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New quarter, new features, new insights. Our inaugural brand summit kicked off with a focus on the new – particularly, the new challenges taking up marketers’ time and headspace that we can anticipate as we turn our attention to 2018.

This upcoming year is particularly exciting because we’re seeing – and experiencing first hand – the maturation of the influencer marketing industry. Influencer marketing is evolving from standalone tactic to comprehensive strategy, one that much like social media a decade ago, is touching nearly every single function of a brand’s business.  

We asked our audience to share the three biggest challenges they’re facing across the different marketing phases and disciplines they’re leading, with the goal of identifying new opportunities for influencers to help solve these problems throughout the marketing process.

Universally, we all want more resources – more budget, more time, more talent. As we discussed in our  2018 Influencer Marketing & Relations Trends Report, influencers, by definition, have such rich knowledge, that not including them at the point of research, ideation, strategy and planning, is a significant missed opportunity. As brands and modern business leaders alike struggle for resources, as well as to remain influential and trustworthy themselves, not inviting the influencers who are influencing your target audiences into the marketing process is lost business insight.

This is what we learned.

Biggest Marketing Challenges

  • Getting the right people in the room
  • Bad data – biased the reporting & insights
  • Too slow
Influencer Marketing & Relations Solutions:

  • Use influencers as a focus group for strategy & idea validation
  • Influencers closest to your core consumer can help build out a more realistic POV, with greater authenticity
  • Develop an always-on influencer panel that’s readily accessible to share insights and feedback

Key takeaways: Issues and problems in the research phase of a marketing campaign or strategy tend to have a snowball effect – bad data leads to inaccurate insights, which leads to out-of-touch creative (cough, Pepsi), to poor targeting and media distribution (whether you reach your target audience or not), to measurement that – whether it performs, or not, doesn’t really matter because your whole strategy was compromised from the start.

Metaphorically speaking – if someone gives you a map of Chicago and tells you it’s New York City – you could plan your entire trip, take amazing photos, and tour all around the city – but you’re never getting to the Empire State Building.

Phase: Strategy & Planning

Biggest Marketing Challenges

  • Understanding the target customer, lack of data access and alignment internally, and with partners (i.e. retailers)
  • Disruption and time-to-market
  • Working at a global capacity with consistent messaging aligned to brand guidelines
Influencer Marketing & Relations Solutions:

  • Invite influencers to get involved in the planning stages – their audience is your audience, leverage their knowledge for ideation and feedback
  • Layer influencers as a key persona on top of your existing target personas to validate plans, documenting what influences influencers and target customers at different points of the customer decision journey
  • Tap into influencers to help create and translate creative concepts and briefs

Key takeaways: Influencers have such rich knowledge and insight about your target customer base that not including them in the strategy and planning process, in the least, to validate insights, ideate, and provide feedback is a missed opportunity. From a global perspective, economic leaders, like China, don’t even use the same social networks, and even the most universal message has nuances between regions, let alone countries. Designated market influencers can help translate and apply your insights into country- and region-specific briefs to bring your strategy to life.

Phase: Creative & Content

Biggest Marketing Challenges

  • Brand alignment:
    • Staying on brand, and balancing branding with authenticity
    • Boardroom standards of ‘on brand content’
  • Speed and volume to develop content
  • Staying relevant while also managing long iterations, multiple revisions, and (sometimes) legal
Influencer Marketing & Relations Solutions:

  • Source influencers from your existing customer base – they already have authentic brand experiences to share. Their first-person perspective offers a breadth of brand experience stories and can help humanize boardroom perceptions.
  • Micro-influencers are cost-effective content generators, able to produce quality content at scale
  • Influencers can help co-develop relevant, pre-approved content themes, based on culture, what’s trending and how it relates to products

Key takeaways: The most valuable, underused marketing asset you have are influencers who already exist among your customer base – who understand the nuances of your brand and what resonates with your shared audiences. At a time where authenticity rules above all, even when the business of content seems to demand unrelenting volume and variety, bringing influencers’ perspectives and brand experiences to life across content formats and channels serves you significantly more than just checking off the spec sheet box.

Phase: Media & Distribution

Biggest Marketing Challenges

  • Finding the ‘whitespace’ among the competition
  • No guarantee that it will reach the right people
  • Determining the right ‘mix’, and keeping a pulse on emerging channels
Influencer Marketing & Relations Solutions:

  • Use influencers to help with competitive insights – where are they building an audience where you (or your competitors) are not?
  • Map influencers to your distribution strategy to distribute to the right market & channels
  • Repurpose & amplify high impact influencer-generated content on owned and paid channels
  • Connect regularly with influencers to explore and test emerging channels

Key takeaways: Influencers can be instrumental in breaking down barriers – or building bridges – to find new consumers while keeping their current audience engaged. They’re often on emerging channels before paid media is even available. And where trust between brands and consumers, as well as brands and platforms, remains an issues – influencers also help mitigate risk. High-performing influencer-generated content should be repurposed across owned and paid channels. For global brands, they can also help foster alignment and empathy in international markets.

Phase: Measurement

Biggest Marketing Challenges

  • Attribution beyond last-click, and measuring the metrics that matter
  • Clean data, or lack of access
  • Time consuming tests & experiments
Influencer Marketing & Relations Solutions:

  • Tracking and measuring each point on customer journey through influencer interactions for full funnel measurement
  • Data is coming from a person – leverage technology partner to unify social, influencer, POS, loyalty data
  • Test baked campaign concepts with influencer panel first indicate performance with the masses. Establishing benchmarks requires campaigns longer than 4 – 12 weeks, so consider adopting an always-on strategy.

Key takeaways: You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Full funnel attribution requires influencer marketing technology that can be embedded across your existing customer journey and brand assets, as well as able to manage and track influencer interactions from first touch to conversion. As influencer relationships continue to evolve over time, share of influencer voice will become an indicator of competitive advantage and market share, with the new calculation of customer lifetime value augmented to include how many new customers that customer is able to convert.