I often ask natural products brands what marketing tactics are currently working for them. I usually phrase it like this, “If you had an extra $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 right now to spend on reaching consumers, how would you use it?” I usually hear one of two answers—social media marketing and working with influencers.
So, what does “working with influencers” mean, what do influencer programs look like, and what outcomes can a brand realistically expect to get? Influencers, specifically consumer influencers, can be anyone who has the potential to influence a target audience. Influencers are often referred to as bloggers; however, there are several other types of influencers. Influencers can be experts (like a nutritionist or a doctor,) authors (like a cookbook author), academics (like a professor,) a YouTuber, an Instagrammer and so on. Most happen to have a blog or some sort of online presence, but being a blogger may not be their primary occupation.
Currently, Green Purse PR is conducting shopper research on a niche natural product within the supplements industry. The client needs to understand its target consumer before launching a new product with its retail partner. The research determined working with influencers who already have a primed audience interested in the supplements category should be one of the main components of their go-to-market strategy. The client is now in the process of working with its retail partner’s marketing team to identify and collaborate with influencers who they know have the ear of that retailer’s shopper base.
How to Get Started With Influencers
Identify the right influencers.
Find out which influencers consumers pay attention to. Brands can ask consumers in a variety of ways; shopper interviews or shop-alongs are ideal, but asking via email campaigns and social media can work too. Retail partner(s) can identify some of their top influencer partners, which may be a good fit since they are likely to already have the intended audience. Once a brand has a list, it can start identifying the best fits for its products. For example, a meat producer should ensure the influencers on the short list eat meat. Ideally, band executives would be able to connect with the preferred influencers in person to establish a relationship.
Work with just one influencer as a test.
Brands should start small and work their way up to more as they see a return on investment (ROI).
Brands can consider reallocating their marketing budget (or just a portion of it) to work with an influencer one month. After the month-long collaboration, a comparison of key metrics (reach, engagement, page visits, sales, etc.) from one month to the next can show if the influencer increased the reach to more than the brand would have achieved on its own, spending the same amount. Depending on how the test goes, the brand may determine it wants to work with one new influencer every month, or it may make the most impact for only during key selling seasons or holidays. What Influencer Programs Look Like
Green Purse PR is working with a lifestyle blogger who focuses on the mom/parenting and real food communities. She is developing content (a specific number of meal ideas, expert tips and food photography) for a client’s website. The content she helps create is meant to become a “lead magnet” where website visitors will need to opt-in with an email address r to access the content. Once published, the influencer partner will be responsible for helping the brand promote the content on her website, blog and social media for a limited amount of time. When looking to determine an appropriate fee, Green Purse PR considers the number of deliverables, time it will likely take to complete each deliverable, and the number of people the expert can reach on her own platforms.
What to Expect From Working With Influencers
As a result of partnering with influencers, brands can expect to reach and engage with a new group of consumers. Most brands want to attract more than just one type of consumer “tribes.”. For example, a meat brand wants to connect with the following types of consumer communities: paleo, new parents, halal and grill masters, among several others. Every influencer it partners with can help it create stronger connections with these types of groups they might not have been able to access otherwise.
Whether a brand decides to work with just a few influencers at various time throughout the year, or it’s working with several a month, it should ensure it’s letting its influencer partner do what she does best. Brands should have an idea of what they want the influencer to provide, but they can also ask them to propose deliverables that they enjoy, are best at and, most importantly, ones that they know their audience is likely to respond well to.
Looking for insights on social media marketing regulations, effective messaging or audience engagement? Join us for the "Marketing Effectively & Legally via Social Media" workshop on Thursday, Nov. 8, at SupplySide West 2018.
Lisa Mabe is CEO of Green Purse PR, a boutique research and public relations (PR) consultancy based in Washington. She is an award-winning PR expert with recognized expertise in marketing to women, shopper research and social communications. Mabe has worked with companies such as KeHE Distributors, OBE Organic and Edible Arrangements. Follow her on Twitter at @LisaMabe and her blog, #GetInHerCart.