Also known as influence marketing, influencer marketing is a type of strategy that relies heavily on the support of individuals within a targeted market rather than on the market itself. Closely related to the general concept of relationship marketing, influencer marketing makes use of contacts that help to spread the word about a given good or service, effectively creating a type of promotional network that can be used in conjunction with other marketing techniques. This word-of-mouth approach can be very effective, both in terms of enhancing the reputation of the product and in prompting additional sales.
Key to the function of influence marketing is the identification of individuals who are most likely to become advocates for the product or products offered for sale, providing recommendations to others within their social and business networks to purchase those products. For example, an influencer may be the manager of an information technology department at a large firm, who becomes so enthusiastic about a given technology that he or she actively promotes the product to other IT professionals when attending seminars, conferences, or when networking in a local business association. In some cases, the influencer may even like the product well enough to mention it in certain social settings, a move that may prompt others who have no business connection with the influencer to give the products a try.
Once prospective influencers are identified, the process of influencer marketing requires prioritizing those influencers and developing strategies to market products directly to them. The idea is that by convincing the influencer, the task of reaching others who respect his or her opinions will be much easier, which in turn helps to shorten the sales cycle and make it possible to garner more sales from the effort. Since the idea is to prompt influencers to introduce the products in an almost casual fashion to others, rather than some aggressive campaign, the end result is often that people are influenced to at least try the products without feeling any type of influence or coercion in the process.
While the general idea behind influencer marketing is to build relationships that prompt influencers to recommend the products to others within their social and business circles, it is important to note that the process can backfire. If the products do not live up to expectations, the influencer may in fact use his or her connections in different social and business settings to make others aware of the products and their defects, and thus discourage others from looking into or buying those products. For this reason, influencer marketing techniques are best utilized by companies that do provide quality goods and services that compete well in the marketplace.