testimonials

Influencer Marketing Through Earning Influence

Influence marketing goes beyond sending your product to a blogger and includes testimonials, third-party recognition, turning critics into advocates, thought leadership blogs, storytelling and authentic acts that build a reputation

Influence marketing goes beyond sending your product to a blogger and includes testimonials, third-party recognition, turning critics into advocates, thought leadership blogs, storytelling and authentic acts that build a reputation

Influencer marketing is popular, largely because it works. However, influencer marketing involves more than just pay-to-play engagement with bloggers.

Sending products to influential bloggers to try out and then promoting their positive reviews is a successful tactic. But it isn’t the only successful tactic. There is a more organic form of leveraging influential people.

One of the most tried-and-tried forms of earned influence is the testimonial. The consumer or client giving the testimonial doesn’t have to be a so-called influential person. They have credibility because they consumed your product or retained your service.

Another form of earned influence is recognition by a third party. This could be an interview, product review or op-ed. The content is fair game to promote, which is what Chevrolet does in its ads about J.D. Power customer satisfaction ratings.

An unsuspecting form of earned influence can come from turning a critic on social media into a brand advocate. What better way to demonstrate brand value than tracking the journey of someone upset at product quality or service who is impressed by a quick reaction and fair resolution of the problem. You couldn’t pay for this conversion – or duplicate it in a pay-for-play context.

Thought leadership is a powerful, but under-utilized form of earned influence. You can turn your expertise or special knowledge into influential currency if you share it. That’s the point of thought leadership blogs or asking for opportunities to submit guest blogs.

Reputation may be the most underrated form of earned influence. A solid reputation isn’t something that can be invented, minted or inherited. Reputation, by its very nature, is something that’s earned. The arc of a reputation can take years, but it also can accrete more quickly – and regardless of age – through innovation or a principled act.

Influence is not something you can proclaim. However, you can nudge along the process of gaining influence through storytelling. The stories about your brand or you that you share – or arrange to be shared – can influence key audiences and burnish your reputation.

There isn’t a formula to achieve earned influence. Thank goodness. That gives people a lot of latitude in pursuing paths to attract interest, build trust and earn influence, whether in the marketplace or on Twitter.

Professional assistance can help in the process of influence-development. But PR pros can’t counterfeit authentic influence that flows from expertise, innovation or principled action.

If you developed the best-tasting, heart-healthy donut, by all means put it in the hands of donut bloggers and circulate their mouth-watering reviews on your social media channels. Just don’t forget there are other avenues for influence marketing, many of which have longer lasting impacts and contribute to deeper consumer loyalties.

 

Customer Service = Golden Rule of Good Business

Customer service has emerged as a critical differentiator that influences people’s choice of restaurants, banks, cell phone providers and even doctors.

Customer service has emerged as a critical differentiator that influences people’s choice of restaurants, banks, cell phone providers and even doctors.

A smiling face, attentive service and an extra-mile effort can set a business apart from its competition. Far apart. Yet, customer service isn’t always a management priority. Big mistake.

A hotel, restaurant, bank or telecommunications company can lose customers over poor, disengaged or surly service. A doctor can lose a patient or a PR firm can lose a client for the same reason.

Once upon a time, good customer service meant the customer was always right. But customer expectations have expanded. Now, good customer service relates to all touch points of the customer experience – from greeting at the door to paying the bill.

A friendly server or accommodating bank teller doesn’t guarantee a positive customer experience if a diner gets the wrong meal or a bank deposit winds up in the wrong account. A top-credentialed doctor may be bypassed by a prospective patient because of a reputation for not being empathetic.

Customer service reputations spread by word of mouth. Now they spread more quickly and more widely on social media and rating reviews. Who wants to hire a contractor who doesn’t meet deadlines or go to a restaurant with watered down drinks?

While you still may ask your tech-savvy college friend for a recommendation on a new camera, you still will check out your camera options online. Pew Research has found 40 percent of US adults almost always review online items they are looking to purchase. Another 42 percent sometimes check out prospective purchases. Virtually all Millennials check out products online. In addition to price and product features, online reviewers want to know about return policies, the quality of your customer service.

Pew also found almost 50 percent of patients searching for a doctor, whether for primary care or surgery, go online. MedData shows almost 50 percent of doctors ignore online reviews about them. Big disconnect that can put a medical reputation at risk.

The rise of online rating reviews has ironically underscored the value of the old-fashioned suggestion box. Allowing a customer to vent on a comment card gives a business owner instant feedback that might replace a nastygram on Twitter.

Online reviews include checking out business websites and profiles, which argues for including testimonials to the quality of your product – and your service. They take on even greater importance because not all online reviews are reliable – or even true. Yelp claims 127 million reviews and Angie’s List brags about 10 million verified reviews, which means there is a lot of commentary out there. Providing your own messages in the words of real customers can be informative, useful and prudent.

Testimonials, however, can’t cover up sketchy customer service. To avoid souring your reputation, take pains to stress to your employees the importance of quality customer service. The best way to show you mean business is to lead by example. If you treat your customers like gold, your employees and coworkers will notice and follow your golden rule.