Influencers: How They Improve Your Marketing Results

InfluencersAre influencers part of your marketing mix?

Influencers are marketing gold.

And their input matters.


They sway your buyer’s purchase choice.

Because the purchaser needs their consent, wants them to use the product, and/or hopes to appeal or appease someone (like their child or boss).

Since influencers come in a variety of forms and levels of sway on buying decisions, let’s look at:

  • Current marketing theories regarding influencers and purchase,
  • Influencer marketing definitions, and
  • 10 easy-to-follow steps to create your influencer marketing


Influencer Theories

“The Law of the Few”

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell’s defines 3 types of influencers.

  • Connectors. Know lots of people across a variety of different interests.
    They continually stay in touch and bring people together.
  • Mavens. Solve problems and distribute the answers, often broadly.
    Also, they communicate information so that it’s easy to understand and share.
  • Persuaders. Convince others to agree with their point of view.


1,000 True Fans

According to Kevin Kelly,

  • “A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce.”
  • “Second, you must have a direct relationship with your fans. That is, they must pay you directly.”
  • Direct fans are best. The number of True Fans needed to make a living indirectly inflates fast, but not infinitely.”
  • Lastly, the actual number [of fans] may vary depending on the media.”

With the Internet, a creator can develop direct relationships with their audience via social media and other forms of communication and community. As a result, buyers become fans and creators keep all or at least a larger share of the revenues.


100 True Fans

On Anderrssen Horowitz’s a16z blog Li Jin shows how Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 true fans, can be reduced further to 100 fans. In essence, this model focuses on your top 10% or your super fans.

To accomplish this, the 100 True Fans model requires creators to distinguish between various sub-segments based on affinity and willingness to pay. 

To do this:

  • Develop a large audience by giving away free value, often in the form of content.
  • Convert portion of followers into paying relationship.
  • Develop highly targeted and exclusive offers and access for the top segment segment of paying group.

Fans as influencers

Jin proposes going niche and tapping into users’ desire for results. To do, this follow these 4 steps:

  1. Create exclusive, differentiated content and access to a community of like-minded individuals. Key fact: It can’t have close substitutes!
  2. Deliver tangible value and results to high paying fans.
  3. Create accountability since super fans feels compelled to follow through since they paid.
  4. Receive access, recognition and status based on fandom.


Word of Mouth Drives Influence

In his book, Contagious, Jonah Berger outlines a model for how to drive word of mouth to influence others. Berger reduces these factors to 6 key drivers of word of mouth (or STEPPS):

  • Social Currency
  • Triggers
  • Emotion
  • Public
  • Practical Value
  • Stories

Jonah Berger - Contagious- Book Interview


Influencer Definitions

Influencer Defined:

An influencer is an individual who can persuade and sway others in their buying decisions. This extends to their use of content (including ideas and data), products and/or services. 

Others trust this person because he or she has area-specific knowledge, input or control over product purchase or use, and/or relevant past experience. Beyond friends and family, this influence applies to academics, journalists and industry specialists

In terms of  social media use, influence refers to individuals with large followings. This often involves showing social proof in terms of the number of followers and the strength of their relationship. Also, they build and maintain these relationships with consistent content creation and distribution.

Also, an influencer may be a celebrity, politician and/or other well known person who has a loyal following built offline. As a result, they have high visibility and are trusted by their audience


Influencer Marketing Defined:

Influencer marketing applies the power of an influencer to marketing. You tap into the person’s specific knowledge, trust and authenticity.

The key to influencer marketing success relies on how:

  • Strong the influencer’s relationship with their audience is and
  • Well aligned the influencer’s interests are with your offering.

Instead of using a advertising and a media platform to distribute your content and point of view, you borrow an influencer’s audience

Like advertising,  influencer marketing involves compensating the influencer. Marketers either pay the influencer directly or offer complimentary goods and services.

Where influencer marketing excels over advertising is that the influencer’s audience want their information. As a result, you avoid ad blocking on devices.

BUT, unlike other forms of paid promotion, influencer marketing requires on-going care, engagement and management to accomplish your business and marketing goals.

By contrast, some businesses use micro-influencers or nano-influencers because they have strong relationships with their followers. According March 2016 research by ExpertVoice:

  • Micro-influencers have up to 22.2 times more conversations each week regarding purchase recommendations.
  • 82% of consumers surveyed say they’re highly likely to follow a micro-influencer’s recommendation.
  • 87% of  micro-influceners’ buying recommendations happen face-to-face.

Also, employees may act as influencers or brand evangelists. This usually involves people’s whose jobs involve using social media or employees who feel strongly about their employer. This often happens because you treat them well as an employer.

Lastly, consider the potential of working with your frenemies to build mutually beneficial relationships that expand your business.


How Influencer Marketing Helps Your Brand or Business

Bear in mind:
Influencers exist in the grey area between rabid fans endorsing your brand and paid spokespeople who shill your products. So keep your influencer marketing human to feel real and be effective.

