by Teresa Dougherty
The value of referrals cannot be overstated when it comes to gaining new clients and growing your business. But, how influential are your centers of influence — those professional clients who include CPAs and attorneys?
“Influencer marketing” is more than just a trendy buzzword. Marketing your business by optimizing your influencers can be a valuable way to increase exposure and gain new clients.
Who are your influencers?
You may have reached out to clients in the past and asked them to be referrals for you. But, influencing is more than an individual endorsement. Influencers have the power to sway groups of people.
What to look for:
- Credibility. Your Influencers are individuals who others find reliable, believable and authoritative. As important, these individuals have a built-in trust with others.
- Authenticity. Your Influencers are genuine. They are individuals who are the real deal and there is an expectation that what they say is truthful and legitimate.
- Relevancy. Your Influencers are important because what they say is applicable to you. Their knowledge of who you are and what you do have meaning and significance to others.
- Your influencers have a solid following or community that is engaged.
Ultimately, your true influencers have the power to convert followers, fans, outside acquaintances and those searching for professional guidance into long-term clients.
How to connect to influencers?
- Create a top influencer list. Identify current top clients who trust you and those with whom you’ve built strong relationships. These may be individuals whom you’ve tapped in the past for referrals. Can you engage with them at a higher level? Then, incorporate the names of potential clients with whom you are forging strong relationships and with whom you suspect have strong networks.
- Check out their public profiles. From this list, do a Google search and review your target’s LinkedIn Profile, Twitter handle and Facebook page. Is your target involved in the community? A director on a board? A supporter of philanthropic ventures? These engaged individuals tend to be leaders with strong followings.
- Review their social media. Start following, connecting and linking online to your targets. How do they position themselves to followers? Read several recent posts and review your target’s followers and connections. If those targeted are influencers, they will have strong public profiles. Of note: not all influencers are “good” influencers. You may have a client who is a top corporate attorney in town and who also pens a popular cooking blog, but does that mean she would necessarily be one of your top influencers? An influencer’s credibility and relevance to your needs as a professional are more important than how many connections he or she has.
- Make it easy on them. Now that you have your top influencer list, start writing or finding content to forward. Provide your target with timely, need-to-know information that aligns with his or her audience. For example, perhaps you’ve written a blog on retirement for your website. Because you follow a targeted influencer, you suspect his audience might be interested in your commentary. Connect with your target on LinkedIn or email him directly and start building your relationship. He may forward your blog to his followers. Or, it’s tax time, and one of your targeted influencers is an accountant. Her monthly blog (which you have been reading) focuses on tax planning. Email her, letting her know you enjoy her blog and, as a financial advisor, you think she might be interested in receiving relevant financial planning information. Writers are often looking for germane content to add to their blogs. Keep in mind, you must build rapport to build trust. Building your influencer network takes time.
- Repurpose their post. Now, that your influencer has distributed your content, make sure you share such acknowledgement with your followers. Within compliance guidelines, post this recognition on your website or retweet your influencer’s tweet, letting your followers know that an influencer found your content significant. Such third-party credibility from top influencers doesn’t just broadcast your name, it enhances your brand.
- Tap to create a win-win. Your top influencers are assets to your business development and thus, must be treated that way. You’ve connected with them, shared relevant information, which they’ve posted. Cultivate that relationship by showing appreciation and reciprocating in the same way to your followers. What you are trying to do is to turn a new relationship into a formidable partnership that can grow over time, increasing your exposure to new networks. By offering information that is informative, newsworthy or inspiring to an influencer’s audience, you create a mutually beneficial best practice.
By Teresa Dougherty, strategic communications consultant