You need a handyman, so you go straight to Google right? Wrong. Most likely you will phone a family member or get a referral from one of those other Friends of yours – you know – your ‘nearest and dearest’ on Facebook. The reason is simple. When it comes to recommendations,  first-hand experience means everything. It is no different when it comes to retail marketing. Because now there is a new word-of-mouth in the form of ‘Influencers’. A powerful online community where opinion is everything. And these Influencers – real people at the helm of like-minded communities – are increasingly playing a pivotal role in how retail businesses are perceived and supported.

Get their people to like you

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market

Influencers are like the cool kids parading the school corridor. They know everything, they have the best stuff, the best experiences and most of all, everyone wants to be on their ‘It’ list. So do you. Well, your business does at least. To do this, you first need them to notice you and then you want to encourage them to talk about you behind your back and get all their Friends to ‘Like’ you. Influencers are a new virtual circle of trust that can make a marked difference in how you are perceived in the great social universe. This should be a key component of your retail marketing campaign.

Gain their trust

When it comes to retail marketing you need to be smart. Influencers can offer that all-powerful ‘Thumbs Up’. The secret lies in the impression (be it true or not) that the Influencer has used your product/ service and was suitably impressed. This provides the illusion of a first-party endorsement. You want that.

Authenticity is key

Now don’t be fooled, as virtual as this all is, authenticity is a currency all on its own. Online communities can quickly spot a fox in their feed. This means that the connection between your business and the Influencer must be authentic in some sense, like brand alliance or community interest.

How to Hire Social Media Influencers:

Step 1: Find your fit

When it comes to identifying the right Influencer to partner with, ‘big’ is not always ‘better’. Some Influencers boast millions of Followers, but they are merely passive viewers who are not emotionally connected to the Influencer’s opinion. Consider approaching an Influencer with fewer Followers but a tight community of engaged and loyal members. It all boils down to interaction. Then, once in negotiations, insist on tracking lists and demographics. You need to make sure that your image and theirs, align. This speaks to the above-mentioned authenticity because if your brands are correctly aligned, their people will instinctively want to become your people.

Step 2: Make a Deal

The top Influencers make it their business to run their page like a business. Usually, for brand support, there is some kind of quid pro quo. But its not always in the form of cash. It can also be in the form of experiences. So for example, if you are a Spa Owner you might consider offering a luxurious couple’s experience for the Influencer to enjoy ‘on the house’… but then also to be reviewed later…online…from their house. Also very importantly, think about how this engagement will be valuable for their Followers. Consider including giveaways or an informative interview through an online forum.

Step 3: Know what you’re both getting

Be sure to understand upfront what is expected from both parties. You may well be partnering with a ‘Mom’ Influencer who will likely be picking up her kids after your meeting ends. But rest assured that as soon as those babies are asleep, she will be online and engaging with the adults again. So keep the deal transparent and approach every Influencer like an entrepreneur. Make sure it’s clear, for example, how many Facebook and Instagram posts you expect in return for your contribution. And as always, get it in writing.

Step 4: Invest in the opportunity

A big mistake made with retail marketing is assuming that this type of communication is cheap. We recommend investing a portion of your overall retail marketing budget in Influencer activity. Think of it as the Millenial’s PR and there is no reason why you shouldn’t harness this as you would any other legitimate marketing channel. It’s worth finding the funds for. “We often have business owners approach us for a loan in order to fund online marketing campaigns. Opportunities with influencers come and go quickly, which is why our Merchant Financing product is one of the few funding channels that can keep up,” says Chad Wellensiek, Marketing Manager at Beyond Inc.

Step 5: Invest in the relationship

One of the appeals of this marketing channel is that you are working with real people. Folks who you can potentially build important working relationships with. But bear in mind that an authentic relationship can always be felt by Followers. So consistent and considered appearances of your establishment on their Page provides meaningful brand awareness that can generate traffic for both parties.

Join the ‘NOW” of retail marketing

If you consider that 92% of customers trust recommendations from people they know, you can begin to recognize just how formidable a tool this is when it comes to retail marketing. So get online, beFriend and Follow, and as soon as you find the right Influencer to bolster your retail business, hit Like and go.

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