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Sunday Soundbite

Influencer marketing is being mis-sold by the marketing industry

This latest marketing technique has come to the fore because a lot of conventional content marketing directed at end users is simply not performing. So, the assumption goes, let’s market to the people and organisations that influence the end user and get to them that way.

Makes sense, but let’s start by saying some of us have been doing influencer marketing for years. We’ve always known that there is no flat, straight and uninterrupted route between the vendor and the end user decision maker, much as we’d all like there to be.

End users talk to a range of influencers, both internal and external, and make up their minds often long before the vendor’s messages and content have even been developed.

When the promise of influencer marketing fails to deliver

So far so good, but here’s where influencer marketing doesn’t deliver on the theory. Let’s unpick the phrase influencer marketing and then compare that to what is currently on offer from the marketing industry.

The first word is much more important than the second. The second is not important at all unless the first one works. What I mean is, if you don’t know who the influencers are, then marketing to them will be just about as effective as marketing to everyone.

Influencers need to be matched to the individuals and organisations where they actually have influence. It’s a long and painful journey but we know for sure that it’s worth it. Otherwise, where are you but on your own in a room full of people who don’t know you, don’t want to know you and probably wouldn’t want to know you even if you were able to catch their attention for a split second.

Data and insight are often missing from the influencer marketing strategy

That is clearly a metaphor, but it extends out from there into the real world of networking through commercial and social events. You network because you hope you might get lucky and run into someone who just happens to be looking for what you are selling, and thinks they like you enough at first sight to stop and have a chat.

But what is happening right now is, the marketing industry is selling a compelling theory but without any of the data or insight to enable it to happen, which means the vendor has to do all the work of research and data gathering, while all the agency is doing is syndicating the content and comms. In other words, bringing and adding no value to something that frankly the vendor could do themselves.

Here are 6 things to ask anyone trying to sell you influencer marketing :

Do you actually know the influencers I need to reach?

Do any of them know you?

Can you match any of these influencers to end users?

How will you help me build my influencer database?

How will your content and comms differ from what we are currently pushing out to the market?

What should I measure in order to determine success?


If you need help building your company’s reputation, and finding a voice in retail, get in touch today.


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