Are you sufficiently tapping into your influencers? Did you know it’s possible to crowdsource your marketing in order to win sales? Brand influencers are becoming a growing method for getting your brand in front of customers you wouldn't otherwise have access to. We’ll dive deeper into this emerging force in our Digital Summit: Using Amazon and Influencers to Grow Online and On-Shelf Sales. (An on-demand version of the June 14, 2017, summit is available.)
Denise Lambertson, chief connector of LMS—an agency that connects celebrities, influencers and experts with growth-stage and emerging brands—will explore how influencer marketing can serve entrepreneurs in the natural products industry. Here, she gives us a preview of her presentation.
What is influencer marketing and how can it be valuable for brands?
DL: Influencer marketing is a version of word-of-mouth marketing with a stronger level of credibility and a higher level of amplification. The term influencer is a slightly nebulous expression because in today’s marketing landscape it tends to be associated with digital influencers, and that is only one sector of influencers. There are experiential influencers, content creator influencers, author influencers and experts, and so when you connect the right kind of influencer with your product or message, it can be more impactful than traditional advertising because it adds a level of credibility. Data show that consumers trust and make purchasing decisions more based on the recommendation of people than the recommendation of brands or companies, and influencer marketing really hones in on that ethos.
What are you going to discuss in the upcoming digital summit?
Denise Lambertson: I am going to talk about the impact of influencers on startup brands. In particular, I want to discuss the micro-influencer network, which is a community of influencers who are willing to become ambassadors for your business without the traditional monetary transaction. These micro-influencers offer much value for startups and growth-stage businesses for two reasons: One, the authenticity factor. If they’re not getting paid to activate, you know they must love your product, and two, it mitigates financial risk. You can take chances with different categories of influencers and see which resonate and are best for your product or brand, without having to go out-of-pocket.
What constitutes an influencer, and what role do you think they play in a brand’s success?
DL: To a certain extent, everyone is an influencer. If you make a recommendation to a friend, you’re an influencer. If you’re passionate about something you love and want to share it, you’re an influencer. What qualifies somebody to be labeled as an influencer is when that person has the ability to amplify their recommendation, has an element of trust or credibility that backs up why they are recommending it, and a passion for that kind of communication. There isn’t a fine line that distinguishes an influencer; it’s not like you get certified or have to take a special test, nor does an influencer fit into any one description. They can take on many forms depending on the brand, product and target audience. Influencers play a key role in a brand's success as they are essentially the voice of a trusted friend. Their opinions, product choices and advice are highly valued, and the consumer behavior of their fans follows their lead.
Are there specific types of influencer marketing programs that are more effective in capturing the attention of your audience, specifically for emerging brands?
DL: We advocate micro-influencer programming as a first step into influencer marketing. The term "micro-influencer" is vague and it narrows itself on a product by product basis. The heart of what "micro-influencer" means is that you’re not paying cash for somebody to participate in a campaign. It’s a different type of value exchange. Whatever your metric of success is, you can get months of runway with micro-influencers before you have to introduce "super influencers," which is what we call "paid influencers." For startups or emerging brands, we believe that micro-influencer marketing is the best first step because it provides a lot of value, without a lot of the risk.
It appears that LMS works with a lot of natural brands. What do you like about working with these types of entrepreneurs?
DL: I love natural brands because I believe that influencers enjoy sharing products that they’ve discovered and have a passion for products that make peoples’ lives better. A lot of natural brands offer added benefits that excite influencers and consumers, whether it’s ingredient efficacy or functional benefit. They’re doing something different and disruptive. There’s a cultural spotlight on health and wellness now and natural ingredients are a really big part of that movement. The influencers we work with are eager to share these products and educate their followers, their fans and clients about it.
Learn more from Lambertson on how small and mid-size CPG brands can grow their ecommerce sales (and their sales in general) through influencer marketing. Register for an on-demand viewing of the June 14, 2017, summit.