Influencer marketing helps a brand or business to: 

  • Expand reach to become visible or reach new audiences.
  • Increase trustworthiness by associating with someone who already has earned trust from their audience.
  • Show how good the product is  through use, content and/or endorsement.
  • Help create and distribute content marketing. (BTW, I call this Crowd Pleaser content.)
  • Sway audiences and prospects towards purchase, use and retention.


10 Steps To Add Influencers To Your Marketing Mix

Use these 10 steps to get your influencer marketing program on track.

To help you, each step is in the form of a question. So when you finish answering all 10, you’ll have the basis for your influencer marketing strategy.

1. Who is your target audience?

Before you can figure out who influences your key market, understand your target audience.

To this end, create a fully fleshed out marketing persona. This includes developing a social media buyer persona.

Among the questions to answer are:

  • Who contributes to your customer’s buying decision? Consider how and when these people sway your prospect’s decision.
  • What tradeoffs will your buyers and end-users make?
  • Where do they spend their time online and offline? When, where are they physically located, what device are they using, and how do they consume content and communications?


2. Who are the influencers relevant to your target audience?

Based on your marketing persona, find the key influencers in your niche. While you may uncover some influencers during your marketing persona research, still do your homework. Include a mix of connectors, mavens and persuaders for your offering to get the maximum reach.

  • Who are the key authorities in your specific niche? Do your prospects and customers recognize and respect them and their targeted knowledge.
  • Do these influencers differ across different platforms, channels and devices?  
  • Are these influencers representative of your audience? Don’t forget to tap into a representative group to show that you support diversity and inclusivity.


3. What makes the influencer tick?

Do your homework to discover who the influencer is as a person. Research them via social media, search and personal contacts.

Your goal:
Find out more about potential and to build a relationship that goes offline and meets in real life.

  • What topics do they talk about? Also consider who follows them.
  • Do their interests and behaviors align with those of your brand? Engage with them on social media and in real life.


4. What gives the influencer their authority?

Assess the expert’s body of work, community and realm of influence.  Analyze your market and business landscape to see where they fit.

  • Are there specific topics your audience turns to them for answers?
  • What is the size of  their community and/or reach? Is it limited to a specific platform or geography? How doest this relate to your target market?


5. How does the influencer engage with their community?

Consider how you’ll be able to leverage the power of the expert’s following.  This has a direct impact on how you  work together to persuade your target audience about your brand and it trustworthiness.

  • What does the influencer’s newsletters, blog posts and other content focus on? Assess the quality and consistency.
  • What does the influencer say in public? Participate where the influencer engages in public forums.


6. What do you want the influencer to do for your brand?

While this may strike some as an obvious question, it can be a make it or break it for the influencer. At the heart of your request, you must have respect for the influencer.

  • What makes this influencer the ONE person you want to talk about your brand? This means you need to engage with them on their home bases before sending  a request.


7. When do you want the influencer to engage on behalf of your brand?

This relates to your marketing plans including your promotional calendar and editorial calendar.

  • What do you want the influencer to do for your business? Be specific. This includes presentations, blog posts, endorsements, event attendance and/or other needs.
  • Do you expect on-going influencer interactions? Remember influencer relations take time to develop.
  • How does your marketing timing relate to the influencer’s schedule?



8. What motivates them to support your brand and/or offering?

Make the case that associating with your business will help the influencer and their audience and community as well as your business. Think in terms of what you can offer them.

  • What will you do to support the influencer? Share their content on social media, comment on their blog posts, buy their books, etc. Show you care about the expert as a person.
  • How will  helping your firm, brand or product improve the expert’s relationship with their audience? 


9. What’s in it for the influencer?

Influencers work hard to build their following. To do this, they invest time and energy to establish themselves.  So consider the value you bring them.

  • What type of compensation will you offer? This is particularly important if you’re part of a PR agency or employee being compensated to attract the influencer.
  • What type of legal disclaimers will be needed? Since you must be transparent about your influencer relationship and compensation.


10. What are the marketing results from using influencers?

As with any marketing program, set measurable goals and related metrics before  you start. So your influencers can include tailored calls-to-action in their content and other forms of communication. Because without data, you won’t know which influencers are moving your performance needle.

  • What metrics will you use to show measurable influencer results? How do these results translate into financial terms that your CFO needs?


How To Add Influencers To Your Marketing Mix Conclusion

Since influencers sway purchase decisions, adding them to your marketing mix makes sense. 

The key to long-term marketing benefit is:

  • Choosing influencers that have a direct impact on your core customers. Also make sure that they’re diverse and representative of your broader audience.
  • Managing the influencer relationship directly so that you develop personal interactions.
  • Measuring results to show progress towards your business goals.  Plan and discuss these metrics in advance to ensure that you have tracking for them.

While influencer relations can help you achieve your business objectives, understand that you need put yourself in the influencer’s shoes and provide incentives to work with you.

What has your experience been with influencer marketing programs and relations? 

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on   with the title “How to Influence The Influencers”. It was inspired by Paul Roetzer, of PR20/20 and author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint, who asked this question at my 2013 Content Marketing World presentation.

Photo Credit: cc zero

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