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Influencing the influencers

Tips for building well-informed, brand-loyal influencers out in the field.

When you’re considering what influences your consumer, do not ignore WHO influences your consumer. Quite often (probably more often than you’d care to admit) the key influencer is the man or woman on the front lines. I’ll discuss four ways you can keep this important link in the sales chain educated and loyal.

Definition of a home product influencer
No, I’m not talking about Kim Kardashian on Snapchat (although celebrity influencer marketing is big business). I’m talking about dealers and their sales/service force. I’m talking about technicians, installers, estimators, remodelers, interior designers, contractors—anyone who works in the home products and services category and is seen as a trusted source for recommendations on what to buy.

I’ve been a homeowner for about 15 years and have had my share of large non-DIY purchases: HVAC (twice!), bathroom remodel, basement waterproofing, basement finish, new roof (twice!), new siding, landscaping, carpet replacement, etc.

A few were planned purchases, but many of them were emergency replacements—the stuff of homeowner nightmares. But regardless of the circumstances, the service provider/installer in my home was consistently a strong influence on my purchase decision.

In most cases, I didn’t care about brand. I cared about 1) getting back to normal and 2) price. A product recommendation from a perceived “authority”—especially if she/he was confident and came across as knowledgeable—was worth a lot.

Take my anecdotal evidence with a grain of salt, but my experience is not isolated.

According to a UK report on bathroom purchase behavior, installer recommendation was the third highest purchase influencer—just below “house style” and “price offers.”

Influence No. 3: Installer Recommendation
Although not necessarily considered a primary influence in the design and planning stage, it would appear that guidance from a plumber or installer represents a reassuring element at the purchase stage.  Input from a plumber or installer at the purchase stage was considered more influential than input from sales staff in retail outlets. (1)

92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.(2)

A 2016 nationwide study from Experticity, entitled The Power of Influencers Quantified, revealed that influencers were seen as more impactful compared to an average person: more credible and believable (94% vs. 83%), more knowledgeable (94% vs. 84%) and better at explaining how the product works or could be used (92% vs. 83%)(3) 

As a marketer, the influencer demands your consideration. Your team can execute the most powerful brand strategy and marketing plan known to mankind and STILL lose the sale because you didn’t reach the most influential voice at the time of purchase.

4 ways to focus marketing efforts on influencers.

 

#1. Create sharable content

From product videos to infographics to images of applications, sharable content is incredibly helpful and valuable to influencers. You scratch their backs. They’ll scratch yours. When you help make their sales pitch easy, you can build brand credibility. In addition, this content—which you control—becomes part of their arsenal. WARNING: don’t make it overly sales-y or heavily branded. If the content has an air of neutrality, influencers will be more comfortable using it for their own purposes.

#2 Invest in the Voice of the Consumer

This is the critical foundation for any influencer strategy. Voice of the Consumer (VoC) is a market research technique that focuses on customer needs, expectations, aversions, behavior, etc. This data will allow you to personalize marketing tactics and messaging to provide a richer interaction between your brand and the influencer—including insights into the consumer that will help you build trust with the influencer.

#3 Take a fresh look at channel loyalty/incentive/rewards programs

These programs have come a long way over the last decade. Traditionally, they primarily rewarded transactions and had a one-size-fits-all approach. Today, they can be built around data so you can develop, optimize and scale programs based on personalized experiences and the entire sales cycle. From training and survey participation to testimonials and social activity, you can incentivize influencers to engage with your brand in deep and mutually beneficial ways.

More than three-fourths of channel representatives, managers, and owners believe manufacturer incentive programs greatly influence their interest in and desire to sell their brands. (4)

    

#4 Personalize and localize

Influencers must feel they matter to your brand, so communications should feature elements of hyper relevancy. You can do this in relatively simple ways:

  • Customized emails to the influencer (name, logo, weather, etc.)
  • Regional/local updates on promotions
  • Acknowledgments to individuals/companies on social channels, newsletters, partner web portals
  • Customizable sales tools (digital and/or print) allowing influencers to add their logo, edit promotions, feature products, etc.
  • One-on-one consultation opportunities (in person or by video chat) can provide unique value

What’s the next step?

Start with identifying your influencers. We can help. Our Audience Segmentation, Persona and Customer Experience offerings can affirm influencer identities, motivations and how they can experience the brand. From there, we can propose a marketing plan to leverage the insight. Fill out the contact form down below!

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