How to Build Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

It’s easy to pick them out. They’re the ones who attract a crowd. When they talk, others listen. They’re known as “trendsetters,” “luminaries” or “influencers.” But whatever you call them, smart business owners have learned how to use this select group to spread the word about their small business. Here are some tips for making these individuals an important part of your marketing strategy.

Where Do You Find Influencers?

The key is to identify the person who influences others in your marketplace. Find individuals that people look to as their go-to source of information. For example, the owner of a catering business might want to connect with a blogger who writes about planning a wedding.

Start by identifying three to five individuals from sources like this:

  • Get social – Look for influencers in social media sites like LinkedIn. Search for interest groups that are related to your business. Pay attention to who posts articles or responds to others’ posts. Pose your own question and see who responds. You can begin to see a pattern of who is seen as an authority.
  • Ask customers – Ask customers how they found out about you. Or find out whom they turn to if they have a question. It can often be a clue to find influencers. Extend the inquiry to your suppliers as well. They might be able to provide an introduction to these potential contacts.
  • Look at speakers bureaus – Take a look at who’s on the list of a local speakers bureau. These are individuals who offer to speak on a variety of topics. They’re popular with local civic groups who use them as part of their monthly programs. Those in demand are often seen as authorities in their field.

How Do You Build a Relationship with Influencers?

Now that you’ve identified potential influencers, how do you go about developing a relationship with them? It’s important to manage your own expectations first. You’ll likely see results over time, so think of this as a longer-term strategy, not a quick win.

Here are some tips when starting out:

  • Set expectations – Be specific about what you are looking for. For example, you might want ideas about expanding your business or encouraging repeat sales. That helps the influencer know how to assist you.
  • Offer value – Some of the best relationships are reciprocal where each party provides something of value to the other. For example, agree that each of you will bring two new introductions or a helpful piece of information every time you meet with each other.
  • Stay visible – Touch bases periodically. Put them on the list for your monthly newsletter. Send greeting cards for odd holidays (January 24 is Peanut Butter Day). It keeps you top of mind and can remind them to contact you with helpful information.

Influencers can be an effective part of your overall marketing efforts. They have the ear of others in your market. By connecting with them, you can tap into a resource that can help you grow your business.

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