A Guide to Integrating Influencers Into Your Marketing Plan

A Guide to Integrating Influencers Into Your Marketing Plan

Columns - PPMA Pulse

December 13, 2021

There’s no denying that influencers are, and will remain, the new, shiny object of marketing. In fact, a recent Influencer Marketing Hub article states that influencer marketing is expected to reach a market size of $13.8 billion in 2021 — a 712 percent increase from where the market stood in 2016 and a 42 percent increase in the last year alone.

An influencer is someone who is influential in a specific domain for a specific community. If you’ve used social media within the last five years, you have likely been exposed to some form of influencer marketing.

Despite popular belief, influencer marketing is not built exclusively for big brands with even bigger pockets. In fact, small businesses are a perfect fit for this marketing method. In essence, influencer marketing is a word-of-mouth tactic that allows any size business owner to build awareness and increase sales, among other important business objectives. By leveraging local opinion leaders in their respective markets, companies can then spread the word about their business and services in an authentic and cost-effective manner.

If you’re considering working with influencers to elevate your pest control company’s marketing strategy, it’s important to consider the varying levels of influencer marketing while also bearing in mind that there are several steps to take to implement a successful program, including researching micro-influencers, determining goals and refining messaging.

WHAT IS INFLUENCER MARKETING? Influencer marketing is a means to get your company and services in front of a large, trusting audience that an established influencer has already fostered. Now more than ever, companies of all shapes and sizes are increasingly tapping nano- (1,000 to 5,000 followers) and micro-influencers (5,000 to 15,000 followers), “kidfluencers” and gaming influencers to accomplish their marketing objectives.

Local influencer marketing allows business owners to narrow in on potential buyers in a very structured and scalable way. This can be accomplished by partnering with local personalities, who can also be referred to as micro-influencers, to drive your company’s key messaging and influence purchasing decisions in your area.

These micro-influencers can include bloggers, social media personalities and other individuals who have a tight-knit base of followers predominantly based in the same city, state or region. Often, this level of influencer is widely overlooked due to their smaller audience size; however, this detail is what makes micro-influencer partnerships even more effective, as they’ve built hyper-engaged communities around a shared interest. In short, this approach is all about quality over quantity.

BUILD TRUST, INCREASE SALES. Local influencer marketing is a great way for companies to increase brand awareness and trust in their products and services and drive sales. Additionally, it’s proven to be successful in helping small businesses to attract new customers and drive engagement through branded content.

At its core, influencer marketing is based on trusted recommendations, and this tactic can increase the credibility factor of a business in its respective community. In fact, 63 percent of people trust messages from influencers more than messages from brands, according to a 2019 online survey by Edelman.

Unlike many other marketing tactics, local influencer marketing won’t break the bank. This cost-effective strategy allows small business owners to create highly relevant, authentic content for potential and existing customers. Compared to their mega-influencer counterparts, micro-influencers are affordable and tend to charge less due to their smaller social media presences.

From a business marketing perspective, it would be extremely valuable for a Chicago-based pest control company, for example, to collaborate with a micro-influencer in that same region. By identifying influencers based in the same location as your target audience, you can ensure your company’s messaging does not fall upon deaf ears. In other words, use influencer marketing to reach potential customers in your neck of the woods, rather than folks who live across the country and would have no use for your business’ products or services.

Before signing on the dotted line, companies should define their target audience, set measurable objectives and outline a clear strategy. According to Sprout Social, a brand’s message is just as important as its goal. As such, it’s imperative that companies align on objectives and messaging before launching an influencer campaign. Not only will this improve the way in which target audiences convey the company’s identity and core message, but will also ensure the marketing strategy is zipped up and bundled before launch, thus minimizing room for hiccups and discrepancies down the line.

It’s also advantageous to evaluate your list of potential influencers to identify other brands they have collaborated with and how their content performs among their followers, as well as determining their rate and how this will impact your overall budget. Typically, an ideal influencer will have substantial reach, credibility and the ability to persuade others without being too pushy or intrusive.

Collaborating with a local influencer can increase sales and expand your customer base, allowing businesses to tell their unique story in a language that will resonate with their loyal following.

CHANNEL YOUR AUTHENTICITY. At the end of the day, people trust people. Forbes reports that millennials are increasingly desensitized to traditional advertising. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that consumers won’t absorb today’s marketing strategies, it does mean companies will need to change the way they advertise their products and services. Local micro-influencers are the “secret sauce” for businesses to present themselves in a meaningful way.

I know what you’re thinking. How much can influencer marketing really impact buying behaviors? According to Hubspot Research, 53 percent of consumers in the United States discover new products and companies from their family and friends. In the era of social media, this also includes the credible influencer personalities they’ve grown to know, follow and trust.

Beyond their credibility as a trusted resource, micro-influencers are downright relatable, allowing consumers in your target audience to connect with them on a personal level. When a local micro-influencer recommends a product or service to their followers, especially after they’ve had the chance to try it firsthand, consumers tend to take their word as non-promotional. Had the recommendation come straight from the company in the form of a commercial, the consumer response would likely be different.

In today’s digital world, one can confidently predict that influencers are here to stay. Only 37.3 percent of marketing professionals worldwide currently use influencer platforms and tools, according to Inmar Intelligence. While it can be intimidating for business owners, including pest management professionals, to navigate a completely new space, there are countless tools and programs available to give them the guidance needed to launch a successful influencer program, including Sprout Social and Socially Powerful.

Business owners and marketers will be challenged to adapt to reach their target audiences and effectively cut through the metaphorical noise of saturated social media feeds. In the years to come, pest management companies far and wide will continue to dip into the untapped potential of this channel. Why? Because it works — for you and your wallet. Strategic influencer campaigns are yet another tool for your company’s marketing toolbox as you explore new ways to provide big returns without spending a pretty penny.

Cindy Mannes is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance and senior vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. For more about PPMA, visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma.