When business executives are asked about influencer marketing, the responses generally fall into two camps. They either believe in it or they don’t. And those that don’t usually lack an understanding of the value influencers bring to the table for a business.

In my upcoming influencer marketing book, Winfluence – Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand, I talk a fair amount about reframing influencer marketing as a discipline. But I think we can start now, before the book and its ideas come out (looking at January from Entrepreneur Press), by reframing how we describe influencers to those who need convincing.

Integrate the Idea of Deliverables from Influencers

Influencer taking a selfie

Some influencer marketing platforms refuse to call influencers by that label. IZEA, for one, almost always refers to the endpoint of the engagement as a “creator.” These people are creating content for your brand. It may be content they publish on their own channels or it could be that which you use on yours. But like a freelance photographer, graphic artist or copywriter, they are investing their time and expertise in creating something of value for you.

Add to that each brings with them an audience to consume that content — and audience your brand more than likely wants to also be in front of — and you have a double-whammy of value. You get creative product from them, plus impressions, exposure, reach and the like.

If the two sides collaborate well enough, that exposure can deliver key messages to the creator’s audience that may include any of the desired marketing outcomes: consideration, trial, purchase, or behavior change.

Focus on the Action, Not the Actor

The end result of influencer marketing has very little to do with the influencer themselves. Your brand is not engaging them so you can have more influencer. You are engaging them so that you can earn more influence. Or at least borrow their influence to convince consumer to consider trusting you for anything from perspective to product.

A central them of Winfluence, the book, and Winfluence, the influence marketing podcast (which launches Wednesday, so make sure you’re subscribed) is reframing our focus to be on the action, not the person. By doing so, we open the semantics to include far more opportunities than just people with larger social media followings. “Influencer” is a constrictive term thanks to the proliferation of content around those that have influence online. We need to pull ourselves out of that rabbit hole and realize “influence” both broadens our perspective, but also crystalizes our focus.

We want to influence, not influencer.

How to Sell Influence Marketing to the C-Suite

This subtle change in our approach — just dropping the “r” — gives us permission to talk in broader terms that are more important to business executives, owners and the C-Suite. We can now talk about influencing an audience or audience segment to consider our product. We can talk about influencing the way the public thinks about a certain issue.

We start to talk in terms of business communications and revenue-drivers. I’ve found this language to be much more persuasive with clients and marketing decision-makers. None of them will flinch when you say, “we’ll create more awareness” or “well drive more impressions.” But if you say, “We will drive more revenue,” or “We will effectively manage this issue,” they stop. They perk up. They ask for more details.

We’re trying to influence. We do so through creators who deliver assets we can use, but who can also leverage those assets themselves to drive business metrics.

Photo by Julián Gentilezza on Unsplash

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