Influencer Marketing is at a unique place in the market. It has established its worth and yet countless brands are not even in the courting phase of their relationship with it.
One thing I learned very quickly upon joining The Shelf was that we, the team, are here to not only share our product with potential clients but to be a resource for a type of marketing that continues to feel “aloof” to many brands and agencies. Our company’s leadership emphasizes the need to truly walk alongside our clients, both helping them to use our resources efficiently, as well as educating them along the way. It’s not just about understanding the product, it’s about having a grasp on the movement it supports.
Why Influencer Marketing Is So Personalized
The thing about Influencer Marketing is this:
You are dealing with influencers who, despite countless attempts by companies around the globe, remain to be people rather than processes. In “traditional” marketing, there is a certain process in place. It’s, in many ways, mastered. If you do A, you will get B. Influencer Marketing is not a process, it’s people. This means it’s personal and, frankly, that’s the reason it works.
Allow me to use a story to illustrate my point.
Every day I stand on a platform waiting for my train to get to work. There are signs on my walk up to the platform, on the platform, and even behind the platform. If I look at the ads, I can see that the various food commercials and clothing lines are focused on getting people to travel to the outlet stores near my home. Standing, waiting for the train, I can see the cover of a large sign that hangs over the highway in the distance. To the left, a local business has flashing nonsense about their breakfast sandwiches.
When I board the train, I'm welcomed with more ads. When I arrive at my stop, the train station and even the roads I walk along are plastered with them. Every company is screaming out the words of Meredith Gray, “Choose me, pick me”. The problem is by the time I walk into work, even before I sit down to start my day, I’ve been overexposed. Somewhere along my trip I stopped even seeing the ads. They’ve become part of the ambiance of my daily trip, much like the squeaking track and snoring man that inevitably finds a seat next to me every morning.
This is why Influencer Marketing is so clutch right now. Influencers are making marketing personal again. We live in an era where “Google it” is an active verb in everyone’s life. We can educate ourselves just fine with smart computers dressed up as phones in our purses and pockets - so the marketing demand of “do this” no longer has the same motivating effect it used to have. Nowadays, people are pulling back the curtain and asking who and how and why. They want to see real people in their lives, or people they could picture in their lives, using the products that brands claim to be helpful, needed, or the best out there.
Influencers, for the most part, stay true to their art. They talk about what’s relevant to them - posting thoughts, pictures, and reviews on how certain products (shirts, shoes, coolers, food) worked for them. Influencers earn their name sake when they keep crafting their art and readers transform to followers. Especially in the blogging world, readers truly begin to feel like they know their influencer. They read every blog and, in many ways, feel like they experience a small part of the influencer’s life. They feel connected and connection matters.
Consumers are smart and sometimes over-educated about products. Like I said, we have the ability to scan the entire world for information on our phones every day, no matter where we are. It’s no longer just about what’s the best out there, it’s about what’s the best for me. Mac vs PC / Nike vs Adidas / Coach vs Kate Spade. It’s about personal identity.
It’s about connection. It’s about feeling like you are part of something. Connection creates a personal experience (a bond), which is what actually motivates a purchase. Consumers don’t want you to tell them who they are, but through an influencer who matters to them, you can remind them who they may want to be.
The painfully annoying banner that invades my iPhone.
These all have their place in the world of marketing (maybe not the banner because it drives me crazy), but you can’t approach an influencer as if they are a billboard and expect it to go well. As I mentioned earlier, influencers are not processes, they are people. And brands seem to forget the reason they’re even approaching influencers in the first place. The personal connection. Sending cold emails to random people and expecting the perfect ROI is unrealistic. Influencers are people, motivating people because it’s personal. Brands need to roll up their sleeves a little and get to know the bloggers they approach.
ROI, of course, is always a focus point in marketing. You need to know that you’re getting the right kind of return. And you can read more about that here.
There is, however, another ROI brands need to focus on:
Relate-ability Of Influencer to the product. Your return (ROI) means very little, and may add up to be very little if you're not honoring the personal connection the influencer has to his/her platform and followers. They write about what matters to them, which is what transforms readers to followers.
A dog leash company needs to target people who actually have dogs to work with.
A t-shirt company probably shouldn’t be sending random emails to a blogger who only writes about high-end shoes.
A children’s apparel company should probably focus on parents writing about children’s items, not single ladies going out on the town.
Influencers influence their target demographic - not every target demographic. Consistency creates loyalty in any relationship and the influencer/follower connection is no different. We’ve seen what happens when bloggers go off script or go “rouge” from who they are. It’s not pretty. You don’t want that anyway. You want influencers who can talk about your product organically and you can target this by finding people who are already talking about things like your product. This is why relate-ability is so key.
Influencer Marketing reminds us that personal connection matters, and in that, brands must revisit their approach to Influencer Marketing as a whole. This is such an untapped way to reach consumers and if done the right way, you will have incredible results.
Find Success With Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing is about people, not processes.
Personal Connection matters, which is why Influencer Marketing works.
ROI 2.0: Relate-ability Of Influencer - your product must be relevant to the influencer or it will not resonate with those they influence.
Now, over to you. Are you doing Influencer Marketing? What is your experience with it so far? Please let me know what you think in the comments!