The Influence Marketing Guys were WRONG – and Then They Made it RIGHT
At this point, I am sure the authors of Influence Marketing – Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown – are saying “What the…” as their Google Alert picks up on this blog title. If they are doing sentiment analysis on blog titles, using a product like Mantis Pulse Analytics (shameless product plug there), then the initial sentiment score would be negative. That sentiment analysis would be inaccurate because I thoroughly enjoyed the book!
DISCLAIMER: I am mentioned in the Acknowledgements of this book, and Pulse Analytics is mentioned as a viable alternative in an influence marketing strategy. I count both of these gentlemen as friends; however, I am not a “homer” and I challenged them on several points as they wrote the book (how to “scale” their methodology…how to apply to B2B opportunities versus the more natural B2C scenarios…influence scoring algorithms are NOT going away).
Definition of a “homer” via the Urban Dictionary
In fact, this book mentions several competing products even more prominently than Pulse Analytics because Mantis is relatively new to the social media monitoring and sentiment analysis arena. I *am* grateful that Pulse Analytics is part of this influence marketing conversation.
So how were the Influence Marketing guys (Sam and Danny) wrong? Well, they come right out and tell the readers in the first chapter! The MV-1 Canada case study takes readers through an iterative process where the initial sales results failed to meet expectations. But here is what makes Sam and Danny special: they are willing to adapt their methodology based upon measurable results! They are then willing to share their learning curve with the readers. In fact, they invite their critics before they get to Chapter 1. They are willing to be thought leaders, debate facilitators, and opinion collectors, as they strive to develop an influence marketing methodology that is both reproducible and measurable for marketing organizations – with metrics tied to financial performance versus simply engagement and brand awareness.
Rather than give you an exhaustive book report, I am going to hit the highlights that should compel YOU to go read the book:
- In the MV-1 Canada case study, influencers “had their eyes and ears, they did not necessarily have their hearts and wallets” when it came to prospective customers. Here is another great quote from that detailed case study regarding influencers: “Their influence was one-dimensional; relationships without depth, amplification without action, and recommendation without comprehension of the audience’s need.”
- We learn how the modern “Connected Consumer” prefers pull marketing techniques. They want to research their own purchasing decisions (I know I do), and this leads to the “IKEA Effect” – they become emotionally invested in the decision because they contributed with their own labor (the research).
- Once a brand establishes “emotional resonance”, and creates true advocates, then negative scenarios are seen as “road bumps in the overall success of the business”. In fact, “true success comes from advocacy – when loyal customers refer friends”. Think about it – we will always put higher trust in recommendations from friends versus any form of paid media and interruptive advertising.
- One of my favorite stories was how the music community tried to manage the current trend when Napster was sharing copyrighted music for free. Meanwhile, Apple adapted to trend currents which in this case was observing how people changed how they wanted to consume music. So Apple created iTunes, and we ALL know how that decision turned out (CHA-CHING, Apple). The current trend is now influence scoring, but perhaps the trend current is how we should “create, manage, and measure brand influencers in the future.”
- Enjoyed the comparison between the Fisherman’s Influence Model and the Customer-Centric Influence Marketing Model.
- The Influence Marketing methodology “works backwards” from the customer versus forward from brand through influencer to the customer. In fact, the book introduces us to the concept of micro-influencers, and then shows how to “scale” these personas to develop a strategy to reach prospective customers WHEN and HOW they want to be reached in the purchasing lifecycle. This is the real “meat” of the book, and the middle chapters are devoted to exhaustively explaining the process. In addition to understanding relationships between PEOPLE, influence marketing also appreciates how situational factors, lifestyles, and perceptions provide CONTEXTUAL environments that can DISRUPT purchase decisions.
- Social influence score-based campaigns try to engage a broad audience based upon influencers’ reach and perceived influence for certain keywords – with no regard for where prospects are in the purchase lifecycle and how to move them along to the next stage in that purchase lifecycle. Throughout the book, the authors do not “hate on influence scoring”. On the contrary, they acknowledge social influence scoring can still be used to identify macro-influencers. However, additional “work” should be done to narrow the list of influencers to those who can truly impact purchase decisions due to emotional connection with the prospective buyers as they are putting out “buying signals”.
- Several of the case studies for successful influence marketing include strong social monitoring components (something near and dear to my heart due to Pulse Analytics and a belief in the power and leverage of good monitoring, measurement, and informed action). As the Influence Marketing guys point out: It helps your brand message “reach the right person with the right message at the right time”.
- Influence Marketing understands the concept of Customer Lifetime Value. In fact, Sam and Danny would like to see the word “campaign” removed from influence marketing efforts because it “suggests a beginning and end when, in fact, influence marketing is conducted along the full customer life cycle”.
- Another one of my favorite graphics was in Chapter 11 – the Customer Life Cycle Continuum. It is an elegant graphic that describes a recurring cycle of steps (versus linear steps) through Customer Acquisition and Customer Development. The goal is to get natural brand advocates providing that most powerful of brand messaging: the referral based upon personal, rewarding experience.
Influence scoring platforms will tell you I am an influencer in regards to social media, strategy, and measurement. I am not here to claim I am an influencer beyond my immediate family (which provides all the Perks I need). However, I am here to say I am an advocate for Sam Fiorella, Danny Brown, and their Influence Marketing methodology. Their continued willingness to adapt, based upon performance metrics and input from their own readers and clients, ensures the long-term viability and success of their Influence Marketing approach.
Good job, boys…but don’t let the good reviews go to your head. There is work to be done!
Photo Credit: Book Cover via Influence Marketing. No affiliate links here…remember, I’m an advocate vs an influencer.