In Chris Grantham recent article “Why what brands do is more important than what they say”, he reminds us how critical it is for brands to hear firsthand what their best customers think about them. For a brand to fully understand their identity, they need to go beyond top-down marketing messages. They need to discover how to connect the customer’s real-world experience to the customer’s expectations. And influencer marketing can be helpful in this field.
Customer collaboration with marketing allows the savviest brands to craft their perfect brand identity. Consumers today are deeply and emotionally invested in the reputation of their favorite brands. As Chris concluded, “People care more than ever about their experience of a brand.” The experience you deliver is your brand in your customer’s mind.
This is precisely why influencer marketing has proven phenomenal for branding. The most effective influencers speak in their own voice on topics that matter to them. People can feel that authenticity coming through cyberspace. The modern consumer is understandably suspicious about sponsored content, but they trust their networks when they recommend such content. Indeed, 45% of them claim to trust the content written on specialized blogs. And the most effective brand awareness emerges naturally from influencer discussions today, not from interruptive advertisements.
Here are some stats that may surprise you about how many people rely on their online networks to inform their purchases:
- Around 85 percent of consumers read online reviews before they buy
- Nearly half (46 percent) read at most three reviews
- Approximately 79 percent trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
The Experience Gap
You’ll never be able to connect with each of your customers and prospective customers with individual experiences, but influencers can help bridging that gap. Find the most creative ways to help craft customer experiences and partner with key influencers for your target segment. This means far more than just sending out samples and product testing. Here are some ways that brands got creative and got results.
Crafting Unique Experiences
Don’t think of Legoland in Denmark as an amusement park. It is a gigantic brand experience crafting center. You don’t have to go that large, though. Any brand can think of fun ways for influencers to interact with your brand at local stores and parks. Brands can make a big impression on specific influencers with programs targeted to their unique specialties, like sponsorship of 5K races for a fitness blogger or wristbands at concerts for a music reviewer. Engage with influencers where they are most likely to form lasting memories. They will definitely convey this experience to their engaged audience.
Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of consumers say unique experiences determine which specific brands they will use in the future. That is critical because only 26 percent of consumers say they have had the kind of unique experiences that they want. There is plenty of room to stand out.
Smart brands are investing in experience by creating contests, talking to the community and giving free samples to influencers when there is a related story to tell. Of course, it is important to invite influencers and their community to your special events, but it is even more critical to interact with them regularly.
No one thought an Apple Store was a good idea in 2001. Industry experts were completely wrong and Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo quoted retail analysts who made statements like:
-“Sorry, Steve, here’s why Apple Stores won’t work.”
-“Apple’s problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers.”
-“I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake.”
What these experts didn’t understand was that experience matters and that influencers drive brand identity for most consumers. Influencers need to get their hands on your brand in a memorable environment. Influencers craft your brand identity when they use it but also when they talk about it. They are brilliant information relays.
A Boosted Win-Win Relationship
Offering influencers and their audience a way to share experience with your brand is a fantastic opportunity to benefit from both sides. Regarding your customers and influencers, you make them live something they will hopefully remember all their life. Experiences will make you likeable and valuable in customer’s mind.
On your side, your branding, first, will grow and end up fortified. As you deepen your knowledge of how people interact with your brand in the real world, you will gain much greater insight into your next generation of potential customers and what they want to feel when they use your brand.
Essentially, you are enhancing your influencer marketing’s ROI by gaining customer loyalty for a lower cost. But in some ways, earning more engagement usually leads faster to the purchase. As consumers co-create your brand identity, they feel part of a larger community. Also, involving main influencers in creating the experience is definitly a way to ensure great success.
So make your Influencer Marketing more alive! Give influencers and their community a chance to feel, test and connect with your brand.
That’s an experience that all brands want to have.