Building Your Brand - What is Influencer Marketing, and How Can It Help Grow Your Business

August 20, 2021

You've launched your small business. Now how do you let people know it exists? Influencer marketing represents a cost-effective way to grow your brand, letting you take advantage of one of the fastest-growing customer acquisition methods.

As a small business owner, you operate with a limited budget. Yet you have to compete with the established big players in your industry. To do that, you need to get the most out of every dollar you spend on marketing.

In this environment, influencer marketing can jumpstart your brand development. In this article, you'll learn what influencer marketing is, why it provides an efficient use of your marketing budget, and how to find the right influencers for your brand.

What is Influencer Marketing?

The rise of social media has created a direct connection between celebrities and their fans. What's more, platforms like Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have minted their own kind of stars, people famous mainly from their online content.

Influencer marketing represents a cost-effective way to grow your brand, letting you take advantage of one of the fastest-growing customer acquisition methods.

Brands have increasingly tapped into this trend to sell their products. Companies can develop a relationship with online personalities who align with their desired customers.

In many ways, this represents an extension of celebrity endorsements that have been going on since the start of advertising. Michael Jordan helped build Nike in the 1980s and 1990s – using influencer tactics in a very different media climate. In the post-social media world, the idea remains the same – the process has just become modernized.

Marketing Channels for Your Small Business

As you look to grow your small business, what are your marketing choices? Looking at the options can help place influencer marketing in context. Here are some of the other alternatives:

  • Display ads
  • Organic search
  • Email marketing

These channels also represent useful ways to expand your brand. However, given your limited marketing budget, the gains here will likely remain steady and methodical. Influencer marketing gives you a chance to fast-track this growth by plugging directly into your selected customer segment.

Benefits of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing has become a go-to strategy for many forward-looking brands. One study showed that 8 in 10 marketers found the strategy effective, while nearly 9 in 10 (89%) said its results equaled or surpassed other marketing channels.

Another set of statistics showed that companies can earn a dramatic return on investment for influencer investments. The survey showed that the average firm using an influencer received $5.20 of earned media value for every dollar put into the effort.

Meanwhile, on the high end, the figures pointed to an even more dramatic return. The study showed up to an $18-to-$1 return for firms that really knew how to leverage their influencer connection.

How to Create a Winning Influencer Marketing Strategy

Influencer marketing doesn't work like a light switch. You can't just flip it on and wait for sales to turn on. Rather, it only works if you execute a well-considered strategy and choose the right influencer partners.

Here are some steps to consider as you develop a winning influencer marketing strategy:

Craft an Overall Marketing Plan

When you recruit an influencer for your small business, they should slot into an overall blueprint for growing your brand. This will let you get the most out of the relationship. At the same time, it will help you choose the right online personalities and guide how you want to deploy their efforts.

Develop Your Own Social Media Footprint

Don't assume an influencer can create a brand from scratch. Without a pre-existing structure, you won't get the bang for the buck you need. Instead, invest in your social media footprint and your overall branding before seeking out influencer partnerships. This way, you can use the relationships you forge to expand, rather than establish, your market credentials.

Select the Right Partner

The success of your influencer strategy depends on the particular partnership you form. This may seem like an obvious fact. But it's important to consider the importance of this decision to your ultimate success or failure.

Be Ready to Capture Increased Exposure

You've chosen the ideal influencer and you see a sudden boost in your visibility with the perfect audience. Are you ready to cash in?

Before you launch your partnership, build the right infrastructure. Know how you'll monetize the curious potential buyers you'll attract. Also, make sure you're ready for a spike in demand if the marketing effort pays off.

How to Find the Right Influencer for Your Brand

As we mentioned, choosing the perfect influencer for your brand represents a pivotal decision. That selection can single-handedly determine the success or failure of the venture. Here are a few steps that will let you form the optimal partnership for you:

Understand Your Target Audience

Before seeking out a brand partner, learn as much as you can about your ideal customer. This will let you recruit the perfect influencer.

Shop Around

Check out various influencers. Get to know their process and their voice. Make a list of ones that might suit your brand.

From there, you can use further research to narrow your group. Survey current customers to see if any names jump out as perfect fits.

Conduct Due Diligence

Take a deep dive into your favorite influencers' past content. You don't want any questionable posts coming back to haunt you after you've tied yourself to someone.

Use Third-Party Tools

There are services that connect brands with influencers. Find one that matches your needs and let experts help you make a decision.

Consider Compensation

There are different ways to create a brand partnership. You can sign a longer-term deal, pay on a per-post basis, or create a deep relationship that can include an equity stake.

Build a Relationship

Like developing any long-term connection, don't be afraid to start small. Test out the value of various influencer relationships before rushing into a big commitment.

Jumpstarting Your Brand through Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing isn't a perfect fit for every situation. However, for many small- and medium-sized businesses, it can create a shortcut to brand recognition. You can quickly upgrade your profile by tying yourself to the right online personality.

One study showed that 8 in 10 marketers found [influencer marketing] effective, while nearly 9 in 10 (89%) said its results equaled or surpassed other marketing channels.

This fast-growing customer acquisition method will let you tap into high-profile trends like TikTok. At the same time, the right influencer strategy can achieve ROIs well above the other channels at your disposal.

If your startup needs something to fast-track your customer acquisition, influencer marketing could provide a good fit. Success will depend on the specific situation. But a well-run campaign can connect you with the right audience and make the most of your marketing budget.