We all know how valuable our sales team is. They are the ones out there pounding the pavement, meeting with buyers, influencing purchasing decisions, educating the retailers, and making sure our product is seen on the shelves. We know how important our e-commerce strategies are. It’s these strategies that get traffic to our website, optimize our site for conversion, and bring in high-margin revenue. But, do we really understand how valuable the influencer voice is? Over the past few years we have heard a lot about ambassadors and influencers. There have been many books published on the subject. Have we bought in yet? If we haven’t, it is time and here is why we ought to consider brand influencers.

Third-Party Opinion

When making a buying decision who do we trust? The salesman? The television ad? The latest YouTube campaign? Some random dude on a billboard? These all may play a part in our buying our decision, but if we have a confirmation from a close friend or relative then we are convinced.

When looking for a restaurant in a new city the first place I often go is to my friends that have been there, especially the ones that I know enjoy food like I do. If I know someone that has lived in that area then that is even better. If I don’t know of anyone that has lived there or been there then I go to Google and look for independent write ups of food in the area. I prefer the independent ones, especially if they have been to various places and written about a variety of restaurants. This is a great way for me to know if a place is worth visiting or not. My last resource is then Yelp. I will then read through reviews to find something that fits who I am and what I enjoy. I am picky about the places that I go. Yelp can steer me wrong, and so can blogs, but rarely have any of my foodie friends.

This is how many people make their buying decisions. They look to their friends that are specialists in that area. Everyone still asks me what good running socks are or what jacket they should get when the temperature turns cold. Of course, I still get “which Altra are the best?” They ask me because they know that I am entrenched in that sport. I am a trusted influencer to those close to me. These are the people that we ought to be rewarding to spread our product love.

Real Product Users

One of the foremost brands in influencer marketing is Experticity and they have a great ad campaign going around that shows a fat dude on the couch writing a bunch of product reviews. These reviews are no more real than a robot producing the same reviews. It has become hard to trust the likes of Yelp, Google, Amazon Reviews and others. They have come a long way by showing confirmed purchasers of a product and including images, but this has still only gone so far. We all trust the neighbor that is out 2-3x a week on his boat when it comes time to get a new wakeboard or set of slalom skis. Or that friend that runs 30-40 miles a week when we need running shoes. They influence our buying decisions.

Amplified Voice

We only have so many sales people out there. Cost per acquisition continues to rise through digital strategies. Social algorithms are being constantly adjusted and muted for brands. The market is going back to a pay-to-play strategy through all marketing mediums. With all of these issues facing brands and marketers we need to look for opportunities to continually amplify our brand voice. Brand Influencers help to achieve this.

Everyone, unless they live in a cave in the middle of nowhere, has a sphere of influence. Some more than others. By leveraging local influence, social media, and various groups and clubs you can create quite the network. By then being avid in specific activities and doing these things regularly this network then sees you as an authority. You become trusted on your opinion, not because you are the best or that you are sponsored, but because you are authentic and committed.

They Share Your Passion

Ever tried to go for a jog in the park with someone that hates running? Maybe you have tried to drag one of your kids out but they just rather have stayed home with their video games? How about striving to have a conversation with a neighbor about that epic ski day and all they wanted to talk about was how bad the snow is because they can’t garden? It’s hard to do things we love with those that despise it. We want to be with like-minded people. We want people that share our passion.

Our brand loyalists are this way. They’ve fallen in love with our story. They love what we do in the industry that we are in. They’re so passionate about it that they want to tell the world without any compensation. These are influencers that really help to facilitate the growth of our brand. They share our passion for our brand.

When we started Altra we were amazed by how quickly word-of-mouth spread to what we were doing. We found several loyalists that hung around our marathon booths and race tents. They were always bragging to everyone how awesome this new shoe company was. Many of these individuals have become lifelong friends. They were our first brand ambassadors. They were loyal to the core. It was upon their backs that we built a thriving ambassador team that has now sold hundreds of thousands of shoes over the past five years. I am a believer. Influencer marketing works.

Quality & Real Content

Every brand is striving to tell a story. That is typically what a brand is. Brand by definition is a mark or symbol. Going back to the branding of an animal to identify ownership. Today, the term brand has become more than just a mark or logo that identifies ownership, it has become a mark that symbolizes an emotion, quality, culture, or a specific story. We associate the bitten apple with quality, design, tech, and performance. We associate the coca cola brand with a soda, but also with refreshing. We associate the Backcountry.com goat with outdoors, a culture of extreme adventure. Each of these symbols show more than what they are, they tell a story about the culture and community.

As brands we strive to tell this story. We want people to feel a part of our brand culture. We want them to want our products and not our competitors. Utilizing brand influencers and ambassadors in our marketing story can help cultivate this feeling of belonging to a brand. People can relate to relatable individuals. By using real people in our marketing and telling their story we foster an obtainable culture. People want to be inspired, but they also want to relate. If we are always aspirational then we fail to bring the consumer along with us, especially in todays marketplace. These brand influencers are the an extension of our brands. They help foster the story.

How to Do It?

Go out and get started! If you don’t have a lineup of brand influencers already then look at your social media team and ask them who engages with you the most. Have them research this and track it. Often the best influencers may not have the largest following, but they are almost always the most passionate about your brand. Look to your online sales and see who has purchased the most from your brand over the past year. Who utilizes your hashtags the most? Who comments or likes every Facebook or Instagram post? These are the people that you want to bring into your tight fold. Start with these few and build it out from there. You will be amazed at what a few influencers can do for your brand.

Enjoy working with these passionate fans!