Why you should build a relationship with third-party influencers to gain traction within the consumer marketplace.
Every brand, new or established, is looking to gain traction within the consumer marketplace by driving velocity at retail. There are many marketing strategies designed to accomplish this goal; however, one of the most effective strategies is developing relationships with unbiased third-party experts. Depending on the industry in which you compete, these influencers could be nutritionists, dieticians, gadget experts, designers, bloggers, or myriad other category specialists. Each brings a level of expertise and knowledge within your vertical market that can be leveraged via both paid and unpaid partnerships. Below are five reasons brands should consider leveraging third-party influencers:
1. Build Instant Credibility
Every brand, regardless of industry, wants to be perceived as a credible player, and influencers are one of the best ways to build credibility. When an unaffiliated expert speaks positively about your brand, significant credibility is attained that is difficult to achieve in almost any other way. This credibility is important to buyers and retail partners when making decisions about whether to carry your product or service or not.
2. Validate Your Product
When you launch a product or service, one of the keys to success is validating that your offering does what you say it does. It's common for brand managers to speak about features and benefits; however, when a third-party influencer speaks positively about your product or service, it validates it within the consumer marketplace. This endorsement can be utilized in all of your marketing materials, including, POS, packaging, advertising, etc.
3. Access Top-Tier Media
One of the greatest value propositions associated with third-party influencers is their powerful relationships with top-tier media. It is rare for a brand manager to be featured on the Today show, Good Morning America or Fox & Friends. However, each of these programs has "go-to" third-party experts who can provide the latest trends on topics like health, nutrition, kids, style, fashion, consumer technology, etc. Thus, developing relationships with these experts could land your product on some of the most desirable news shows in the country.
4. Achieve Broad Exposure
In addition to top-tier media connections, many third-party experts also have large social media followings. Therefore, when you develop a relationship with these individuals, you can potentially also gain access to the consumers who follow their insights and advice on their blog, Twitter account, or Facebook page. While there is no guarantee of such comprehensive exposure, these communication vehicles should be considered when thinking through opportunities associated with influencers.
5. Leverage Social Media
Third-party influencers can be incredibly effective when utilized within your social media programs as well. For example, doing a Q & A on Twitter with an influencer can help drive consumer engagement online while hosting a Google+ Hangout with an expert and one of your brand spokespersons allows them to better explain the features and benefits of your product to media attendees. As powerful as this can be, keep in mind that utilizing influencers in this capacity typically requires a participation fee.
Developing relationships with third-party influencers takes time and a certain amount of finesse. Many understandably only want to work with brands they like, products they use and appreciate, and services they would be willing to refer to a friend, much less a national audience. Therefore, it's important that any brand looking to take its marketing efforts in this direction do so smartly by first identifying the right people, and then working to fortify the relationship. Once in place, these partnerships can bring your brand a level of exposure and credibility it just can't get on its own.
MICHAEL A. OLGUIN is the president of Formula PR, a national public relations boutique with offices in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego. With over 25 years of experience, he has represented such high-profile brands as Newcastle, Kashi, and ESPN. @FormulaPR