Influencer marketing dead? Far from it

I came across an article (no link, don’t think it’s worthy — read on as to why) stating that influencer marketing is a sham and is merely trade marketing by another name. I took exception with the entire founding premise of that article, not due to difference of opinion but rather of what I view as fact. My career for the last 10+ years has been based on harnessing the power of influencers to not only raise awareness of products and services, but also to improve the marketing messaging around it, improve product/service offerings, assist in executing promotions and events and, most important, in driving sales. This last is what in my mind sets influencer marketing apart from any other marketing endeavor.

It’s commonly stated that marketers know that advertising spending is inefficient, but cannot specific where their spend is wasted vs. useful. They merely know that if they decrease spending, they see a decrease in sales, and so they keep it up despite their misgivings. What’s more, PR and marketing efforts to garner ink in publications is an important endeavor, but it doesn’t come near approaching the value of influencer marketing. Ad spend and PR certainly raises awareness, but rarely does it link directly to sales, and it has no role on product or messaging feedback. On the other hand, influencers are a unique breed – what I call “your best customers” – who have such affinity for your brand and products that they’ll give you their time and expertise to improve it along all lines of the 4 P’s. No other marketing activity can provide such comprehensive value while also affecting the sale process to boot.

So why this diatribe? For one, I felt compelled to verbalize the reasons for why our firm exists – strange as that may seem, being that we’re headed into our 9th year. The article I refer to was and clearly titled as link bait, but nevertheless, it piqued my ire a bit (even more so, given that its premise was weak and the author ultimately ended up splitting hairs, deciding that influencer marketing was a legitimate practice, albeit a misnomer in his opinion).

Second — and to prove that I was not just looking for an argument but rather a chance to learn something — in a veritable constellation of articles supporting influencer marketing (see here, here and here), this article’s headline stood out as a compelling argument that needed my attention. Imagine my surprise when it eventually came across in the comments section that it was arguing more for than against. I truly appreciate chances to view facts from another perspective, esp. one that can amplify my own, even if it clashes with current closely held beliefs. Sadly, this was not that opportunity; hence my decline to do link to the article, as I don’t think it’s worth your time, as I really didn’t learn anything other than to avoid this particular author in future. (But if you insist, I’ll send you a link if you send us an email.)

And last, I am taking this opportunity to shamelessly mention our case studies, which you may find relate to problems you’re encountering in your industry, and so may be of help in some fashion. Others are on the way and we’ve got some we cannot share broadly, so if you find them interesting, feel free to drop us a line to discuss in depth.

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