How to use influencers to drive your brand

While most think of influencers as celebrities named Kardashian, Jenner or Lebron, open your minds to the possibilities of who can help drive your brand, by creating awareness with influence. 

Who would be able to trigger your consumers to accelerate their path along their purchase journey? I look at wise experts, social icons, trusted peers, brand lovers, and friends as influencers. Each type of influencer plays a role, based on which type of consumer they trigger.

The consumer has changed

Old-school marketing used to yell their messages at every possible consumer using mass media, then move consumers naturally through the brand funnel from awareness to purchase and loyalty. With so few media choices, consumers could not escape the advertising. If consumers did not respond the first time, show it to them again and again. Back in the 1970s, it was all about the interruption of consumers, with brands focused primarily on day-after brand recall. Many times, the more annoying the ad, the better it would work. This media planning is not quite the sophisticated media strategy brands need today.

New-school marketing whispers to the most loyal brand fans, hoping they drive awareness with influence to their friends. The word of a friend will bring more influence to their purchase decision than a random TV ad. As the brand moves to the masses, consumers look for the advice of trusted peers whom they respect to know enough about the latest and greatest of the category. They also look to the brand lovers, giving them evidence the brand does deliver what it promises.

Awareness through influencers

Awareness is a crappy objective, because awareness has no movement. I can buy awareness. As a marketer, my marketing must have some type of action–to get consumers to think, feel or do–differently than before they saw our marketing. I want marketing that has movement and that creates a bond, whether an immediate one or over time.

Sure, influencer marketing does drive awareness, but when done right, it drives awareness with an action. The best influencer marketing has a finger-wagging at the consumer–telling them what to think, feel or do–without the consumer really even knowing. The world is cluttered. There is more marketing crap out there than ever. Doing a TV ad or digital ads just adds more clutter to the crap we sift through on a daily basis. Aligning to an influencer who the consumer is willing to listen to helps break through and accelerate our brand’s potential for success

Consumer adoption curve

One significant distinction is what type of consumers they focus on. I want to introduce the idea of a consumer adoption curve, which leverages four types of consumers:

  • Trend influencers
  • Early adopters
  • Early mass
  • Late mass

I will use this thinking to show how brands can use influencers to trigger each type of consumer, as the brand evolves from the entry-level craft brand all the way to the power player mass brand.

The role of influencers on the consumer adoption curve

The trend influencer consumers always want the leading-edge stuff and are first to try within their social set. They want to stay aware of what the wise experts are saying, whom they trust or rely upon for knowledge. For brands competing in the car, sports, technology, fashion, entertainment, or foodie markets, there are leading expert reviewers or bloggers who have become the voice of the marketplace. Marketers who have a real revolutionary addition to the category should target and brief these wise experts to ensure they fully understand the brand story and point of difference. This information increases their willingness to recommend the new products.

The early adopter consumers rely on their trend influencer friends for the details of new brands. However, they will also look to social icons as a secondary source for validation. These social icons could include movie stars, singers, or famous athletes. If the social icons are using the new product, this assures the early adopter the new brand is about to hit a tipping point. These consumers always want to stay ahead of the curve, so that they will adopt it now.

Early mass consumers look for the advice of trusted peers as influencers, knowing them adds to their credibility. These are the people we go to for advice on a given subject. The early mass also looks to early brand lovers as influencers to provide validation of proven success; This satisfaction level gives them evidence the brand does deliver what it promises. The late mass audience is slow to adopt; they look to friends for recommendations but only when they feel comfortable enough to buy the brand.

Moving consumers along their journey

 

To drive awareness, you need to stand out and be seen in a crowd. Invest in mass media to gain entry into the consumer’s mind using TV, digital, viral video, out of home, or magazine. Where it makes sense, sponsorships and experiential events, and influencers can increase the consumer’s familiarity with the brand.

To move consumers to the consideration stage, use influencers to teach those seeking to learn more. Use public relations to make the brand part of the news, whether through traditional, social, or blogger channels. Engage the online user review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, or category-specific review sites.

For more complex or higher risk purchase decisions, consumers will rely on search for almost everything, even if to just confirm what makes sense. Marketers can use search sites, such as Google, expert review sites, and online content, or long copy print media. The brand website comes into play and should include the right information to close off gaps or doubts, then move consumers towards the purchase decision.

Media options to help trigger purchase, include point-of-sale advertising, with in-store signage, displays and sales materials to prompt consumers at the purchase moment. Remarketing is a great tool to push consumers who might feel stuck at the consideration stage to reconsider and buy.

After the purchase, you must turn usage into a ritual among your most loyal users. Cultivate a collection of brand fans, using VIP programs and experiential events with special deals. Layer in emotional advertising to tighten the bond.

Once you have a strong base, you can mobilize your brand lovers, by intentionally creating shareable experiences, which will trigger brand lovers to share with their network through social media. With the new social media tools, the smartest brands are getting their most engaged consumers to drive awareness.

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand.

  • To start, we will challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy.
  • Then, we take you through our process for defining your brand positioning. We will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see you can differentiate your brand. And, we use examples of brand positioning statements to bring the learning to life.
  • Next, we will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow. Make sure all stakeholders know precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success.
  • Moreover, we will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work.
  • Finally, you will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review.

Above all, over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management.

Build your marketing skills with our post on how to define your Brand Positioning

One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of creating a brand positioning that will set up your brand to win in the marketplace. Read our step-by-step process to learn how to define your brand with a balance of functional benefits and emotional benefits. The ideal brand positioning matches what consumers want with what your brand does best.

Read our story on how to manage your marketing career from ABM to CMO

At every level of your marketing career, you have to adjust to the new role. Brand Managers fail when they keep acting like ABMs and Directors fail when they keep acting like Brand Managers and VPs fail when they don’t know what to do.  In a classic marketing team, the four key roles are Assistant Brand Manager up to Brand Manager then up to Marketing Director and on to the VP/CMO role.

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Graham Robertson

Email: graham@beloved-brands.com

Phone: 416–885–3911

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