by Donna Amos
Word of mouth marketing is still a powerful method for a single reason: it works. Consumers trust the word of other authentic consumers about what they have bought and used or services they have enjoyed. Influencer marketing is based on this fact. And because the average online user suffers through approximately 3,000 brand messages each day, people don’t trust brands. They know brands are out to sell them something.
Influencers are not just celebrities, whom people are trusting less and less. They can be anyone who has earned a certain authority in some area. They are open to trying new things relating to their area of expertise, they share an honest appraisal, and they are motivated to serve the public. Because of this, they have earned the right to be heard and believed.
Why Influencer Marketing?
I remember my father driving into town and doing business on a handshake with people he knew. Because they had an established relationship, he knew he could trust them. He also told me of the businesses in town that could not be trusted, and why. I grew up learning an important lesson: only do business with people you can trust.
Trust is still an important factor in marketing and sales, even more now in the realm of digital marketing. I cannot see and shake hands with the person I’m doing business with; I have to take the word of what is printed on his or her website. So, I really don’t know who I’m doing business with; I and most people don’t like that.
But grasp this important statistic: 70% of millennial consumers are influenced to purchase by recommendations of their peers. Enter Influencer Marketing. An influencer is a person who has worked to gain the trust of a large audience. They are viewed by their followers as a trusted peer, and they have tremendous persuasive power. Their word can be trusted.
Is influencer marketing really a thing? Can this method of marketing really work? Absolutely. Imforza reports that “86% of the most-watched videos on YouTube about beauty were made by influencers, compared to a mere 14% from brands.” This is just in a single industry. Where brands focus on promoting why you need their stuff, even if you don’t, a trusted influencer will allegedly tell you the truth about a product or service and leave the decision-making up to you.
The Best Influencers for Solopreneurs
Now as a solopreneur, it is not likely that you can convince a celebrity influencer or popular author to review and recommend your business; nor could you probably afford their fees. Solopreneurs can still benefit from influencer marketing. But we must choose a level of influencer that will reach our target audience and fit our marketing budget.
For example, you may benefit from a local influencer if your business is primarily targeting a local audience. This could even be a popular TV personality, radio personality, or some such person whom the public trusts. Sometimes, the influencer may have a local TV or radio program of their own where your business could be featured if you meet their standards and criteria.
Some authority figures are on a level where they could reach your target audience, but not be so influential as to demand a national audience and a corresponding astronomical fee. Some authors fit this bill, as would hometown sports heroes or favorite sons. These will also usually have a strong social media following, which is an added benefit if your audience is not limited to a certain locale.
Micro-influencers have a social media following around 10,000, which is large enough to have influence, but small enough to be within a solopreneur’s reach. You can do some research on Instagram and/or YouTube for influencers in your particular niche and quickly locate some on this level.
How to Select and Engage the Right Influencer for Your Solopreneur Business
As you research micro-influencers or local influencers, try to determine if they have supported solopreneurs in the past. Some may have a proclivity for solopreneur businesses and this can help you make a connection. Also, some may be against solopreneurs, and so knowing this and steering clear of them will save you time.
Ask yourself some questions when choosing the right influencer to approach:
- Are their followers the right audience for my business?
- Is there high engagement between the influencer and their followers?
- Does the influencer have enough followers to be worth my efforts (minimum 5,000 and maximum 10,000)?
- What are some other businesses they have endorsed? Do I approve or disapprove?
- Do I find them honorable, trustworthy, and yet informative and entertaining?
- Can I trust them to give an honest appraisal and represent my business well?
Here are some suggested actions to engage with influencers:
- Start by interacting on social media so they can get to know about you. If they are not responsive to comments on their posts, find another influencer who engages better with his or her audience.
- Be genuine with your engagement. Follow them on social media channels, like their posts, and offer intelligent comments. Share their posts, videos, and other content. Look for common ground in their content that you can talk about in your responses.
- Give before you take. Share a popular piece of their content on your own media channels or in an article. Drop them a personal email to let them know and express appreciation for the information in their material. Share genuine appreciation for their work and influence. Good influencers that you want to work with will have worked hard to earn their reputation, and they will appreciate you recognizing that fact.
- After establishing a relationship of mutual respect in this manner, formally approach them and ask about their influencer relationships and how you might apply. Be sure to express respect for their opinion and efforts.
Solopreneurs can profit from a relationship with the right influencer, or influencers. Just be sure to take the appropriate amount of time establishing a relationship of mutual respect before making an offer or request. A minimum of six months of researching and cultivating an influencer should give you an idea if the time is right.
Are you a solopreneur who already benefits from influencer marketing? How did you get started? How did you choose the right influencer for your business? Share your counsel and suggestions in the comments below!