Influencer Marketing (IM) has a new title, but it is an old practice. Seemingly forever college professors have been approached by book publishers in an attempt to influence the textbooks they use. Professional athletes have long been walking billboards for every athletic shoe and apparel manufacturer the world over. Even the Avon representative, to a far lesser extent, is an amalgamation of the forces of IM. All of this begs the question what exactly is IM? It is a marketing strategy where the focus is placed on an individual who has influence over potential buyers, and rather than have a more widespread marketing plan to try to reach all of those buyers, the marketing efforts are focused on the influencer instead. In the very competitive financial industry, many insurance and annuity companies approach brokers, financial consultants and other financial professionals, who presumably have influence over a certain market, to try to get their product placed through that channel. This has been going on for decades, and the classic cutting of deals on the golf course is illustrious of how long IM has been a part of our lives.
IM as a practice is very old indeed. Borne out of the vestiges of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM), it is a much more focused way of managing the marketing of your message. Instead of just hoping the last person liked your product or service well enough to tell everyone they know, the plan is to find those that can regularly promote your product to many people that could buy it. The use of the word vestiges regarding WOMM is no accident. Ostensibly WOMM will always exist, and if you are doing good work, it really cannot be stopped, but the internet has also introduced numerous ways in which IM can be implemented in a very focused way. The internet is never going to relegate WOMM to the dustbin of history, but rather introduce new pathways for IM to capitalize on WOMM, and to uncover new sales channels. Twitter is a good example of how to use IM online. Finding someone with many followers that would be interested in your product, and then working those channels as much as possible, will likely warrant some new business opportunities. influencers are sought out now by everyone looking to expand their market share.
Influencer relationship marketing management studies are positive, but the fact remains this type of marketing is very hard to gauge relative to asking a bunch of questions, so as to establish its efficacy. Having a plan to develop these relationships is a very important step in growing a business, and that is a total given. Trying to figure out where sales are coming from, and from whom the good word is being spread, are variables that perhaps can never be measured, and maybe should not be over-scrutinized. The important factor is to nurture all relationships that can help you grow your business without arbitrarily studying the results of said efforts. It is entirely feasible to start cultivating IM relationships, and to have those start to warrant sales months down the road, and perhaps years. Trying to track this type of progress can take valuable time away from building a healthy IM pipeline.
Time spent on IM development, finding influencers and creating a plan to maintain those relationship is likely smart management of the hours in your day. A famous saying on Wall Street is “stocks are not bought, they are sold.” That rings true on Wall Street, but it can also easily speak to everything item bought and sold in the world. Most items are sold, but we are really not sure when the sale took place, or how it began. Before we buy a car, we have probably been doing armchair analysis for a few years. People can be slightly more methodical buyers than they are given credit for, and often times are not as easily swayed as one might think. For this reason alone, IM will be forever a very important tool to cultivate, and continue focusing on, in perpetuity. There is no need to over-study the results of what should be fundamental to the process of growing a business; IM is very much here to stay.