In the unlikely event that you haven’t come across influencer marketing, most obviously this is where people of celebrity status endorse products and influence fans and admirers in their social media channels to purchase or subscribe.
Many may be cynical to marketing, but the fact is target audiences are far more likely to trust recommendations made by respected influencers than any other form of marketing message.
The practice is widespread for lifestyle marketing, targeting the spend of disposable income on items like cosmetics, sports apparel, fast fashion and movies. However, influencers don’t need to be celebrities and they don’t necessarily have to influence lifestyle choices.
They can be anyone with a social media footprint, like a YouTube gamer, a widely read marketing blogger or a business executive. What they have in common are that they might be considered subject matter experts with opinions or knowledge that attracts followers in their respective communities.
So, how do we apply influencer marketing practice to SaaS products?
Finding the right influencers to approach requires a bit of homework! Firstly, to be influential, they need to be regularly engaging with their audience on a weekly or at least monthly basis. And regular outreach to their subscribers is not enough. They need to be engaging their audience by getting shares, likes, comments and retweets on Twitter.
Secondly, appropriate influencers need to be ‘right-sized’ – someone of a stature that marries up well with that of your SaaS company. For instance, if you were selling internet services, it would be inappropriate to approach Tim Berners-Lee. He may have invented (more or less…) the World Wide Web (WWW), but that doesn’t mean he would could make sense out of promoting what you do…
Similarly, for some potential influencers you might want to shortlist, it’s possible that there might be too much overlap between what you both do, creating a conflict of interest, because you are competing against each other to some degree.
So, now you have a shortlist of 5 -10 people who are the ideal prospects to target as influencers for your SaaS product, how do you go after them?
You need to build a relationship and it needs to be symbiotic and work for both parties. You have to come from the position of mutuality – there needs to be a sense of reciprocal value, that is both sides see what the other does as valuable.
Be sure to familiarise yourself with their output. At the end of the day if they sense you are being disingenuous because you aren’t sincere or haven’t done your homework then you won’t be able to develop the relationship.
When you open the conversation make it personal. Don’t use standard templates letters and emails. One of the most effective ways to get started is to offer them something, such as exposure through your content marketing program.
For instance, you might want to cite them as a subject matter expert in your blogs or white papers, helping to build their profile. Similarly, you could retweet their Twitter posts where appropriate to your subscribers.
Be open with them, because, chances are, your targets have probably read a blog or two like this one and they know what the game is… invite them to team-up as partners so you can help each other out on achieving your promotional goals.
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