In my opinion, outreach marketing is based on a single principle: consumers tend to trust their peers much more than they trust brands. This of course has been the basic principle behind word-of-mouth marketing for ages. But in today’s world of blogs, YouTube and social media, ‘peers’ have extended to include what we call ‘influencers’.
Influencers are considered opinion leaders in their field, whether that be baking, finance or make-up – all fields have a plethora of experts who boast an impressive number of followers each. These followers read their websites or blogs, watch their YouTube videos, and interact with them through liking and commenting on their online posts. So why are influencers massively growing in popularity?
Sugar, spice and everything nice – what makes an influencer?
Imagine the following situation: you see an online banner ad claiming that a new moisturiser will magically erase all of your wrinkles – do you buy it? Probably not. Now imagine that instead of the banner ad, your mother is raving about this product and insists that it has made her look ten years younger – now do you buy the moisturiser?
Chances are, you are much more likely to follow your mom’s advice than to be persuaded by the banner ad. This is because your mom portrays the following attributes:
- She is similar to you: after all, your skin is her skin, right?
- She is trustworthy: why would she want you to buy something that could hurt you or lead you to waste money?
- She is an expert: she has been using moisturisers for years so she must know her stuff!
- She is likeable: this is pretty much a given – she’s your mother!
Influencers hold power over their followers because they are similar to them, trustworthy, experts and likeable (I demonstrated this in my Masters dissertation – have a read here if you wish!). Because it is now so easy to create and promote content online, and because consumers are spending more and more time on their multiple devices, influencers have not only increased in quantity but also reach and power.
So why should I care about influencers?
The easiest way to think about influencers is as hubs in your network. By reaching out to just one influencer and convincing him or her that your brand is the best at meeting his or her needs (e.g. a cookbook for a baking blogger or a new bike for a cycling vlogger) and therefore the needs of his or her audience, your brand will soon be exposed to his thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. This provides exponential growth not only in the reach of your brand message but most importantly significantly amplifies its effectiveness, thanks to the four influencer attributes defined earlier. By nurturing those few valuable hubs in your network, you can grow it to millions of actionable spokes.
So influencers are like robots?
Nope! Influencers (bloggers, vloggers, journalists, website owners, etc.) are human. They must be treated like humans, that is to say with respect and not with emails like: “PROMOTE MY PRODUCT OR ELSE”. Bad example, but you see what I mean.
This is all great, but what is outreach marketing?
Outreach marketing is the continual process of creating and cultivating relationships with valuable influencers in your field in order to increase your brand’s shares of voice, mind and wallet. Outreach marketers:
- naturally encourage the creation and distribution of authentic brand messages from influencers to their audience;
- build mutually beneficial relationships with opinion leaders and look after their advocates;
- amplify the end consumer’s brand experience by involving beloved influencers in the ideation and creation stages of branding and content marketing.
…to name just a few!
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