in place for measuring its success, you can start identifying the brand advocates you will partner with to accomplish that goal. The key here, however, isn’t to just go out and select the top ten Instagram users with the most followers and convince them to promote your product. Chances are these celebrities and influencers don’t quite align with your brand anyway. It’s all about finding the right influencers with the right amount of reach within your target audience segment. Understanding your true audience is key.

Next, start forming organic relationships with your influencers that don’t strictly revolve around endorsements and promotions. Form real relationships. Show them how your brand fits within their lifestyles and why the partnership is a good fit for both parties. Make them feel like they matter–because they do!

Once influencers have been identified and partnerships established, create a secondary marketing campaign for the influencers to use when promoting your product. What do you want them to do with or say about your brand? Create branded content for them to distribute or set up guidelines for them to create their own. Either way, ensure the message is aligned with your overall campaign goals.

Finally, sit back and watch others do your marketing for you. This is perhaps the scariest part for some brands–letting go of the reigns–but the payoff can be monumental. A study conducted by TapInfluence and Nielsen shows that the ROI for influencer marketing can be up to 11x that of a traditional advertising campaign. And unlike ordinary digital advertising campaigns that usually disappear once completed, influencer content lives on forever, continuing to reach late adopters long after the “campaign” has ended.

Moral of the story is that influencer marketing, while admittedly less “controllable” than more traditional forms of marketing, has huge potential to reach consumers you may not otherwise reach. Influencers, by nature, have the ability to sway their followers simply by recommending products and services they use themselves. So next time you’re looking for a way to reach your customers more organically and at scale, consider conducting an influencer marketing campaign. Done correctly, you may just find your small, local brand to be the next big thing.

Sources: AdWeek, Forbes, KissMetrics, Marketing-Schools, TapInfluence