We know that customers value the opinion of friends and trusted influencers far more than companies. While small businesses often receive more trust than big, faceless conglomerates, we still have a trust gap. Influencer marketing, marketing to a group of influencers, rather than directly to customers, can help fill that gap. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot. So let’s look at a few ways you can start influencer marketing on a shoestring.
Start At The Beginning
Like all marketing, you need to start your influencer marketing program by understanding your audience.
- Who are they?
- What do they care about?
- How in-demand are they?
To identify the list of influencers to target, look at what and who your customers are sharing on their company and personal social accounts. Then, go to the blogs, websites and other forums where your customers likely get information. Simplify this search with the following five questions:
- Who is writing on topics about problems I solve for customers?
- How often do they write on that topic?
- Are there any subreddits or Quora topics where a common author has provided answers and/or gets a lot of praise for their answer?
- Which bloggers cover the industry and how large is their subscriber base / social followers?
- What resources do my customers re-post or like time and again?
Answer these five questions will help you get started creating a list of influencers to start targeting. Start small and work your way up.
Identify What You Have to Offer
No true influencer will promote your company, product or brand without getting something in return. So what can you offer? Money is the obvious answer, but we’re talking about shoestring budget here. Plus, some influencers will not take money as a matter of principle.
So what else do you have?
One of the most important assets that influencers want is access to your big email database or significant social media community. Influencers work to stay relevant and grow their influence. So if you get creative, you can find that you have a lot more than money to help them grow their influence while promoting your offering.
- Promote their channel of choice (like a blog) to your large email database or social community.
- Share leads from some co-branded event, like a webinar, that you both promote to your respective audiences.
- Create inbound links to their website or blog by writing about them, and referencing their materials in your own blog. This really helps boost their SEO.
- Go to relevant websites like Reddit, Quora or LinkedIn and answer questions that reference them as an expert source.
- Give them exclusive or first access to a cool new product or important company announcement.
Once you know who you are targeting and what you have to offer, you can reach out with a mutually beneficial proposition. Remember, influencers often get a lot of requests to try a product, or promote a brand so make sure your pitch is clear and concise with a clear focus on what’s in it for them.