Influence Marketing

An alternative to “spray and pray” or spamming!

The attempts of marketers to reach large numbers of people in the hope that some of their messages will hit home has led to an increasingly tend for all of us to ignore adverts and other marketing messages. The only ones that get attention are those that amuse us or really stand out in terms of creativity and by their very nature, these are rare and not necessarily for things that we are likely to buy.

Trying to reach everyone in your target market and hoping to hit some of them is a time consuming, money eating, ineffective way of doing things. The alternative is to identify and follow the influencers within your market place and to get their attention in the hope that they will become your advocates.

Influence marketing is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

Influence Marketing comprises four main activities:

  • Identifying influencers, and ranking them in order of importance.
  • Marketing to influencers, to increase awareness within the influencer community
  • Marketing through influencers, using influencers to increase market awareness amongst target markets
  • Marketing with influencers, turning influencers into advocates.

Targeting influencers can be seen simply as a means of amplifying marketing messages but the most useful influencer is someone who has the power to influence a purchase, not simply the power to amplify a generic message to a loosely identified group of people.

Identifying influencers

Influencers fall into five loose categories:

  • Activists: influencers get involved with their communities, political movements, charities and so on.
  • Connected: influencers have large social networks
  • Impact: influencers are looked up to and are trusted by others
  • Active minds: influencers have multiple and diverse interests
  • Trendsetters: influencers tend to be early adopters (or leavers) in markets

They can also be identified by:

  • Market Reach – the number of people an individual has the ability to connect with.
  • Independence – whether an influencer has a vested interest in promoting a particular point of view.
  • Frequency of Impact – the number of opportunities an individual has to influence buying decisions.
  • Expertise – how much of a subject matter expert is the influencer.
  • Persuasiveness - the degree of consequence in ignoring an influencer’s advice.
  • Thoroughness of role - the extent to which influence is exerted across the decision lifecycle.

Using online social media tools to identify influencers

There are several social media tools that claim to identify influencers but most are limited and some are deeply flawed. Klout, Kred and PeerIndex are the most well known and are used by some large B2C brands like airlines and hotel chains resulting in upgrades for those seen as influencers in these markets. There are many other tools but the advantage that small businesses have is that they can usually identify these influencers from their own knowledge.

“Social Influence” gets a lot of attention in the social media world and Google is giving more weight to “social liking” of web pages, blog posts and social networking posts, especially those that have a Google +1 tag.  However, the huge majority of people influence each other face to face rather than through online channels like blogs and social networks. People trust face to face friends most, with a recent survey showing 73 percent indicating near or complete trust versus just 33 percent for online friends. They may communicate with these friends on-line but they are trusted more because they are are friends in real life.

One way to reach the influencers and thereafter the wider market is through content or inbound marketing. This aims to engage, provide value and get the attention of potential customers but however great your content is it won’t reach a large number of people without some help.

Influencers may give you the key to the type of content that works best in your sector.  If they speak on specific topics it could allow you to gain a greater understanding of those topics and produce your own content with your own views.

When you produce content you will naturally post it on your website, blog, Google + page,  YouTube channel etc. However, it is important to place content in places where your customers are most likely to see it and by observing where the key influencers place their content you could get valuable clues about where to post yours.

If you choose to engage with an influencer directly you need to understand what they are currently writing and talking about, what their interests are and, over time, build a relationship such that the  influencer may choose to review your product or service which could lead to some excellent publicity and exposure.

Using this information, start to think of the influencers in your market and the routes you can use to reach them. This could include both on-line and off-line activity, from traditional press releases, events with VIP guests, samples of products to review, interviews and seeking their opinion to reading and commenting on their blog, engaging them in conversation on Twitter, liking and sharing their Facebook or G+ posts and engaging in discussions with them on LinkedIn.

Use the comments section to ask other members of the group to suggest influencers in your sector. This is a classic mastermind Group technique - you may be so close to your own business that you can’t see the wood for the trees but others can see what then becomes obvious or can set of a train of thought that leads you to the answer you need. Play with it - its amazing how it works. 

Start by saying “I’m looking for influencers ion the world of ………… ” The more specific you are the better the results.



  1. I’m looking for influencers in the area of double glazing installers. We deal with both small and large companies.

    • Jenny, I just want to clarify this a bit for the rest of the group: You sell the sealant and fixings on-line, not the windows themselves so I’m wondering if the window manufacturers have any influence on the type of sealant installers should use? Could Whizzle become a recommended supplier of the best sealant? Is there any mileage in producing guides for small builders on how to install double glazing using the sealants and fixings that you provide? Another angle might be sustainability / energy saving organisations.

