Have you ever stopped to think who influences your clients' decisions? You should, because you’ll gain valuable insight into the types of people who are probably influencing their marketing targets, too. In other words, you’ll uncover some practical content marketing tips.
Influencers can come from any number of external sources, but let’s look at internal influencers – those who work with the primary marketing audience. These people hold a golden key to marketing success, because even if primary target holds final purchasing authority, they aren’t deciding in a vacuum.
But how on earth are you going to reach these elusive influencers, to enlist their overt and/or subconscious support? Here are four content marketing tips that should help:
1. Understand how influence works.
A person can wield influence because of their knowledge and experience, position of authority, a personal relationship or simply their ability to communicate well. So some internal influencers are rather obvious, whereas others can be far more subtle. They could be anyone from the receptionist to the CEO.
You have to analyze your audience’s working environment. What is your target’s formal decision-making process? Do they have to get formal approval from upper managers or the C-suite? If your target is a C-level executive, which managers or line staff have their ear when it comes to your products or services?
Thankfully, if you’re selling to a niche market, it should be easier to detect patterns among your audience that will, in turn, reveal effective content marketing tips to reach them. If you’re visually inclined, you can even create a map or chart that shows internal patterns of influence that affect your target audience.
But your audience’s buying stage matters, too. Some “influencer watchers” suggest that internal influence doesn’t kick in until the winnowing process begins in mid-funnel – narrowing product or vendor options to reach that final buying decision. I would suggest that it depends on what you’re selling, because internal influencers could easily identify a “new need” your target didn’t know existed, putting your target in an initial search position.
Some internal influencers aren’t co-workers, although they are colleagues. Think legal, accounting or other outsourced professionals. Or consultants, contracted to perform a specific project. These people can have enormous influence, because they’re expected to provide knowledgeable, authoritative advice. If you’re selling something they could be referring to their own clients -- your targets -- these folks are must-have advocates.
2. Create influencer personas.
Just as you do for primary targets, creating personas for key types of internal influencers forces you to think about who they are. What’s their role – financial, customer service, end-users? What motivates them? Who influences them?
Concentrate on the two or three most significant personas. What types of content – both topics and formats -- and which delivery platforms do they prefer? You can market directly to them, and you can ultimately turn them into staunch advocates for your company and products or services.
3. Create content directly aimed at key influencer types.
Content marketing tips to reach these folks come down to one thing: tailored targeting. You can use your online analytics to track topics and conversational patterns, to see which content and platforms are paying off in ways that match your strategic goals.
Identify your internal influencers’ social media groups and communities. Join and participate, to build awareness and trust. Engage them directly, to build personal relationships as you would with primary targets. Create a newsletter or blog articles specifically aimed at a group of influencers -- for instance, product users -- to provide ongoing tips that help them be more productive or make their work easier.
You’ll definitely make friends.
4. Try my favorite among content marketing tips: ASK them.
What better question to pose to your clients' target audience than “Who influences decisions in your company regarding (our product/service)?” Ask about the official decision-making chain but also about informal discussions around the water cooler, at lunch, etc.
Strategically speaking, this kind of conversation goes to the heart of engagement with the target audience. And we all know that one of the greatest benefits of social media can be the input you receive from prospects and customers that helps your clients refine their product line or create new offerings.
Why not let them provide content marketing tips to reach their influencers as well?