Targeting the Right Group of Influencers at the Expansion Stage

For expansion stage technology companies that operate in very specific, sometimes unique markets, targeting the right group of online influencers is absolutely essential to their overall marketing strategy.

Notice I said the right group of influencers.

For growth stage companies, it’s not about marketing to all possible influencers with the end goal of being the most well-known. It’s about finding the best group of influencers who are a perfect fit for your product and market.

According to Pierre-Loic Assayag, the president of Traackr, an online influence measurement tool, there are three main advantages to targeting a smaller, more appropriate group of influencers. I’ll list Assayag’s advantages below, with my own thoughts on how they apply to expansion stage technology companies.

Relevant influencers create signals, whereas the “big fish” create noise.

Traditional advertising — especially ads showcasing consumer goods — have given marketers the illusion that the more noise they create, the higher the success rate of their program.

With online influencers, however, it’s become extremely important for marketers to attract the select few who have established authority and expertise, allowing them to influence the target audience you’re interested in. Because of the trusted relationship they’ve already developed with your prospects, those influencers — even if there are only a few of them — will be able to persuade that audience.

A targeted group of influencers increases the “engagement hit rate.”

In other words, if you target the right influencers, then you’ll no longer be wasting your time and energy on a large group of people who may or may not be interested in your product or service.

Mack Collier at MarketingProfs addresses this exact issue, suggesting that all too often companies’ influence marketing programs fall flat because they don’t spend enough time making certain that their targeted group of influencers are actually likely to evangelize their brand.

Collier uses a recent Pepsi campaign as an example. The company sent him samples of its new can and branding, with the hope that he would evangelize the change and praise it on his blog. He was one of only 25 people that Pepsi chose, so the company must have thought he was a very unique, very passionate influencer.

Except he wasn’t. Collier is a self-admitted Dr. Pepper fan, not a Pepsi evangelist. So, the company’s effort (at least with that influencer) fell flat. Sure, Collier may be a key influencer for some products, but Pepsi isn’t one of them. With only 25 key influencers targeted, at least one wasn’t going to get too excited about Pepsi’s new can.

Pepsi could have avoided that mistake by ensuring that its targeted list of influencers actually included people who were truly interested in their issues, industry, and product. Because it didn’t, the company’s influencer engagement hit rate suffered.

Even the “big fish” are influenced by targeted voices.

This means that through a targeted group of influencers, you’re likely to influence everyone else who is connected to them. That includes the “big fish,” who keep tabs on the smaller key influencers that tend to be product or industry experts. If you can access those key voices, they’ll be much more likely to take interest in your product and spread it to the masses.

Marketing expert David Meerman Scott uses the example of Cindy Gordon, the vice president of new media and marketing partnerships at the Universal Orlando Resort. Rather than launching a massive, expensive public relations and advertising campaign to drum up interest for the theme park’s new Wizarding World of Harry Potter, she targeted seven key influencers to tell the story for her.

She invited just those seven influencers to the park and filled them in on its plans. Because she had targeted the right influencers, they all went back to their blogs, sang the praises of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to their thousands of followers, and before long, the story was picked up by every mainstream media outlet in the country.

Gordon tells Meerman Scott that the influence marketing campaign ultimately impacted nearly 350 million people around the world.

So, who are you influencing?

Influence marketing can be an extremely useful tool for a resource-strapped startup or expansion stage business. It is cost effective and extremely efficient in getting the word out about your product or service to the people that truly matter.

Those are two pretty significant benefits. After all, with a unique software product, you don’t necessarily have to reach the masses. You just need to reach the right pockets of potential influencers and prospects who will actually care about what you have to say.

Faria Rahman
Faria Rahman

Faria Rahman is the Co-Founder of Treemarc which, uses machine learning to make it easy for businesses to order custom packaging and product nesting in a few minutes. Previously, she was a Senior Associate at Northbridge Financial Corporation, a leading commercial property and casualty insurance management company offering a wide range of innovative solutions to Canadian businesses. Faria also worked at OpenView from 2010 to 2011 where she was part of the Market Research team.
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