  2. Ann, your 73-33 statistic is amazing! I noticed a huge spike (first time i’ve checked it - i know, silly me) in my blog readership after attending the CBL gig on 20th Nov.
    So - I’m looking for influencers in organisations - people to whom Change, Diversity, High Performing Teams & Culture (‘the way we do things here’) are important. I’d also welcome leads to groups, forums etc where I could speak on workplace issues, women in the workplace, ethics etc.
    I’ve started writing more, but it’s not all integrated yet - scattered - but talking with a couple web gurus to set up systems & teach me to handle them. Wish me luck :)

    • I’m delighted that you were able to prove that theory so quickly Zee. A note of caution on web gurus. This is an area where I’ve seen so many people get ripped off. Please get lots of opinions, lots of prices, look at sites you really like that would be appropriate for you and above all, make sure its a site that you can manage yourself. There is a world wide community dedicated to supporting WordPress because it uses open source code so it is always possible to get help free of charge and it is so flexible you can create any type of web site / blog with it. If you have any queries please come back to me.

  3. Ann, tx for response. I appreciate your warning & it reminded me to also ask for testimonials & speak to real people they’ve done work for. I also appreciate your responsiveness - I spent USD 1000 on a SM course & it really wasn’t doing anything for me :(
    I do find it irritating that every time i want to post it asks me to fill in deets all over again! Is there a work around as we’re all paid up members of this course? And can we have our mugshots too?! xx

    • Oh, thanks for the heads up on the comments issue Zee. That shouldn’t happen. Once a comment has been approved you should be able to add more comments without logging in. I’ll check it out. The mugshots can be solved by going to and adding a photo there and that will show up on most blogs etc.

  4. Hi Ann
    We’ve definitely started to realise the power of the ‘trusted voice’ which is, I assume the same thing as an influencer?
    We are wondering if we should concentrate on the campaigning aspect of what we do - getting people to change their shopping habits to support independent traders and look at who the influencers are or do it by type eg art, food, fashion, music etc and look at the local influencers in to these things. Finally, should WE work on becoming that trusted voice?

    • Anne - I was working in London on Tues & the Evening Standard had a great article about supporting local traders with some amazing stats, web portals etc. I hope you can find the article!
      I love indie shops & what would make it easier is little reviews about them, so I can target my efforts … hope this helps.

      Ann - as u can see I managed to set up mugshot, but still have to enter email etc. Tedious, but doesn’t stop me from replying :)

      • Hi Zee
        I’m wondering if your difficulty with the log in has to do with the fact that you’re using two different IP addresses - presumably from different devices? I’ll check that angle and see if there’s a way round it.

        In response to your comment for Anne Prince - have you seen the book Independent Cambridge? This is where the reviews are but I know Anne is looking at having an on-line version. More feedback on this would be appreciated.

    • Hi Anne - to answer your last point first, I think that the issue you might have in becoming a trusted voice would be that some people might think you are only promoting those businesses that appear in your book. Making it clear that you review any independent business would be the breakthrough there.I also think that a more dynamic and responsive website would help, for example, instead of a directory that just looks like an index, having a business of the week as the front page feature or a new business like Afternoon Tease featured would be great and would draw people to the website. I realise this is a different business model to the one that relies on book sales but think that it would be a great first step to help you be recognised as the “Indy Voice”.

      • Yeah, I’d definitely make more of the ‘review’ side of things. My layman’s understanding of the book was that people applied to be in it, not the other way around.

      • Thanks all - that’s really helpful. We do promote all independents (in the book or not) mainly on our facebook page and also Twitter but we are looking at redeveloping the website so these comments will be taken on board. Do you think some sort of blog would also help people to realise we arent just about promoting those in the book?

        • Hi Anne - A blog is useful for all sorts of reasons. Its great for SEO and driving traffic to your site but for you it is also an immediate publishing platform. You are a good writer so you could quickly establish your self as “the voice of the independent trader” and give your take on every event and news item that involves them as well as featuring traders who “get it” e.g., there is an app that lets market traders work together to bring people to a market rather than individual stalls.
          It will be important to design your strategy so that you have a distinct role with traders and possibly with consumers but as an advocate for the traders. Does that make sense?

  5. no, haven’t seen the book u mention.
    i log in mostly from my mac only - not iPhone. I wondered if it’s a mix up with my 2 main email ids so I’m trying with the hotmail one …

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