You lead your business, so you have to have at least a high-level working knowledge of the trends and next practices that impact your company.
Chances are, you already get this. But just in case, let me add: no matter how talented your inner circle of C-level advisors is, no matter how much you trust them to do their work at a world-class level… still, you have to have a bit more than faith that they’re on it, don’t you?
Thus this post. With just a few questions and answers, I’m going to walk you through one of the most important next practices in growing your business. Here goes nothin’.
Q1. Next practices? Don’t you mean best practices?
No I do not. This is the age of disruption. By the time your company learns about, studies, and implements today’s best practices, they’re already outdated. If you’re CEO today, chances are you get that (which is why the board brought you in to replace your predecessor, right?). If your company uses the term best in relation to practices, I suggest you do something about that unfortunate jargon-foul right away. Next practices are all innovators like you should care about.
Q2. What is influencer marketing?
The first question you need to ask is, “What is influence?” Influence is not simply activity; it’s not merely making a momentary splash that feels good all around but accomplishes nothing lasting. Inherent to influence is making change:
Influencers change outcomes, or they’re not influential!
That could mean changing minds about a new technology, changing the narrative about your brand – or your employer brand – out there in the marketplace…. There are all sorts of ways your influencers can bring about change for your brand, from sustained surface awareness to a deep and lasting shift in your slice of market share. What you never want from your influencer marketing efforts is activity and vanity metrics without substance tied to it.
Q3. How do influencers influence?
Influencers can influence on behalf of brands in four basic ways:
Most of the influencers you’re going to work with will do one or more of the above for a living. After all, they’ve built themselves a loyal, often even a trusting, following by providing their audiences value – for years, in most cases.
Q4. Should you pay your influencers?
Only if you want influencers who are… you know… influential.
Now, that likely comes across as snarky, but too bad. It’s true. There’s a movement right now in influencer circles that “only suckers influence for free.” (Don’t be surprised if that even becomes a hashtag soon). To spare you the history lesson, let me explain it this way: brands have become abusive about all the favors they’re asking of influencers lately. There are just too many companies reaching out to people with large audiences asking them to work for free. Influencers have gotten fed up, and the backlash has begun. It is now a sign of amateurism for influencers to give it away, and as Jeff Bullas recently put it, it’s “amateur and arrogant” for brand managers to ask them to!
2009 is over, and so to is the day of the blogger with 200 monthly readers who was delighted for a free new phone or a trip to a “VIP influencer gala” in another city.
You pay for TV advertising. You pay your marketing staff. You pay your creative agencies. Pay your influencers.
Q5. I don’t like that last answer. Can we get influence for free?
Top-tier influencers have very large, loyal audiences. They aren’t free.
Third-tier influencers have tiny, less-loyal audiences. They’re often free, but they aren’t influential. And just as soon as they get established, you’ll lose them.
You decide which you’d prefer.
Q6. How do we select the right influencers for our brand and goals?
Now you’re talkin’! That is the type of question you need to ask again and again as your influencer needs develop and transform over time.
My most valuable advice on this? Instead of going for pure numbers, go for market relevance. For instance, if you’re trying to publicize a new rap album (do they still call it “rap?” …or “albums?”), I’m not your guy, and neither are my friends. OPENfor.business gives advice and connection to the large enterprise C-suite, after all.
But if you’re selling enterprise IT hardware, software, or services? If you’re a global consultancy, or a luxury brand, or a well-funded fintech startup? Well then, we should talk.
Q7. Was that just a shameless plug?
Why thank you for noticing! Yes it was.
Let me use the end of this post to announce our new venture, The Extraordinary Influencer Network.* It’s a small group – fewer than 50 active influencers, with a much-longer waitlist. But together we have a vast reach: larger than 5 million members in our collective audience, and growing fast. We aren’t going to look up for air till we pass 20 million.
After all, if you’re trying to change business outcomes for deserving brands, don’t hold back!
- We’re B2B leaders ourselves whose audience is other B2B leaders.
- We don’t influence for free, because we aren’t hacks.
- We only work with brands we can be proud of (sorry Big Tobacco).
- And each of our engagements includes support for a great cause of choice.
- Our first great cause is No Kid Hungry, thanks to uberspokesman and relentless giver, Tim McDonald.
Oh, and the best part? We pass on nearly all the fee from our clients straight to our influencers, so we’ve built a long term-engagement machine. Because if there’s one thing faster than employee turnover, it’s influencer turnover.
If you’re a brand and want to learn more, let us know.
And if you’re an influencer who wants to learn more, let’s talk. Get it started here.
*Catchy name to come… at some point. We’re too busy building to worry about window dressing right now.