Identifying Influencers for Your Event
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin
Often times when I think about marketing, I used to think of the classes I attended in college: SWOT analysis, the marketing mix of the 4 C’s and 4 P’s, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and so on. There was commonly one silo (marketing) that was the research and one that was the execution (advertising). Marketing has evolved into something with the potential for so much more: content, influencer, digital, inbound, viral, social, etc. Despite the type, it’s my belief that the best way to be a marketer is to be a consumer, be an attendee, and be aware of the messages that you’re personally more receptive to.
We, as an audience, have become increasingly adaptive to the messages that we see in the media and, in most cases, can pinpoint the ones that are sincere and those that are simply trying to sell with little regard to whom they are speaking to. No matter the industry, the product, or the service, word-of-mouth continues to be one of the most influential mediums for marketing. Why? It’s honest. It’s very difficult to sway as most trusted opinions come from someone that you know. It’s even more difficult to control; social media gives opinions and perspective an avenue to be broadcast to a much larger audience.
As an event planner, there is seemingly little that can be done to change what is already out there. So how can we influence the messages? Well, by identifying and promoting the influencers. An influencer is someone who is already talking about your event and giving them the tools and a platform to promote the information that they’re already having discussions about.
We’re not looking to change their opinions, however. Because everyone has an outlet to express their opinions, the sheer amount of information around one topic can be overwhelming. When highlighting someone who is an influence in your market, you’ve addressed your audience’s “friend they always go to for advice.”
We hear about Millennials on a daily basis; they’ve become the target for most marketing efforts as they’re the largest audience for the events that are being planned. We’ll put aside the debate (stereotypes) commonly associated with the term and consider them from a purely high-level marketing perspective. What do they like, want, and value? And what does it matter when we’re talking about influencer marketing?
Everything. It has to do with everything. As we’ve addressed previously, Millennials (the same is true for Gen Z, though they will be slightly more critical to determine the value) look for transparency, and they respect authenticity. Gone are the days where it was enough to find the most popular celebrity, shove some money in their pocket and hand them a bottle of shampoo to endorse. Our audiences are much smarter than that, and they’re aware of the conversations that already exist on the web.
Who are the Influencers?
The most important part of influencer marketing is the influencer themselves. The importance of finding the right influencer is imperative to the success of having their support for your event. What matters the most when seeking out an influencer? The authority and level of trust that they have with their followers. It’s easy to get caught up in the follower counts; people can buy followers and likes, and numbers don’t always mean influence. The quality of the influencer is only as strong as their audience so pay mind to the relevancy of those who seek their advice. Do they align with the target you’re trying to reach?
If someone has to tell you that they are an influencer, they’re more than likely not. Those who have a true impact are the ones who aren’t doing it for their self-interest. They are doing it for the greater good and for the topics that they are passionate about (this can also be coined sentiment marketing). If you have good people with good stories to tell, allowing them, control is creating the honesty that is so highly regarded.
Find the Right Influencer
It’s important to note that there are regulations put in place to weed out those who are endorsing something for a return profit. This is why it is so important to find the influencers that are personally invested in the subject matter that your event addresses. They will speak at your event because it’s a conference with the same audience they speak to on a daily basis with similar values they promote.
Don’t forget the micro-influencers. Your employees and staff are also part of the picture, and you would do well to remember that. Although they’re there for a paycheck, the majority are working for an organization that they believe in.
Tell a Story and Drive Value
Focus on where you want to go and how influencer marketing can get you there. Be strategic. Tell a story to captivate the audience and ensure that it is relatable. It should be mutually beneficial: the audience gains a wealth of information not available anywhere else, and they’re connecting with like-minded individuals. Your event gets an audience that is captivated, engaged, and receptive to the messages that are being delivered. Thus increasing sales and revenues and establishing the event as one that delivers on what was promised.
There is an increased awareness of social responsibility, both individually and in businesses. If you can provide a purpose around your branded event (to receive information not sourced anywhere else), you drive the brand with responsibility. The end result of the event is to deliver educational content, and your audience can hold the brand accountable for that purpose.
Make a Difference with Event Marketing
When you can identify the influencers who have the same motivations and values as your business, their presence will be truly organic. This gives your event a much deeper purpose because the audience is genuine. There a number of different types of marketing that can be used to support your event but influencer marketing can be one of the most vital. Learn to appreciate those that are already speaking on behalf of your event and embrace their presence.
Have you embraced an influencer in your event marketing? If so, how did you identify them and what impact did they have on your event? We’d love to know!