Influencer marketing is the new darling of the modern digital marketing world, even though its practice is as old as human language — maybe even older. It has always been about persuading those with influence over others to speak up on our behalf.
The ancient Greek teacher and philosopher Aristotle codified an approach for influencing outcomes via communication more than 2,300 years ago as part of his rhetoric teachings. We now call that method Aristotle’s three proofs:
• Ethos: Is the communicator trustworthy and credible?
• Pathos: Does the communication stimulate emotion?
• Logos: Is the communication logical and supported by evidence?
Keep Aristotle and his teaching in mind as we investigate the best business-to-business (B2B) marketing methods for allowing influencers to influence your prospects.
Stimulating emotions is easy. A picture of a cute puppy in a cage at the dog pound, a child in need or a particularly testy political subject will do the trick. It’s much harder, however, to convince people that you are a trustworthy source of information or to prove your thesis with logic and evidence. An influencer marketing strategy requires you to not only convince the influencer of your intent but also make sure they have enough information and clout to do the same with your target prospects.
Things have changed since Aristotle’s time, but his teachings still apply today. They may apply even more, as we live in a time when it’s easy for disreputable people to fabricate information that stimulates our emotions without providing any factual evidence. This makes savvy consumers and prospects leery of many emails and social media posts unless they are from well-known sources.
Renewed Interest In Influencer Marketing
So, why now? Why is influencer marketing on the rise? What makes influencer marketing so attractive to modern-day marketers? The answer is threefold: volume, ease of implementation and cost of digital media.
Social media and email are low-cost and easy-to-use methods of communication that potentially allow for high volumes of connections. While these methods have value, they are more quantitative than qualitative. This makes digital media a great advertising tool to get your message out quickly and cost-effectively. A successful influencer marketing program, however, needs qualitative results; influencing is more about psychology than technology.
Effective communication is much more than the mere words you say or write. We instinctively know that the more senses you engage in a campaign, the more memorable and influential an experience will be. Certain smells, images, places, descriptions and music trigger long-recessed memories because of your associations with previous experiences. Adding a layer of credibility with the right influencer will only solidify the memory and leave a lasting impression.
Experiential marketing allows you to stimulate the five senses and effectively express a message. Putting your influencers together with your prospects, in an environment that fosters genuine interaction, allows your influencers to influence in a natural, highly personal and qualitative manner.
(Full disclosure: My company offers experiential marketing and events services.)
Influencer Strategies At Trade Shows, Conferences And Seminars
If you already use experiential events as part of your marketing strategy, you can easily tweak them to be influencer-friendly. Here are some ideas and strategies on how to loop in an influencer approach at your next event:
• Invite influencers to attend as guests. Having a party or other type of gathering allows you to invite both influencers (including clients) and prospects. Be sure to find ways for your guests to interact with an influencer. Even the seating arrangements at seminars or demonstrations can enhance the potential for influencing. Try creating seating in a round or horseshoe shape to allow attendees to face each other, and then arrange the seating placement so that influencers and prospects are in positions to facilitate discussions with each other.
• Invite influencers to be panelists. Create methods for having the audience interact with your influencers. All too often, guest speakers leave the stage after they are done, and the audience does not have an opportunity to speak with them. The same goes for company executives, who, in some regards, are perceived to be influencers themselves. One of the main reasons people attend trade shows is to speak with company experts and executives. Do yourself a favor — give the people what they want.
• Invite influencers to participate with your brand. If you currently do not participate in trade shows, conferences or seminars, consider creating a road show or pop-up activation. Invite both influencers and prospects to share their thoughts, test out a product or do anything engaging and on-brand that can be captured on social media by the attendees.
The notion is simple. An influencer has a built-in audience, eager to digest and promote acquired information. The act of endorsement is multiplied exponentially across digital and personal networks, thus maximizing an investment spend that goes beyond quantitative results and continually pays it forward.
Socrates influenced his student Plato, who influenced his student Aristotle, who influenced his student Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great conquered almost the entire known world in his time and has influenced Western and Middle Eastern culture for more than 2,300 years. Now that’s influencer marketing at its best.
This article first appeared in www.forbes.com
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