- When looking for the "right" influencers, find those that have use for your product.
- Excite audiences about your brand by giving them an exclusive look at something you are doing.
- Offer a unique brand experience; find a way to differentiate from similar products.
- Create compelling content.
- Show an influencer how much they matter to your brand by personalizing your pitch to them.
You’ve crafted the million-dollar idea, and coined the catchy name for it. You’ve built a website, and have begun developing your social media profiles. So what’s next in the process? Branding, otherwise known as 2015’s biggest buzzword. For your company to be successful, you have to distinguish yourself from others within your industry; you do this through branding. People don’t buy products; they buy brands. They want the positive experience that they’ve come to expect with your brand, as well as the peace of mind that comes with purchasing from you. People want to show that they are identifying with the group, and do in fact belong. But how do you build up a customer base and develop brand loyalty? One very effective avenue for getting there is blogger outreach.
Think back on the history of advertising; influencers have always existed, from the first time Ronald Reagan appeared in a Chesterfield ad, to Mean Joe Green starring in Coca-Cola commercials. Brands have always understood the power of having someone influential endorse their product. However, as our world has become increasingly connected in the digital age, consumers are overwhelmed with ads and messages from marketers.
The idea of “buy-in” is crucial to blogger outreach, and part of what makes it so successful; readers choose to follow these blogs because they trust and believe what the blogger is presenting. This isn’t an advertisement attempting to dupe them into clicking, or an email listserv they have no interest in being on. This is a site they willingly follow and place credence in; they believe what they are reading, and look to these blogs for their recommendations and guidance.
The key to building brand advocates through blogger outreach: value. For an influencer to want to work with you, or advocate on your behalf, they have to be getting something out of the relationship. Below are five easy ways your brand can provide something of value to influencers.
1. Find influencers that have use for your product
In the elusive branding process, it’s essential to find the right audience out there for you. Find those people who value and enjoy whatever it is you sell. The blogosphere is ever growing, with as many as 152 million blogs currently on the Internet, and 172,800 new ones added every day. There is ample opportunity to find influencers with something to gain from your product. Identify bloggers that fall within your target demographic and who have interests that align with your offering. If you’re selling gumballs, track down bloggers with a penchant for chewing gum.
An easy way to excite audiences about your brand is to give them a firsthand look at something you’re doing. Give top influencers something that others don’t have access to. If you’re trying to break into the gumball market, find influencers in the candy sphere of the web and offer them an exclusive look at the science behind the extra-large bubbles produced with your new, multicolored, 8-flavor assorted gumballs. If an influencer has a vested interest in the vertical your brand works within, they will likely find the products you are selling appealing.
3. Offer a unique brand experience
There are new companies and heightened competition across seemingly every industry today. If you are going to make it in the gumball space, you have to bring something different to the table. Successful brands find a way to make an otherwise stale industry/product unique and exciting. They are able to differentiate from similar products. This can be through things like philanthropy, maniacal customer service, superior product, better shopping experience, or any other way you come up with to set yourself apart. The most successful brands feel as though they have a personality and identity. Zappos is the most loyal person you know; Go Daddy is the shock jock; Pixar is the creative genius; Toms is the philanthropist; Beats by Dre are pro athletes. You don’t want to be a boring brand; ideally, you’re going to invoke some sort of response and elicit emotion from consumers. You want to get noticed, and for people to like you. You want to be the next Netflix, not the next Blockbuster.
4. Create compelling content
There is a reason everyone in this industry says content is king, and great content used correctly can supercharge your blogger outreach. Create content that positions you as the expert, and is appealing to your target demographic. To continue with the gumball example, perhaps create a user-generated piece of content based on feedback from 12 bubblegum-chewing influencers about how big the biggest bubble is that they’ve ever blown, or create a breathtaking infographic detailing your new assortment of flavors. Create information that your target market wants to chew on.
5. Personalize your pitch
Show an influencer how much they matter to your brand by personalizing a pitch specifically geared towards them. If you locate someone who constantly blogs about the different gum they are chewing, a customized pitch will not only pique their interest, but likely engage them. A personal pitch makes an influencer feel chosen and valued.
Bloggers have a dedicated readership who believe and trust what they have to say; earning their endorsement has tremendous value. This recent Nielsen survey found that 84% of people still trust word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends more than anything else, making these recommendations the most valuable of all. Blogger interaction with their readers is the digital representation of this word-of-mouth, and unsurprisingly, 81% of US online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. The actual followers of a blog, compounded with the social followers the blogger has, make up the digital version of “friends and family.” The more trusted and influential a blogger is, the more digital friends and family they are likely to have.
There are varying levels of influencers within each community, or pocket, of the web, but these are some staggering statistics. Further, all of this is measurable; you can determine and quantify a blog’s reach and potential impressions, thus figuring out how valuable a relationship with them might be.
Once you’ve built this first relationship, congratulations, you’ve just developed your first brand advocate! This person is now a walking, talking spokesperson for your brand, endorsing your budding products to all of their readers and followers. Follow some of the tips above, and you’ll have an army of advocates in no time.