Successful marketers understand the power of traditional word-of-mouth marketing — it results in five times more sales than paid media impressions, and we all know we’re more likely to buy a product if someone we trust recommends it.
The prevalence of social media has made it common for people to express their opinions about brands on their personal accounts. Influencers are those who have established credibility when sharing information about their favorite stores, restaurants, experiences and more with their social networks, often influencing their buying decisions.
Influencer marketing is when a brand utilizes an influencer’s reach on social media to help promote their business — it’s essentially an online/social media equivalent to word-of-mouth marketing.
Because influencer marketing is driven by an online presence, it’s commonly thought that it’s only useful for ecommerce brands, and not as helpful for brick and mortar stores. Even without an online store, a brand can drive massive results from influencers and increase the number of people that walk through the door. Influencer marketing serves as a valuable tool for all brands when piecing together their digital marketing strategy.
Why Influencer Marketing?
Promoting your physical locations through social media influencers is effective for many reasons. First, influencers have established themselves as a credible source for a review of your business – sometimes more credible than online review forums. From well-known celebrities and athletes to people who are passionate about a certain product or kind of food, consumers are increasingly turning to those they admire and trust to decide what stores they shop at or restaurants they go to.
Not only are influencers trusted by their followers, they also likely cover a lot of ground when it comes to businesses they frequent, so the fact that they can choose (or be convinced) to speak out about a certain place holds a lot of power. They are in a unique position to help filter through normal advertising noise and share their favorite boutiques, cafes, gyms and everything in between with their following base.
Consumers seek to share experiences and bond with the high-profile celebrities or bloggers they follow and respect. If they can shop or dine in the same place as those influencers, they find a thread of commonality despite sometimes leading very different lives.
Influencer Marketing Strategies for Brick and Mortar Stores
There are several ways in which brands with physical stores can utilize influencers to benefit their business, even without having an ecommerce site.
Posts Promoting In-Store/On-Location Events
You can work with influencers to share information about events your store or restaurant is hosting. While you’ll do everything in your power to spread the word about a special sale or live-music night, it helps to have an influencer create online hype before an event to drive attendance, as well as after the event has concluded to make their followers aware it happened. Better yet, you can have an influencer attend your event, giving people the opportunity to meet one of their favorite people at your establishment.
Coupon Downloads for On-Location Use
Influencers can use their blogs or social channels to share exclusive coupon codes/downloads with their followers. Not only does this incentivize consumers to come into your physical location (and if you set an expiration date, get them to come in soon), but you can also track what influencer they received the coupon from – this is a great way of understanding who or what drives traffic into your store.
On-Location Social Coverage
Whether an influencer regularly vacates your store or you invite them in, one of the best ways they can help promote your business is by posting pictures, videos and live stories at your location. Bonus points if your store has something particularly “Instagrammable,” or an attractive photo/video opportunity for those who love to snap selfies or artistic content to share with their followers.
Choosing the Right Influencers
For influencer marketing to be successful, it’s important to choose influencers who will not only do an effective job promoting your brand, but also mesh with your business’s larger mission and image. Consumers tend to react more positively to promotions they see online if they feel like the person posting them really cares about the brand or store they’re sharing information about.
Approach Your Regulars
The best place to start is by finding influencers who already frequent your business. Whether you recognize the person because they’re well-known or have simply noticed they come in a lot, you should take the opportunity to ask them if they’d be interested in sharing the reasons they love your store or restaurant with their social networks. You can also identify potential influencers by seeing who has tagged themselves at your business.
Send Products and Promotions
Another great way to find influencers is by sending one of your products, a gift card or a discount to them directly. If you send them a product, you can also ask them to post about it on social media and tag your business. If you send them a gift card or promotion, it will incentivize them to come in and you can ask them to post about your business from there.
An influencer doesn’t have to have a huge number of followers to help you bring in business – anyone who is trusted, admired and has a social presence can make a difference. Brick and mortar stores can rely on anyone from loyal shoppers, to local bloggers, to notable celebrities to help market their business.
Athletes can be great influencers, especially since their recognition and reach goes beyond cultural, social and demographic boundaries. They already have a measurable, built-in fanbase and often a significant social media following, putting them in a prime position to reach consumers.
No matter how you choose your influencers or who they are, once you’ve locked them in, invite them to your business, show them around and give them a first-hand look at what you’re all about. Forming a genuine relationship with them will make their posts that much more meaningful, and their followers will be able to tell.
Influencers can have an impact on your brick and mortar business, helping reach people who you may not have otherwise and build credibility for your brand that you’ll see reflected in the number of people that walk through the door.
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