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20 Powerful Influencer Marketing Tools

There’s no doubt, influencer marketing is a hot topic, and it can get you business results.

Influencer Marketing one of the most searched for types of marketing in Google, behind social marketing and content marketing.

Technically, it’s both social marketing and content marketing, because influencers usually use social and content to connect with their audiences and to market.

So, in case you’re new to this, what IS influencer marketing, exactly?

Influencer marketing is when an organization leverages an influencer and their audience to create new customers.

Gallup’s research has found that companies with highly engaged customers achieve up to:

  • 50% – 51% more sales
  • 27% – 34% higher profitability

[References: 1, 2, 3.]

And the beautiful thing about the audiences of influencers is that they’re often highly engaged.

Influencer marketing lends that engagement to your brand, transferring that sales and profit potential as well.

In this article, we’ll look at a few case studies and cover some of the most effective tools for:

  • Finding and qualifying the influencers who drive conversations in your niche
  • Cultivating one-on-one relationships with them
  • Managing influencer marketing campaigns
  • Measuring and reporting on your results

Tools for Finding and Qualifying the Right Influencers for Your Brand

Some of the best tools out there for finding influencers include:

  • Buzzsumo: a geeky but extremely powerful search tool for looking through the web and social media for bloggers, twitterers and even journalists. This is where I’d start if I wanted to find someone unique and create an exclusive relationship with them.
  • Tomoson: search through over 90,000 influencers or just post your opportunity to get micro-influencers to post in social media about your stuff. This is my favorite if you just want a bunch of social media people to try and talk about your product. But it doesn’t have everybody in it, and it’s not going to create a custom exclusive relationship with your brand. These influencers are guns for hire.
  • Famebit: if you want to find video creators and influencers, this one is now owned by YouTube and going strong.
  • Heepsy: similar to Tomoson, but a lower monthly fee.
  • Klear: with an influencer search engine and database, it’s not CLEAR how Klear is different, and they CLEARLY want to sell you at a higher unknown price tag through salespeople… so if you’re a bigger brand, check them out, but if you’re a small business, probably not for you.
  • Upfluence: an all-in-one solution for finding, managing and tracking ROI, Upfluence is also another solution like Klear that requires you go through a salesperson, so expect a hefty price tag.

You’ll see when you review these tools that there are really two major ways to go:

  1. Find a non-exclusive influencer who’s joined a marketplace of influencers and is probably promoting other companies too. You do this with platforms like Tomoson, Famebit, Heepsy, Klear, or Upfluence.
  2. Find an influencer on your own who may not do it very often, and may end up being exclusive to you, whether that’s intentional or not. You do this with tools like Buzzsumo.

Leverage Influencers To Find New Enthusiastic Buyers.

There are bloggers, YouTubers and other social media influencers out there who already have big influence with audiences of people that include your future customers.

Brendan Bauer of Grand Fusion Housewares told me how lucky he was to have found an influencer that has boosted their sales. He found this blogger on his own, outside of an influencer marketplace. She had access to 40,000 of his potential customers. They simply donated a product (12 of the same product) as a giveaway and paid her $150, and their Amazon sales went crazy.

But influencer marketing doesn’t have to be the prototypical expert/microceleb with zero connection to your brand…

When Are Customers The Best Influencers?

Peachdish, an Atlanta-based meal-kit company, has leveraged their own best customers to create their Ambassador program. Peachdish also uses an always-running Instagram contest where you might win a free meal just for posting a picture of your latest Peachdish meal on Instagram using their #peachdishmeal hashtag.

Full disclosure: my wife and I are Peachdish customers, and I’m in their Ambassador program, but Peachdish forbids people us from using any custom links to promote them- so nothing in here is benefiting me. We just love their stuff.

As customer experience and sales manager Michael Milich says, “The Peachdish Ambassador program has been successful as our Ambassadors genuinely love PeachDish. The majority of received over a year’s worth of PeachDish boxes (52+ weeks). So far, we’ve discovered those influencers with a connection to food and/or wellness are the most successful. It’s a bit tricky, because the the goal is to find customers who want a deeper connection with a brand, rather than just a giveaway or first-time discount. Overall, just giving a discount or something for free is not a guaranteed way to create those long-term relationships we want with a subscription business.”

In this case, the best tools they had for finding and qualifying the right influencers were:

  • Their own customer records
  • Instagram activity on their hashtags

I’m really tempted to write a cheezy play on “outside the (meal) box” here, but as you know, I’m better than that. Let’s move on.

Using Facebook Data to Verify That A Celebrity Influencer’s Audience Matches Your Customers

Some tools you might not have thought of for checking out potential influencers are

  • The Facebook ad platform and
  • The Facebook Audience Insights tool.

If the prospective influencer is very popular and/or has a Facebook page, you can find some interesting data out about them there.

A franchised fitness client of ours wanted to pilot a celebrity sponsorship and see if it helped them grow their business.

They considered who their customers were (mainly women over 50 years old) and asked themselves, “Who would be an influential celebrity we could hire that our audience would love?”

When they settled on a British actress (whose name I have to keep private, since the pilot has not even yet begun), we immediately started looking at audience information about her in Facebook.

“Who are this woman’s fans?” we were asking Facebook.

Here’s what we found:

And that was good news:

  • Her audience is 85% women, which matches our client’s customers.
  • She is liked more than average in the 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ age groups, which again matches our client’s customers.

In fact, when we selected some of the states that our client has the most franchise locations in, the match was even stronger.

Facebook Audience Insights will also give you an idea how many active users are fans of that person, and the Facebook ad tool will give you targeting numbers as well (when you go to create an ad targeting that influencer) if you want to double check it.

