Imagine you're Kirk Hammett. You're the lead guitarist for Metallica, a band that has sold well over 100 million albums and almost forty years in still sells out stadiums. You're #11 on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists list. You and David Karon founded  KHDK Electronics, a company that designs and manufactures guitar pedals.

By any definition, you're an influencer. But unlike many "influencers," you're not known simply for being known. You're an Influencer with a capital "I." You actually move needles.

Brands would love to be associated with you; some would pay almost anything to be associated with you.

And yet you -- and iconic guitarists like Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Slash, Paul McCartney, Steve Vai (the list goes on and on) -- are delighted to appear, for free, on the back of the pack of Ernie Ball guitar strings.

Why? The names on the list is almost a who's who of rock and roll. 

"My father was a pioneer," says Sterling Ball, the CEO of family-run Ernie Ball (and son of the company's founder.) "He invented the famous Slinky string recipes and gauges that have been the standard for guitarists worldwide for more than 55 years, and his vision for the iconic illustration and neon packaging has been the cornerstone of our brand ever since. They remain the colors of rock & roll and Ernie would be proud to know that his legacy endures... and that the most influential guitar players in the world continue to play his strings to create their own enduring art."

"Our family of artists are as important as our industry leading innovation," says Brian Ball, President of Ernie Ball (and grandson of the company's founder.) Which sounds a little boilerplate... until you realize it's true.

I've recently started to learn to play guitar. I know very little about guitar and string technology.

But I do know Kirk. I like Kirk.

So what strings do I use? The same ones Kirk uses: Ernie Balls. If they're good enough for Kirk... shoot, they're definitely good enough for me.

That's the real power of an Influencer. When people whose opinion you respect use a product or service not because they are paid to do so but because they made an informed choice -- a choice that actually impacts their art, or their profession, or their passion -- that sends a powerful message.

A message that is better than any advertisement, no matter how slickly produced or highly targeted, because it's genuine.

Want to attract Influencers with a capital "I"? Don't create a satisfactory product or service and then pay a theoretically influential person to rent his or her halo.

Create a product or service that people want to use. Create a product or service people will pay to use -- even people who could find a way to get paid to use an alternative.

Then, they'll talk about your brand in a genuine and authentic way. Then, they'll be happy to be associated with your brand, because the glow of your halo reflects well on them -- just as theirs does on you. 

And then, when people like me try your product because an Influencer is associated, we fall in love with it: Not because the Influencer loves it, but because our experience makes us love it.

I first rode a Trek bike because that's what Lance rode; years later, I still ride Trek bikes. They're great. My first motorcycle was a Kawasaki because that's what Eddie Lawson rode; years later, I still own Kawasakis. They're great. I started playing Ernie Ball strings because that's what Kirk plays; years from now, I'll probably still be playing Ernie Balls. They're great.

That's when genuine Influencer marketing transcends marketing.

The best Influencer marketing isn't really marketing; it's just people telling other people what they like.

Which is the absolute best "marketing" of all.

Published on: Apr 24, 2018
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