Word of mouth endorsement is still the most powerful form of promotion because it feels more authentic than any advert and most importantly, it comes with the reputation of the person who is doing the endorsing. Combine an excellent product and the recommendation of a respected expert, and it’s a dynamite combination for growing the awareness and reputation of a brand.
It has always been the case, whether it was journalist reviews in newspapers, to celebrity endorsements, now it’s all about influencers on social media.
People spend an enormous amount of time on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube following and watching people they admire and respect. My kids never watch tv, I have cancelled my subscription to Sky. Times are changing, and if you want to be on the winning side of history, you need to be thinking about using influencers to raise awareness of your brand.
The advantage is about timing and price. Influencers are currently under-priced, and their rates will only increase over time as more and more businesses realise that spending millions on a television advert (that we all fast forward) is a waste and could be put to far better use by investing in Facebook ads and Instagram influencers.
That is the danger.
When these big companies enter the market place, they drive up the price and force you out, that is why now is a perfect time to start using influencers instead of paid for traditional media.
So, what can Ferris Bueller teach us about using word of mouth promotion to increase awareness of what we do, and help us build our brand?
Everyone loves him.
"Oh, he's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads, they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.”
If he were a Brand, he would be very popular. People love who he is, what he stands for and he is a hit with nearly all the key demographics within his high-school. We all know that no amount of marketing will save a terrible product, so for this to be successful, you have to have a brand that people will love and want to endorse.
He has a great story, something with emotion that everybody can get behind - raising money for a sick kid. Although it starts out as a ‘fever’, he can feed the story by not denying anything and allowing the gossiping to spread like wildfire.
Freshman - How desperate is the situation?
Ferris - Did you see “Alien”? When the creature was in that guy’s stomach? It feels like that.
Freshman - Are you kidding?
Ferris - Do I sound like I’m kidding?
But how did he know how to get the story to spread?
Using people of influence.
"My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.”
Ferris deliberately targets the people who not only love to spread rumours and news, but he makes sure he reaches each demographic through strategic phone calls. He knows that their reputation within their social networks will add credibility to his own story. Once enough awareness is generated, the story starts to take on a life of its own and grows into a city wide campaign to ’Save Ferris’
So how can you apply this to your Brand?
Giving a compelling story to influential people about a great product, is a powerful combination, but for it to work fully, you need all three elements:
Although this is stating the obvious, you will need to have a great product or service. Without that, all of this is a waste of time. Any credible influencer respects their audience and will be reluctant to push or promote anything that is going to make them look bad or damage their reputation.
It’s crucial to have done all your planning, so you are prepared for every eventual outcome. It would be such a shame to be let down by shoddy customer service after a successful collaboration. It’s unfair to the influencer and your new customers.
Road-test your product thoroughly. How is your customer support if things go wrong? If it proves to be a success, can you supply the newfound demand?
What are you selling? I don’t mean the physical product but beyond that. What story are you wrapping your promotion in to make it more memorable? By having a compelling story that the influencer can share, their posts will have more substance.
What your brand enables people to do? How does it empower them? What are the knock on effects that go beyond the transactional? What are the emotional, physical, financial and spiritual benefits they receive?
Weave these features and benefits into your product narrative and brainstorm ways that your product can be used and promoted by the influencer in a way that feels authentic and organic, not forced or contrived.
Can you pair your Brand with an activity that they do, and their audience follow them for? For example, a tea brand wishing to get in front of creative people might pair with a blogger who uses it in her morning ritual to help her in her writing.
Maybe you run a hotel? You could invite the influencer to spend the weekend trying out all of the unique features - horse riding on the beach, private cooking classes, luxurious spas. By trying out all you have to offer and sharing that story, it will come across as a far more authentic and believable experience.
The final and most important part of the equation is the influencer. Who do I choose? How do I determine if they have an engaged audience? Does size matter? How much will they charge? What do I ask for? How can I check the effectiveness of the promotion?
Next week I'll be answering all of these questions as part of my free guide on using Instagram Influencers to grow your Brand.
Until then remember,
Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.