Article

Letitiah Obiri
Letitiah Obiri 14 March 2017

Why Consumer Marketing Trumps Influencer Marketing

Consumer marketing is a fantastic way to get real customers to promote your brand without spending a small fortune doing so. Customers who actually love your brand and products are your strongest advocates because they have a much stronger sway with their peers than some glossy influencer ever will.

As a small business or start-up with a tiny marketing budget, it can be difficult to allocate spend for a shiny new influencer marketing campaign when most top ‘influencers’ charge thousands for the privilege of working with them. So what is the alternative to costly influencer endorsements? Actual customer endorsements of course!

Consumer marketing is a fantastic way to get real customers to promote your brand without spending a small fortune doing so. Customers who actually love your brand and products are your strongest advocates because they have a much stronger sway with their peers than some glossy influencer ever will.

Additionally unlike influencers, some of whom may not even know your brand let alone buy from it, customers won’t expect some exorbitant fee for one flimsy promotional post on Instagram. With more and more consumers wising up to paid product placements, learn why your brand should collaborate with consumers instead of influencers and discover how this can boost brand loyalty and engagement.

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Consider consumers changing attitudes

For major brands with endless advertising budgets, an influencer campaign is typically the quickest way of getting some star power behind your brand from those seen as ‘celebrities’ in their fields of expertise.  This of course has several advantages; it’s cheaper to partner with a top beauty blogger than it is some Hollywood starlet for example, but is there a danger of influencers becoming so elevated to a certain level of fame that they actually alienate consumers? Many of today’s top influencers are being paid a hefty sum to sell a glossy filtered lifestyle to consumers that is supposed to be ‘aspirational’, as some would put it. Unfortunately, today’s consumers are more cynical and wise to the airbrushed façade of these glamourous influencers leading unobtainable lives and this can actually work against your brand. Consumers are already sick and tired of being bombarded with images of Hollywood celebrities spouting the virtues of day cream or detox tea and look to influencers for something real and authentic. Influencers trying too hard to emulate that glitzy image could risk losing a personalised connection with consumers and that can be detrimental to your brand.

Avoid influencer bias and loss of credibility 

Even with the demand for influencers, marketers are noticing a dilution taking place where paid influencers are beginning to lose credibility. When you partner with a leading influencer who is well known for her lucrative endorsements, there is a risk of perceived bias that could be potentially damaging for your brand. Consumers may doubt the legitimacy of your relationship with a top influencer who awkwardly shoehorns a reference to your product or service into their Instagram post. Likewise, with influencers having a legal obligation to disclose their brand partnerships, consumers are less likely to see their praise of your product as genuine. ‘Paid influencers are starting to be like advertising banners – it’s contaminated and consumers acknowledge when an influencer is being paid,’ said SodaStream’s Global Digital Manager Itai Bichler in Marketing Week recently.

Transform consumers into brand ambassadors

So how can brands keep their credibility intact, prevent bias and stop alienating their consumers? By building a small army of evangelists who will co-collaborate on marketing campaigns in a way that is real and authentic to consumers.  Brands should partner with consumers and enable them to take centre stage in brand messaging to help build a real level of authenticity that is often difficult to achieve with celebrity influencers.  Consider reaching out to a selection of your top spending customers; they may not have millions of followers between them but they still have the power to influence. Create and invite them to a special brand ambassador programme that allows them to become content creators by sharing reviews, tutorials and images of your products and reward them for their submissions, with anything from complimentary gifts with each purchase or special offers. Finally, make these consumers feel like influencers by treating them like rock stars and incentivising them for their custom instead of their social media following.

Increase loyalty and engagement with referrals

Brand ambassadors should play a vital role in your marketing team as they too will be promoting your products and services to consumers. As well as being given exclusive opportunities to create content, front marketing campaigns and enjoy your latest products, they should also be incentivised for encouraging their peers to become your customers too. If you already have a referral programme in place this is a great way to allow your ambassadors to earn rewards by referring your brand to their wider network. Statistics have shown time and time again that trust worthy referrals from peers is much more likely to drive conversions than from brands or even influencers themselves. Referrals can be a mutually beneficial relationship for both the ambassador and peer, where both are rewarded at the point of purchase with a discount for example, and the objective is that peers are also encouraged to refer their friends and so on. Ultimately by having a merry band of ambassadors to co-market on your brand’s behalf, you will benefit from a more loyal and engaged customer base who feels valued and compelled to promote your brand without huge financial gain.

 

 

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