How does "influencer marketing" work?
Lets understand how "influencer marketing" works in today's internet and social media based world. Even with the explosion of the internet, reaching potential customers is still a minefield. With a sea of information and advertisements, most consumers find it easy to simply ignore little pop-ups or targeted advertisements. In this climate, influencers can be a great way to reach potential consumers online. The strategy of using blogs and social-media profiles for brand promotion is being called as influencer marketing. We are not talking here about creating your own blog - we are talking about finding ways to leverage popular bloggers and opinion makers, to build visibility for yourself and thus generate a lot more leads than you would be able to, by creating and promoting your own blog.
When popular bloggers promote, they can be seen as more trustworthy than traditional advertising. So it can be easier for the audience to avoid the cynicism and skepticism that often arises from direct marketing. The trust factor makes influencer strategy more effective than traditional forms of advertising. Again - just to clarify - we are not talking about you placing an ad in the blogs of popular bloggers. We are talking about finding ways to get popular bloggers to speak about you and your work, in their posts. You are essentially leveraging their credibility - which is obviously far more powerful than placing advertisements.
What are other advantages of using this kind of marketing strategy?
Social media users tend to be more savvy and affluent and so attracting their attention is easier to do with influencer marketing than paid advertisements
Influencer campaigns can be a useful tool to create word-of-mouth marketing and a viral effect. A study by Kinsey found that word-of-mouth marketing has a higher retention rate than traditional marketing.
It is very cost-effective as the initial investment can be small. As a result, influencer marketing gives opportunities to make mistakes, try different influencers, learn and refine the strategy.
Influencer campaigns make it easier to do targeted advertising. If you are looking to attract customers of a certain age group or income bracket or profession, then tying up with an influencer who has followers in that domain space is a good way to attract their attention.
Finding the right influencers
So how does one go about employing influencer marketing? At the heart of this strategy is the influencer and so the most crucial step is to get the right influencer. Research thoroughly to identify influencers by combing through through blogs, twitter, facebook, domain-specific forums, linkedln and other social media spaces.
To identify influential influencers, look at the number of followers and readers the influencers have in order to estimate the audience reach. Does the influencer post at regular intervals? Inspect the strength of the relationship they have with their followers. How do the followers react to the posts of the influencers? Is there active interaction with the followers and is the influencer respected for his/her opinion?
It is important to find an influencer that fits with your domain. For financial advisors, the most obvious domain will be the arena of personal finance. There are a number of independent bloggers in this space, and there are also a growing number of advisors who are active bloggers. Identify to start with, 5 independent bloggers who you think you want to work with - who have a wide following and good credibility.
How do you actually leverage these influencers?
Trying to pay for inserting posts about your proposition is unlikely to work with bloggers who have gained some credibility. The key then is to find ways of building a relationship with these influencers, and providing them with useful insights that they can leverage in their posts.
Lets say you've created a retirement income solution that you think beats popular solutions being sold in the market. Share this with the blogger and encourage him/her to write a piece about the need to get smarter with retirement income plans. It adds value to the influencer, it adds value to readers - and you get credit as the influencer will be talking about your solution and sharing your workings on why it's a smarter option. You should agree with the influencer that your contact details will be shared in the post, to enable readers who are interested, to get in touch with you.
Likewise, let's say you have done some work on identifying tactical buy and sell times during periods of extreme valuations - which you anyway use in your advice to your clients. You can write about it in your blog. Additionally, you can contact one of these influencers, share your research findings, and have them write about their impressions on your work, with due credit to you and your work. If the influencer believes your ideas have merit, there is merit for the influencer as well as his readers in understanding more about your work. You get a whole lot more visibility being a useful contributor to an influencer's blog than you would by only creating your own blog.
Go beyond the world of personal finance
Think beyond the world of personal finance to expand your set of influencers. Lets say you have conducted a very impactful education session for women investors, highlighting the need for them to take charge of their personal finances, and sharing useful practical tips on how they can get started. Yes you will create a blog post about it and let your clients and prospects know. But, think beyond blogging. Identify influencers whose blogs are followed by women - could be on aspects that are nothing to do with money - like fashion, home décor, cooking etc. Get in touch with them, impress upon them the need to spread awareness among women about getting smart with managing money, and encourage them to write about it, with reference to the kind of inputs you provide in your education sessions. Ensure that they share your contact details in that post - and you will see that the leads this exercise generates for you will far exceed what you have been generating through your own blog.
Whenever you conduct any initiatives for any specific group - doctors, lawyers, retired individuals, young parents - any homogeneous group - think immediately about how you can leverage an influencer of that group to reach out via their blogs to many more of the same group. And, if you haven't conducted initiatives that are sharply focused on any group - well, its time you get started. Execute a great initiative with clients and prospects you know and then use the power of influencer marketing to help create a multiplier effect of leads for your business.
All content in Marketing Wiz is created by Wealth Forum and should not be construed as views of Kotak MF.
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