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3 Strategies for Kick-Starting Your Influencer Outreach

Feb 6, 2013

The toughest thing for many marketers, myself included, is reaching out to influencers. Two reasons it can be difficult: 

  • fear of rejection and 
  • not knowing what to do. 

The good news is there are remedies! Let’s focus on the second point.

I’ve often been asked about the best strategies for engaging with influencers, in particular reaching out to influencers for the first time. Since influencers are people and people are unique and special snowflakes, you’ll need different strategies depending on your goal. Fortunately, there are a few overarching approaches to influencer outreach you can use.

Assuming you’ve already mapped out your objectives and identified influencers for your specific project. You’re looking at a list of people, reading through their content and learning about what makes them tick. Here are three possible strategies (there are more):

Tailored 1-to-1

Typical Use Cases:

  • Building relationships with influencers
  • Becoming part of the online conversation
  • Launching a new B2B product

Use the Tailored 1-to-1 strategy when you want to create long-term relationships with specific individuals who matter to your business. Start by studying their content to figure out their views and understand how they communicate with the community. You can’t possible read everything, but you can use filters to help you focus on the most relevant content.

Everybody has preferred communication channels and different ways of interacting depending on the platform. By checking out your influencers’ online profiles, you’ll be able to quickly find opportunities for engagement.

There are a lot of ways to ignite a conversation with an influencer. I like to start by acknowledging that we are both interested in the same topics and suggest chatting about what we are doing and what the influencer is working on. Most people recognize the value of intentional serendipity and discovery.

Divide & Conquer

Typical Use Cases:

  • Executive <> influencer matching
  • Creating online or offline event content
  • Building an expert network

The Divide & Conquer strategy is fantastic if you work with others or want to involve members of your leadership teams. This approach is much like the Tailored 1-to-1 strategy except you share the outreach activities with others.

You can split up your influencers by subject matter expertise, level, geography, celebrity factor or evenly, depending on what you are trying to do.

You will still want to understand your influencers well and reach out with tailored messages, but you’ll be orchestrating a multi-pronged effort with other members of your team.

I’ve seen this approach used well when looking for experts to speak at a conference or when you want to build an influencer program and invite individuals to participate in it.

Hub & Cloud

Typical Use Cases:

  • Inviting influencers to special events
  • Distributing a relevant special offer
  • Making a company announcement

If you need to cast a larger net, the Hub & Cloud strategy could be for you. Instead of focusing on unique messaging for each individual influencer, you identify your top priority people for high-touch outreach — this is your Hub. Then you craft a general message to the rest of your potential influencers that you can share without personalization — this is your Cloud.

The Hub & Cloud strategy is an excellent way you to reach many influencers in a shorter period of time. I’ve seen this work well with B2C product launches and when your company has a compelling offer to share. If you are pitching something relevant, it could be ok to send a mass email.

Remember: there is not ONE good way to start connecting with your influencers. There are tons of approaches available to you. Don’t get hung up on finding the perfect moment to start reaching out to influencers because there are many perfect moments to engage — you just need to be clued in to the right people!

How do you structure your influencer outreach? What strategies have worked well for you? Please share in the comments.