It’s one thing to develop top-notch content, create an amazing website, or write a must-read book—all of which, admittedly, are difficult and noteworthy tasks. Business success, however, relies on much more than simply creating a great product. You must be able to create buzz around your brand and give people reasons to believe in it.

Advertising, PR, direct mail, and (in recent years) social media and blogging—all are tried and true methods of telling and reinforcing your brand story. But what if I told you there’s a way to get exponentially more bang for your marketing efforts? It’s called “Influencer Marketing.”

Trusted Voices

The idea behind Influencer Marketing is simple. Find a voice that people in your target audience trust and have that voice help you tell your brand story. It’s really not such a new concept. Good old word-of-mouth marketing is a form of influencer marketing. For example, if you tell a colleague or friend great things about yours truly and the Barrel O’Monkeyz team, and that positive feedback results in increased awareness or even a paying gig, then I’ve benefited from your ability to convince others (i.e. your influence over them).

Now, apply the power of social media and the reach of the worldwide web, and you can begin to see the influence a celebrity, sports figure, academic type, or virtually any trusted expert in a particular field has to influence his or her audience in regards to your brand.

  • Authors do it all the time. Write a book and get a famous author or expert to endorse your tome.
  • Politicians have been engaging in influencer marketing as long as there have been campaigns to run. Running for office? Get a trusted official or another public entity/figure to endorse you over your opponent.
  • Find a celebrity with a large online following on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and have him or her say great things about your brand and suddenly you’re in front of millions of potential prospects.

Buying Influence

Not all influence is created equally. For instance, did you know that some experts only endorse books if they’re paid to do so? How would knowing that an endorsement was paid for affect its impact on your purchase decision?

The same goes for product endorsements.

We see this all the time with paid infomercials and the likes of Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek espousing the merits of Colonial Penn’s guaranteed acceptance life insurance. Similarly, do you think Nike would have been as successful with its marketing back in the 1980s and 1990s without Michael Jordan there to push its “Air Jordan” line of shoes?

You’re bound to wonder “Is this really influence, or just another form of paid promotion?”

It’s clear that as brands engage in buying influence vs. generating organic influence (i.e. a well-known person/expert who genuinely likes a brand and is willing to tell its story without being paid to do so), they walk a fine line between appearing authentic vs. appearing phony and self-serving. In other words, just as there is ongoing debate over the value and efficacy of paid search engine results vs. organic search results (with organic generally deemed of more value), we see the same kinds of arguments being made here.

The 6 Most Surreal Celebrity Endorsements

The Bottom Line

According to several studies cited in a 2015 Forbes article, “Love It Or Hate It: Influencer Marketing Works”:

  • Ninety-two percent of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source.
  • Word of mouth generates 2 times the sales of paid advertising.
  • Customers acquired through word-of-mouth have a 37% higher retention rate.
  • Businesses make $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing.

These are real numbers and real results we marketers and business owners can sink our teeth and our budgets into! So tell me, has this King Money influenced you—even just a little—to consider influencer marketing for your next marketing campaign?

Share your thoughts about and experiences with influencer marketing here.

Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O’MONKEYZ, a full-service digital media and marketing group specializing in more creativity, ideas, and fun for action sports marketing, sportswear marketing, sports product marketing, active lifestyle consumer products, health product marketing, and brands in San Diego and Southern California.