This article is the third in our series: Marketing during an economic downturn. Throughout this series, we are sharing articles that aim to guide businesses through difficult economic terrain. From handy product insights, to ideas and inspiration, we hope this series will be a valuable resource to any business looking to meet today’s challenges head on.
You’re trying to grow your business during an economic downturn. Now what? As a business owner, your resources and attention can often feel like they’re spread thin. Before you cave under the cost pressures and endless demands, step back and think about how you envision your business growing, not just now but into the future.
We have covered the basics of using email marketing as a cost-effective tactic during an economic downturn, as well as the valuable subject of loyalty programs. This article will examine a topic that many small businesses may be less familiar with: running an influencer marketing program – specifically when budget is limited.
If you were able to survive and adapt through the pandemic and all the associated challenges, there’s a good chance you’re in a great position to survive this economic downturn too. Rather than abandoning all investment in marketing and risking an even deeper slump, now is a good time to reconsider your marketing strategy and experiment with new channels and tactics.
Working with influencers to promote and grow your business has become an established marketing tactic for a range of businesses across all categories and sizes. No brand can ignore the potential reach and awareness that can be gained by connecting with the right influencer’s community, with the right message, at the right time. These are the core principles that can help you win with influencer marketing. Below, we’ll dig into some practical tips for how to explore influencer marketing during an economic downturn.
1. Identify the best suited influencer for your brand
Let’s start with a quick definition of what we mean when we talk about ‘influencers’. An influencer is a role that has been established within the social media and online publishing space in recent years. To be an influencer means having the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items – typically on social media channels like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
An influencer can be anything from an up-and-comer with a small following all the way up to the Kim Kardashians of the world with a $1.8 billion net worth. As you’d gather, there’s a wide variety of influencers doing paid work to promote brands and products for all kinds of businesses. Your job is to identify the right influencers for you.
Let’s say you own a small camping and outdoor gear retail shop and you want to reach a younger, adventurous audience. You could search for camping bloggers or Instagram influencers who have a following that aligns with your target audience, and who produce content that is relevant to your brand. Create a shortlist and begin to gather data about your preferred influencers including the followers and views they have across channels, if that is easy to find.
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2. Be transparent about compensation
Like any business relationship, there are various terms and compensation models you can choose to follow. The key here is to be clear and transparent from the outset with any influencer negotiation. Consider the following most popular options:
Monetary fee: This could be payments via direct bank transfer or through Square Invoices or even Square payment links. All of these options are simple and reliable for both the influencer and for you as the client. Monetary compensation is generally the preferred and most straightforward option. If your budget is too limited to pursue this though, you could work towards it and use one of the following alternative methods in the meantime.
Product or service compensation: Maybe instead of paying a set fee for the influencer’s work, you instead want to offer them a specific product or service as compensation for their work. This can often work well, as the influencer gets to try out and promote your products or services, and in return your business gets exposed to their audience – which could be very valuable long term.
Back to the camping and adventurer blogger example: think about what type of products you offer that would work well featured in the content they create. Or simply ask them to browse your website and pick out the items that would most appeal to them and their audience. The product compensation model is a smart way to get started with influencer marketing and can help you build some great relationships while growing your audience.
3. Refine and invest
Once you’ve been working with an influencer, or a few influencers over a series of weeks or months, it’s time to refine your strategy. Taking the time to assess what you’ve learned and how your business has benefitted from influencer marketing can help you assess what’s working well and what needs improvement.
Use analytics tools on your social media accounts or from your own tracking systems to measure the performance of your influencer campaigns. Look at metrics like engagement, traffic, and conversions to see how your campaigns are performing and spot areas for improvement. You could also measure the effectiveness of promo codes that influencers shared as part of their promotional campaign. Were sales stronger than normal during that period and can you attribute the strong performance back to the influencer marketing?
Keep testing, assessing and experimenting as you go, always remembering to stay focused on your objectives. And don’t forget that influencers are invested in your success too. If you take the time to nurture those relationships you may find that you build an enduring partnership that takes your business to the next level.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.