Don't purchase influencers, create them
Influencer Marketing. Despite all outward appearances, working with influencers is not just about high-fashion photos and shameless plug-ins in videos.
It's one of the most effective marketing tactics out there, and it's only growing.
Plus, it can be very easy, especially if you do your homework first (but we'll get into that later). All you have to do is find the right person, get them the right resources, and you just sit back and watch the money come in.
However, we know this is easier said than done, especially at a time when it seems like everyone is an influencer, but no one is right for your business or product.
In fact, over 60% of marketers agree that finding the right influencers for a campaign is difficult.
This need not be.
We've already talked about why building strategic partnerships with certain influencers can be of great benefit to both them and you. Often times, if you find the right person, you won't have to pay as much, and you'll both benefit from bringing your audiences together.
The best way to effectively run an influencer campaign is to pay high dollar prices to someone with a million followers.
It's about creating the influencers yourself.
This is something that Erin MacPherson, General Manager of The Scalable Agency, talked about in her recent DigitalMarketer workshop. As a content marketing professional, Erin has helped brands grow their sales and generate traffic using the exact same method.
And you'll be amazed at how well it can work for you.
How to find and create the right influencers for your business
Finding the right prospects to become an influencer is easier than it sounds like because there is more to you than you might think and easy to get in touch with.
That's because the best influencers are your customers.
If you're in the market for an influencer, your business has likely had considerable success. Brand new companies typically don't have the capital to hire influencers because they are too expensive. And if your company had a fair chance of success, you should already have an integrated customer network. This integrated network gives you plenty of options to choose from.
The first step in the process is to find the right candidates for the job. You can search your email list, Facebook groups, and customer records to find someone who works. And if you've ever got a customer to write a great testimonial for your business, this could get them to the top of your list right away. But what actually makes a qualified candidate an influencer?
Your Customer avatar will always be the best and most effective candidate. When you find the person you want to use as an influencer for your business, they need to be the type of person who is most likely to buy from you. That way, people who see someone like her using and enjoying your products want to get involved. Depending on what your company is, this avatar can look very different from that of any other company.
Fortunately, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your customer avatar is. You already have many of them on your email list.
Now that you've figured out who it will be, you need to figure out what to do. This can be anything from Instagram videos to blog posts. The more creative and visually appealing, the better. It should also align with your specific campaign goals, be it just to raise awareness or to sell a specific product.
This is possibly the most critical fact to remember when using this approach. Organization is key when trying to create your own in-house influencer campaign for the exact same reason that they're tempting in the first place: the people you use aren't professionals. Also, to take full advantage of a really happy customer as a brand spokesperson, you need to remember that it is not practiced like people who charge a lot of money to post about your product on Instagram.
For the sake of everyone's understanding (and common sense), it is best to make your marketing campaign plan detailed and specific. This way you know exactly what role your community members should play as influencers.
Don't worry – if you keep calling the same people to help you, they will become more and more familiar with the process. Nobody is excellent at something when they do it for the first time. For this reason, it is best to always involve the best, even if you want to swap about influencers from time to time. Not only will you improve, but people will start developing relationships with them (and your brand).
Once you know what your influencers should do for the campaign, all that's left to do is reach out to them. If they're already an established customer – and if you send them free articles – they'll probably be happy to hear from you.
Then all you have to do is explain the situation and get to the same page. If you offer them something up front, they'll likely be happy to help you promote it. Then you will make your first deal with them and they will be so happy that they may do it for free.
Just like that, your base influencer campaign is underway. You outline the content and let your influencers execute the plan. As your platform grows, so do your profits.
Why creating influencers is effective
I can already hear the follow-up questions …
Create influencers? Isn't that the whole purpose of influencer marketing so you don't have to work? People spend years building their personal brands. Won't that take a lot of time and effort?
And these are all perfectly valid. However, if you go a little deeper, you will find that there is a reason why top brands like Wal-Mart, Lysol, and Facebook used the same strategy.
The fact is that creating influencers takes more time and effort. But the possible payoff from this is firmly. Here's why …
You don't have to pay that much to start with. The people you recruit for this form of influencer marketing are ordinary people and have probably never been an influencer for anything before. Many of them may do this for free, but giving them free products may be enough to get them to participate.
And if after a while you really want to make the working relationship more official, you can always get a bigger deal. But chances are, you're still not paying them anywhere near what you would pay for a "normal" influencer.
The trick with "creating" influencers is that you don't have to talk about your product just once or twice in a post.
You use their testimonials in commercials, you make social videos with them in it, you make them blog, and any other type of content you can think of. You can control how and what they say about your brand on each platform.
Once you have the foundation of the internal influencer machine in place, the best part of this strategy can be enjoyed: you can turn it on and keep it running.
This method always remains inexpensive. It doesn't have to negotiate new contracts or find new price points every time you need an influencer. You can just keep calling them to help you.
You control the message; You do most of the work.
The other reason for this is the great PR. And it's great PR in many ways.
It is always a good thing to give your business a face (or faces) as it will make your business more personal and welcoming. So if you don't have a face for your business yet, introducing a face will go a long way toward building better connections with your customers.
Plus, it's a great way to turn customers into influencers to tell a good story. This is why big companies that do television commercials and use real customers make sure you know. When people hear that your business used real customers in your ads, it builds the trust they have in you and your products.
And what's better than that? It's ingenious, cheap, and extremely effective. And on top of that, it's really fun.
Why settle for influencers that are way too expensive and not as effective as they could be? Reach your target audience by turning your best customers into marketing engines.