One of the hardest things for a company to do is establish trust. If you want people to buy what you create, they have to be convinced it’s worth the money. One of the ways we decide whether or not something is worth our hard earned cash is by asking our friends and family for recommendations, or by reading reviews online; when you’re a new company, no such reviews are going to exist, and friends and family won’t have purchased from you. You can run an advertising campaign to generate interest, but those campaigns can often become quite expensive. Fortunately, there’s a new solution in the digital age: influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is when someone with influence uses or endorses your product. It’s actually been around for ages; you could argue that Michael Jackson’s Pepsi affiliation was a type of influencer marketing, because they focused on his star power; if The King of Pop drinks Pepsi, why don’t you? It exists in other forms, too; if you see Brad Pitt driving a Tesla, you might think Teslas are pretty cool. This type of influencer marketing is pretty costly, because you need celebrities to sign on to your products and endorse them; it’s probably you simply don’t have access to that kind of influence.
The social media era has given us new influencers, though; social media stars. You’ll see sponsored content in YouTube videos all the time, but influencer marketing can be much more subtle. You can send influencers who are already targeting your target audience your wares, and ask them to review what you’ve sent over. You can even just send them a free trial of a service or product you think they’d like, and hope that they talk about it in a video or show it on screen. This type of marketing is really powerful, because the people viewing these social media stars are looking for your product. A few examples: if you’ve made a new board game, send it to someone who plays board games on their channel regularly. You can send a spiffy new piece of fashion to an Instagram model, or your new eyeshadow palette to a makeup artist. Finding out who uses your product or service, then deliver samples of it to key influencers in the genre; influencer marketing can be as simple as that.
The greatest advantage of this type of marketing is that it’s really cheap; the price of your product or service is all you need to pay, so as long as you’re not selling cars you can probably find a place for it in your budget. It can be a bit unreliable, and you don’t want your influencers to be too overt about the marketing, lest it look like paid promotion. That said, if you’re in the industry there are probably already influencers you follow; see if you can connect with them.
When you’re filing your taxes, how you write in your expenses for influencer marketing can be important, but tricky to figure out. An experienced accounting firm will help you file properly, so you can spread your influence far and wide.