More than 80% of marketers who have used influencer marketing report it to be effective. Ever wondered why? Really though, what is it about working with influencers that improves marketing effectiveness? It’s simple. Influencers bring us closer to our customers. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, was kind enough to contribute to our latest eBook, An Influencer Marketing Intervention, and his words of wisdom really got our wheels turning about the customer-centric value influencers can offer brands.
But why should you care about customer-centricity? As influencer programs gain broader adoption and scale, many of you may be tempted to treat your influencer programs like other campaign-based marketing tactics. Michael’s words provide a much needed reminder to remain hyper-focused on the customer, not the potential monetary ROI of influencers. Especially if you wish to find success in your influencer marketing.
Our true value as brokers in this relationship economy is building trust and connections where none previously existed. Which we can’t do very well if we’re not in the right frame of mind. As Brenner points out, “The first step to marketing that drives clear business results is to define a customer-focused mission. This is the only way for a brand to earn their target customer’s attention and deliver value ahead of the sale.”
So yes, of course, influencer marketing can offer great financial rewards. In fact, recent studies have shown a 6-to-1 return on investment. Amazing stuff. But without careful planning, influencer programs can certainly also go wrong. As more info becomes available about the scalable financial reward influencer programs offer, it’s essential that we don’t lose sight of influencer marketing’s true purpose.
To help you stay hyper-focused on customer needs, try the following:
Write an Influencer-Driven Mission Statement
More than half of content marketers do not have a documented mission statement guiding their activity. As marketers, it’s natural for us to feel that our mission is to drive leads, clicks, sales, or some other vanity metric. But a true brand mission is driven by a purpose. A relevant purpose lives with the customer.
I know what you’re thinking. Most mission statements end up in the trash, right? Or plastered to a fridge in a break room where no one will read it. True. But, it’s also true that most mission statements are rooted in the brand, not the customer (which is why so many of them are irrelevant). Your influencers are a rock solid bridge to that customer.
Developing an influencer-driven content marketing mission statement will align your brand with your audience. As Brenner points out, “When the content a brand publishes is focused on customer value, then they attract the right people, and achieve brand engagement they would have never have otherwise seen.”
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you develop your marketing mission statement:
- Why does our brand exist?
- What do our target influencers believe?
- What will our marketing do for the customer?
- What will be delivered to the audience, and what is the outcome (for them)?
And if you’re lucky enough to have close ties with influencers, take it one step further by asking them to review the mission statement and give you some pointed feedback.
Develop an Influencer “Topics” Word Cloud
Influencers have their finger on the pulse of your target customers. They create content every day that your customer loves, consumes, re-tweets and reads. So, instead of looking directly to customers for content creation and marketing ideas, start with your influencers.
I know what you’re thinking, “a word cloud? That’s so very 2008.” It’s true. But hey, they work. Collect a dozen or so articles from your target influencers and drop the text into a tag cloud generator. This will give you a good handle on the most popular words and topics among influencers. You’ll be surprised how much closer this can get you to creating customer-centric content.
Perform an Influencer Identification Gut Check
We all have a bias towards a handful of influencers. It can be easy to assume our customers share the same inclination. But have you ever flat-out asked customers who they trust, and why? You should. Performing an influencer identification gut check is a great way to find out whether the influencers you’ve identified are the same ones your customers trust.
If your audience hangs out on Twitter, fire up a poll. If they regularly open your marketing emails, solicit their opinion in that channel. If no one will talk to you, give them something for free. Trust us. Knowing who your audience trusts and why will give you everything you’ll need to improve your influencer marketing. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Who do you follow online?
- Who do you trust when it comes to ____[insert brand topic]___?
- When you need to solve __[insert brand problem]___, who or what helps you figure it out?
With those simple questions answered, you can start building a new list of influencers that your audience truly wants to hear from.
If we expect to get more from our influencer marketing, we must stay hyper-focused on the customer, not the potential ROI. As our industry matures, there will undoubtedly be big wins and epic fails. If you wish to remain on the winning side, remember to remain customer-centric.
For more insights, tactics and tips download An Influencer Marketing Intervention, in which you’ll hear from thought leaders like Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Michael Brenner and more!