Influencer Marketing Guide For Small Businesses

PhotographerInfluencers are people that command the attention of others. An audience.

Influencer marketing has been around for a long time. It’s when a company partners with the influencer to market to the influencer’s audience.

An example I’ve seen and have participated in is the golf world.

Tiger Woods has been sponsored by Nike since he turned pro in 1996. Tiger Woods had been an influencer in the golf world and beyond since he was a pre-teen. That grew to enormous levels as he went up the ranks in the golf world.

Nike realized it, much more than others in the golf world, and they signed him to what was probably the biggest sponsorship deal in golf history. Then they increased that deal a few short years later.

Nike understood that influencer marketing works. They did it with Michael Jordan. They bet that Tiger was the next Michael Jordan. That bet might not have paid off, but it was worth it and Tiger was the next Michael Jordan and the reward was huge.

Anyway, you don’t need to sign the next Tiger Woods to take advantage of influencer marketing. We live in a world where you can do influencer marketing on smaller levels (or bigger levels if you choose) and win.

Here is how.

1. Identify Your Audience

Before you can market to your audience you need to know your audience.

Odds are good if you’ve been in business for a little while that you have a good idea of this already. But let’s go through an easy exercise to figure it out even more.

First, bring up the full list of all your clients. If you don’t have one then create one.

You can list the name of the companies, the industries they’re in, what they sell and things like that. Then go a step deeper and list the people that you first made contact with, the person you work with now and anyone that needed to sign off on the transaction so the company could purchase from you.

Going through this exercise will give you an even better understanding of who your audience currently is. And from that you can form personas and things like that. And you can even maybe look to see if you’re reaching the people you wan to reach. If you’re not it’s a good opportunity to change.

But hey, don’t always try to dictate your audience. It’s a big deal for people to be paying you for something. Pay attention to those people and look for more people like them.

2. Identify Where Your Audience Uses Their Attention

This might include some surveying. I don’t mind surveys, but where I get more feedback is by reaching out to clients individually. Skip the formality of a survey. Do you like filling out surveys? Nobody really does. What’s in it for them?

But people will respond if you reach out personally. Email works fine. Phone calls probably work a little better. See if you can get five minutes with a client to discuss where they are spending their attention.

You can make a few assumptions and push a little. The big time takers in our lives include media. TV is a big one still. Social networking is huge.

People spend 5 hours a day on their smartphones. Of that time on smartphones, we’re spending 50% on social media. So odds are pretty good your audience’s attention is going to social media of some kind.

Ask them about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

You’ll learn a lot. Then you can do some googling too looking for where your audience is spending time. Let others do surveys for you. They usually do it by age, gender and things like that.

3. Identify The Influencers

Alright, now you know who your audience is and where they spend their time. Don’t skip these steps. It’s worth it to go through those exercises.

But once you’re done it’s time to find the influencers.

I’ve written about this subject before. It’s worth an entire post.

But here’s a quick rundown:

  • See who your audience follows
  • See who is big in your industry
  • Follow them
  • Engage with their content
  • Then look to start pitching

4. Craft Offers

Before you even start pitching, which we’ll get to next, you need to think about the offer you’re going to approach influencers with.

In this scenario the influencer has the audience. That means they have a lot of leverage. If you’re a small business this is a normal position. If you’re a larger business then it might be a bit uncomfortable.

It’s easy to say that you should switch mindsets with the influencer, but it’s a good exercise. Think about if you were them. You have 10,000 or 100,000 or a million or even more followers. That’s a big audience. You treat that audience with respect. You want to bring them value so they don’t leave you. You don’t want to push them away.

Back to Tiger Woods…you don’t think he was going to just wear any logo back in 1996? He had all the leverage. The brand needed to bring a very compelling offer.

Obviously that included the most money ever for a golf sponsorship, but it also included other elements. A brand already respected by sports fans. A team of proven professionals dedicated to sport. Tiger was really the first one to treat golf like a sport. He wanted to be compared to athletes in other sports. He didn’t want to be the best golfer. He wanted to be the best athlete. Right there with Michael Jordan and John Elway.

Nike made this entire picture part of their offer. And you can bet they thought about it before they actually made the pitch.

If you’re going to approach an influencer you need to follow them for awhile. Take in every single piece of content they share. Spend hours going through their history. Learning what makes them tick.

Then creating an offer they can’t refuse.

Again, it might include money, but usually it will include much more.

5. Pitch

Now comes the time to pitch.

Most social networks allow you to direct message people. This is one outlet. But your influencer may have an agent of some kind. Look in their profile description. Look on their website. See if there is a media contact. It might be an email or phone number.

The initial pitch doesn’t have to be the full offer. I’m sure Nike didn’t call Tiger and immediately make their full offer. They probably initially said they were interested in exploring working together. A partnership. They didn’t assume they knew what Tiger wanted although they probably had a good idea.

The big part of the pitch is getting the person to agree to communicate with you. Then it might include some questions that you ask so you can learn even more about the person. This will allow you to make your pitch even better.

And when you do make the pitch look it over one more time. Make sure you’re giving more than you receive. Whether that’s money or time or whatever. You have to make it very appealing. Obviously you want something in return, but the moment you focus too much on yourself the more you’ll turn away the influencer.

6. Repeat

You’ll get better at this each time you do it. Once you’ve done it once then go for it again. It might burn you the first time. A good first step might be to not go to the biggest influencer. Start smaller. Learn from that. Don’t blow your budget on a big name to start. Work your way up.

But don’t give up if you don’t blow the doors out with the first influencer. Learn from it. Figure out how to do it better the next time.


Influencer marketing is expected to boom in the next few years. If you’re not doing it you’re going to get lapped. The ROI is huge because it’s still underpriced to do it. If you get in now you can take advantage of the low prices before others jump in and drive the prices up.

Did you enjoy this article? Get new articles weekly.