If you need a plumber, how do you find one? Will you harvest options on Google or do you rather phone a friend? Most likely the latter. The reason is simple – an experienced and trusted opinion is the most valuable. This is no different when it comes to marketing for retailers. Retailers have always understood that there is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth. Now, there is a new word-of-mouth in the form of virtual Influencers. And these powerful online communities are playing a massive role in the success of retail businesses at large.
Bring their people to you
Influencers are like the cool kids working the school corridors: They have the best stuff, and the coolest experiences and people care what they think. Most importantly, you want to be friends with them. Well, your business does at least. In order to do that, you need to be relevant and reliable so they talk positively about you behind your back and entice their Friends to follow you. Influencers form part of a new circle of trust in our permanently connected world. They often boast growing communities who follow them with fervour and genuinely respect their opinion.
Gain trust via association
Their clout lies in how Influencers give your brand the all-powerful thumbs up! Bringing the kind of referral that embodies tried and tested experience, and provides potential customers with a sense of familiarity with your product even if they’ve never used it. You don’t want your new customers just to know about you, you want them to trust you. Influencers can provide that, just by endorsing you.
Trust creates authenticity
Influencer’s social media and blogs are their livelihood. They negotiate a very delicate balance between commerce and authenticity. So if their Followers see them as ‘being bought’ they lose their legitimacy. This means it is very important that the Influencer is perceived to really value the products they’re promoting. But also that the fit between your Brand and theirs, feels authentic.
So, where do you start?
Step 1: Identify which Influencer you want to work with
It’s not simply about the number of Followers they have. Rather it’s about interaction. While some Influencers boast millions of Followers, these may be passive viewers. What you want is an Influencer with selective Followers who interact with their posts and act on what they say. When approaching the right Influencer to promote your business insist on a demographic breakdown and tracking lists. Then think about geography – your new customer needs to be near your store. Also, very carefully consider their image, as it must align with yours. It’s likely their Followers will aspire to the same image and are actually the kind of customers you want to attract.
Step 2: What’s the deal?
Many influencers make this engagement their livelihood. So there is always some sort of quid pro quo when making a deal with them. If you don’t have a marketing budget then think of alternative ways to provide lucrative value. If you’re a restaurant, for example, you might offer your Influencer a dinner for 4 to experience your offering. A B&B could offer a weekend away or a beauty salon might provide treatments for a morning. Also very importantly, think about how this engagement will be valuable for their Followers. Consider including giveaways or informative guidance through an online interview.
Step 3: This is business
Top Influencers run their groups like businesses, and you should approach any agreement in the same way. Make sure they understand exactly what you expect in return for this engagement. For instance, negotiate ‘X’ Instagram and ‘Y’ Facebook posts in exchange for what you are offering. Then make sure they follow through on it.
Step 4: Invest in the opportunity
Don’t assume this type of marketing comes cheap. You should apply a portion of your advertising budget to this and invest in it in the same way you would any other paid promotional activity. Influencer marketing is the new PR and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be a legitimate component of your overall retail marketing budget. “We often have merchants approach us for a quick cash advance in order to fund online marketing campaigns like these. The space moves quickly, and our product is one of the few funding channels that can keep up,” says Ryan Cohen, CMO of Merchant Capital.
Step 5: Build a relationship
If it works, keep the relationship going. But bear in mind that an authentic relationship can always be felt by Followers. So consistent and considered appearance of your establishment on their page provides meaningful brand awareness that can generate traffic for both parties.
JOIN THE ‘NOW’ OF MARKETING FOR RETAILERS
If you consider that 92% of consumers rely on referrals from people they know, you can begin to understand just how powerful a tool this is when it comes to marketing for retailers. So get online, beFriend and Follow, and as soon as you find the right Influencer to bolster your retail business, hit Like and go.