What is influencer marketing and how can supply chain companies use it to win over customers?
All eyes were on Peyton Manning following the Denver Broncos’ win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Would he use this weighty moment to announce his much-anticipated retirement? The nation was a captive audience when a reporter asked him about plans for his future.
“I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight, Tracy. I promise you that,” replied Manning. He again mentioned the beer brand by name moments later on the winner’s podium.
Budweiser was quick to assure the Twittersphere that the company had not paid Manning for his endorsement but were “delighted” that he had. I’m sure that was an understatement, given Manning’s two (free) casual mentions were valued at about $13.9 million. The now-retired quarterback just likes a good Bud Light — and that’s very good for the Budweiser brand.
This moment illustrates the power of influencer marketing. When celebrities or other popular figures become brand advocates, customers quickly follow. The potential bottom-line impact has both B2C and B2B companies thinking through how they can leverage influencer marketing in their promotional efforts. In fact, it was identified as one of the next big trends in content marketing for 2017.
What is influencer marketing?
Forbes describes influencer marketing as “a non-promotional approach to marketing in which brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders, as opposed to direct target market touchpoints.” Basically, highly visible people become brand advocates by employing your products or services in their everyday lives. There are two types: earned and paid.
Earned influencers, like Manning to Budweiser, use a company’s product regularly because they like it. The most obvious examples come from the sports and entertainment sector: Marshawn Lynch and Skittles; country duo Florida Georgia Line and Fireball Whiskey; Oprah and everything on her annual Favorite Things list.
Paid influencers receive compensation for using certain brands. Popular bloggers and social media users, specifically those targeting the growing millennial and mom demographics, are the most prevalent example. In fact, a number of sites — like BrandBacker and Tapinfluence — now exist to help connect brands with social influencers.
How supply chain marketers can leverage influencer marketing
Peer recommendations are increasingly important to the B2B buyers’ purchase process. In fact, nearly half listed their peers and colleagues as a top source of information when evaluating vendors, according to Demand Gen’s most recent B2B buyers survey. This sets the stage for organizations to leverage influencer marketing as a strategic tool to gain new business.
While celebrity endorsements probably aren’t feasible for the supply chain, that doesn’t mean influencer marketing is out of the question. In fact, your company likely has a number of natural brand advocates at your fingertips. Here are a few examples.
1) Your social media followers
Social media has played a prominent role in the rise of influencer marketing because it “enables peer recommendations to play a much greater role in purchasing decisions,” according to Forbes contributor Kyle Wong. So your company’s social platforms are a natural place to begin any influencer marketing campaign. As a start, check your Twitter Analytics dashboard to see who your top follower is this month.
2) Your customers
Happy customers are your best influencers. When customers discuss their experiences with brands on social media, as is the norm these days, their entire networks see this interaction. And review sites are becoming an increasingly popular research tool for B2B buyers. Offering superior service to your customers can prompt them to praise your company on these platforms — not to mention, recommend your business to their peers and colleagues offline.
3) Industry experts and analysts
Who do your buyers turn to for information and opinions about what is happening in the current marketplace? More than this, who are up-and-coming thought leaders in the space?
4) Journalists and bloggers
Having an industry publication drop your company’s name is any marketer’s dream. Engaging in thoughtful discussion with the writers and editors behind that media — either online or at industry events — can be the beginning of a professional relationship that leads to brand advocacy.
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