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There are a million people to market to.

Inside those millions of people are thousands of groups and qualifiers. Breaking them apart into segments gives you the starting point of spending marketing dollars in efficient targeted ways. One group that could be targeted outside of the direct prospect is those people or groups who have an impact on your ideal candidate. We call this marketing to influencers:

Ever try to talk about the same person several times in a sentence
without using the same word, that’s a fun exercise in vocabulary!
That’s why I called the target a target, prospect, and candidate.
You should try it some time for fun!

Anyway, back to the point… the influencer. These people are directly in contact with your ideal customer and they have an impact on their daily lives. As we dive into this article, we are going to look at influencers through the advertisers eye and how targeting those influencers can help you reach your ideal target in a more impactful way.

Influence

I want to start with relaying a concept that is big in U.S. Army advertising, specifically in their grassroots and PR areas.   It’s called targeting the COI or center of influence. In the Army example, these people are guidance counselors, teachers, local business owners, and basically anyone who a young person might look up to or ask for help making decisions about their future. The Army is very interested in these people because they have the ability to recommend career and life paths for students at the opportune moment in that young adults life.

getting customers for lifeI will never forget the day I got my first razor in the mail from Gillette. I was about 15 years old and there in the mail was this brown box with my name on it. I didn’t order anything, so I was excited about what may be in that nice brown box. I opened it to discover a free Gillette razor and a 3-pack of razor blades with a note essentially congratulating me on growing up. I used Gillette razors for the next decade of my life without a single thought that another brand existed. They were right there when I needed a razor, they sent me something free and got me excited about growing up, and they set me on a path to buy their product and built in me brand loyalty that was pretty strong.

But what if I hadn’t gotten a razor from Gillette? (No, Gillette did not sponsor this post, but they are sure getting some great keyword density from me, aren’t they! Ha!) What if I had no idea where to start my search for a razor. What if you owned a razor company and you wanted me to try your razor first, before any other brand. Maybe you don’t have the resources to send a razor to every 15 year old boy. How much would it be worth to you if you could get my dad to recommend your razor to me? This is what marketing to influencers is about. It’s about targeting my dad to reach me. It’s about targeting guidance counselors to get high school students. In most scenarios you will get more brand recognition and loyalty if you get an influencer to recommend your product than you can get if you advertise yourself. Most people trust their friends and loved ones over ads, right?

So, how do you get in front of those influencers? Below are a few tactics to get those influencer on board with your cause and some rules of engagement that you will want to keep in mind as you go down the influencer path.

Referrals

There is no doubt that the people who already use your product are going to brag about it. It shows that they have made a good decision in using your products and they will justify it to others. Call on current customers and ask them to share your product with a friend. After all, influencers are not just adults leading kids. Influencers are friends and family too.

marketing to influencers for referralsThink about the last car you bought. Did you sit at home and think, yep I just bought a nice car, or did you go to your loved ones and show it off? If you’re anything like my family when someone buys a new car that’s a reason to share a meal. Hey guys, let’s cook out and I can show you my new car. Your family wants to see the new car, smell that new car smell, sit inside and push buttons, and kick the tires! This is called referral marketing...but it falls under the influencer marketing umbrella. Your customers influence their friends and family to buy your product because they bought the product.

Special Events

Inviting influencers to a special event is a great way to get them involved with your brand and create excitement. “I just went skydiving with the U.S. Army Parachute Team the Golden Knights!” This type of statement is broadcasted loud and clear from every influence that is afforded this unique opportunity! You can believe that these special COIs who got to jump out of a plane with the parachute team is going to be talking about the Army and the cool things they do for months after an event like this. This can work for you and your business too. People absolutely love feeling like they got to do something special and exclusive. If you invite the influencers of your customers to a special event that only they get access to they will talk about your company without you even asking them. They will march up and down the streets beating their chest saying, “You’ll never guess what I got to do this weekend!” and they will be mentioning your company all throughout the story. (Similar to my Razor story.)

Targeted Advertising

Just like targeting your customers, you can target your influencers too. Maybe your ideal customer is a 24-40 year old who lives in the suburbs. This is a great scenario because your influencer is probably going to look very similar to your customer. The big difference is, your ad is going to call out the referral nature of your promotion over the purchasing aspects. I think about Dish Network and how they offer a $50 statement credit for every friend that I refer. I see banner ads on web-sites linking to referral forms. In this environment, Dish Network is using remarketing lists to target myself and my wife because we visited our account page and paid our bill. After we have paid a bill it is all the more enticing to refer a friend and get that $50 credit on our statement. But it’s easy to forget once the bill is paid and we are moving along with life. So a banner popping up here and there reminding me to tell a friend signals me to remember that bill and that I can save $50.

Product Reviews

marketing to influencers with reviewsHow many times have you purchased from a site and they email you after a purchase to ask you to review the products? I am not going to go on my soapbox about how annoying it gets with these emails after a trip to here and there. One time I received 15 emails asking me to review my hotel, my car service, my meal, and my flights in the middle of my 3 day business trip. OK, I apologize, I got on the soapbox a little… But there is merit in these reviews. Companies want as many reviews as they can get and it makes sense as to why they want them. Last time I bought something online that I had never bought before, I picked the item that had 500 reviews with an average of 4 stars over the product that had 5 stars but only 4 reviews. These reviews are a vital part to influencing buying behavior. The more the better, especially if they are all positive. We will not get into the tactics of the review process and how to not annoy your customers, but follow me on Facebook @browning.roy or on Twitter @browning_roy and watch for my book to be published early next year. There are a bunch of tactics that are covered there to make these things the best they can be without annoying everyone!

Influencer Club

You know how retailers like for you to have their rewards card in your wallet? I wrote an article awhile back on this (you can find it here) but it talks about the increased likelihood of someone shopping at your store over another if you have a rewards card. Makes sense, right? Well, being a member of a club is very similar. If you are a member of a club you talk about your club, and you tell people about your club, and you invite people to join your club. I am a member of Entrepreneur’s Organization and I tell people about it all the time. I am influencing other people to consider this club for themselves. Create a club for your influencers where they can belong and have status. This is done on various levels, but the story below is one of the best that I have experienced recently.

marketing to influencersI took a trip to the Dominican Republic with my business partner and we stay at an all inclusive resort. Only catch was, we were not actually members of this resort we were friends of the member and he shared his access with us. As “Guests” we were only allowed in public areas and were limited on the events that we could do. As a full member you had special perks like a golf cart to use for the whole trip, exclusive clubs for members only, and exclusive drinks at the bars across the resort. Let me tell you, if you are a Jack Daniels drinker, you had better be a member because you WILL NOT have access to Jack Daniels anywhere on that resort without being a member. (Mind you, we are in the middle of the DR and it’s not like you can run down to the local Walmart or liquor store to buy your own!)

Create a club with exclusive benefits for your influencers. Give them a feeling of entitlement because they are frequent shoppers or because they bring you a lot of business through themselves or referrals. Provide value to them and they will keep coming back and will keep bringing people with them.

There are a lot of articles on the internet about influencers and tactics. I’m sure you realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg. But it is a very powerful iceberg that is worth exploring. If you are maximizing your direct marketing and you are maxing out on what you can get by targeting your prospects directly, try reaching out to your influencers. Starting down this new parallel path will give you more depth to your advertising and new strength in referrals.

For more tips and tricks read some of our other articles and feel free to comment below. Let’s talk more about ways that you are reaching influencers so we can help all those people looking for ideas!