Tools for Cultivating One-on-One Relationships with Influencers

Creating relationships with influencers doesn’t always require extra tools.

When you do want to build a relationship, it’s really important to not get so lost in tools and technology and forget some of the most basic things about relationship building:

  • You have to connect
  • It takes time
  • You have to personalize to each person
  • You have to listen
  • You have to be empathetic

Tools can’t replace all of those activities. Sometimes you can damage a relationship by trying to use tools instead of creating the intimacy required to build strong relationships.

Not every influencer relationship is going to require hours of one-on-one conversation, but some of the most important relationships will merit at least a few emails or phone calls.

You’re going to need emotionally intelligent people managing that part of the process, or you’ll offend and scare off important influencers.

The tools you’re going to use to cultivate influencer relationships include:

  • The tools above you used to find influencers, if they contain messaging components, or they are all-in-one solutions.
  • Direct messages within social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Email and Phone
  • GoToMeeting, Zoom, Facetime, Skype and other remote video solutions that allow for more personal meetings
  • Google Sheets or any other collaborative documents you use to organize campaigns.

And of course, make sure you have good influencer marketing contracts.

Tools for Managing Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Again, some of what you need for managing the campaigns may be within the same platform you used to find the influencers.

If not, you may want something like AspireIQ (formerly Revfluence), which is an Influencer Relationship Management platform… like a CRM teamed up with an analytics platform.

Tools for Measuring and Reporting on Influencer Marketing Campaign Results

The all-in-one solutions we’ve mentioned will give you some reporting and measurement already.

However, they may or may not have anything for measuring ROI. Some of the platforms are entirely focused on top-of-funnel metrics like reach or engagement.

Again, you may want to add something like AspireIQ to help you automate your tracking, but make sure it’s compatible with the influencer platform you’re using.

You may be able to get the influencer to use a custom analytics URL (e.g. using the Google Analytics URL Builder) that will help you see in your analytics where your results are coming from.

Conclusion: Your Best Toolset

One thing is clear about influencer marketing and the tools: it’s complicated!

Every situation is going to be different, and you’re going to need a slightly different set of tools to accomplish your influencer marketing goals, depending on how you proceed and which platforms you use.

So, if you’re not clear what you need or if you’re covering all your bases (finding all the influencers out there and tracking results accurately), then you may want to reach out to a consultant or agency to to create a plan or review everything before you get started.

How NOT to Connect with Influencers on Facebook

I get a ton of Facebook friend requests. I already have more than 99,000 public followers and 3,500 friends. There’s a 5,000 friend limit, so I can’t friend everybody, and there are dozens of people from around the world that request my friendship per day. I’ve already written about this in The Biggest Networking Mistake Everyone is Making on Facebook… subsequent to that I did get one personal message explaining why someone wanted to connect with me, but it really didn’t do a great job of explaining why I should connect to them. I didn’t want to be a jerk about it with my answer but I also didn’t want to ignore it, so here was my answer:

Hey I don’t want to ignore your message- I’m going to be completely transparent- the key questions you to answer for somebody like me are:

  • “What do you want from me?”
  • “Why do you want my Facebook friendship?”
  • “What do you have to offer me?”
  • “Why do you need Facebook friendship to do that?”

So far you told me you’re in social media and inbound marketing which is awesome but there are thousands of people in that- and actually there are probably 50,000-100,000 of them internationally and since I can only have 5,000 facebook friends, I can’t connect with everyone who requests me on Facebook, so to be honest you have to do a better job of standing out and connecting- which is a great marketing lesson and networking lesson- what do you and I have in common and how can you evoke emotions around that in your message? You could use graph search to figure that out- I tell you that so you could apply it to networking with not just me but other influencers too.

It’s much more effective to friend someone on Facebook AFTER interacting with them somehow- in message comments or private messages or on the phone or LinkedIn or some other social network or in person… the absolute best way is when you know you’ve made an emotional connection already- you talked about your kids or pets or you shared a joke or a hobby. Then a Facebook connection makes sense. Sometimes people will connect without that, just on a business basis, but there’s a chance they won’t.

But to be  stranger and completely unknown and friend request without a message- you’re going to get ignored. If you do message an influencer, make sure you answer the questions above.

How Not to Suck at Live Video

Here’s the problem with LIVE VIDEO, which yes is a huge opportunity for those who use it well:

Most live Facebook videos I see make me say, “Ah, well that’s why you’re not on real TV…”

Be careful that, with your broadcast, you’re not saying to everyone, “My narcissism makes me believe that OF COURSE you will want to watch me now that I can broadcast to anyone! Why? Because it’s ME!!!”

And make sure you pay attention to how long people watch- video retention time is the most important metric and the biggest reality check. People DO NOT watch your entire videos.

Here’s the problem with live video:

  • Most people are not interesting enough, or
  • Trained on being on camera, or
  • Have any on camera experience.
  • And if they don’t care whether they’re interesting, then they’ll never fix any of that.

Yes, you’ll easily get a small number of people with a ton of time on their hands who love you who will watch, but if you want to reach more than say 5,000 or 10,000 people, you need to heed this…

There’s actually a whole industry for quality video- two in fact- TV and movies. And if you hadn’t noticed, it’s not easy to succeed in them.

The whole local news anchor trying to become a national news anchor thing… it’s tough.

Moving to L.A. and struggling to get into the movie business. The struggle is real. It’s hard. A lot of people never make it.

Why? Because even people who get on air or get into movies don’t all succeed.

Why? Because you have to be extremely likeable and talented to rise to the top.

The fact that you can broadcast is not some magical thing.

You still have to be interesting.

More interesting than the video of people snuggling with elephants that’s below you in the newsfeed, more interesting than the trending news about the new movie trailer that I want to watch.

This is why I think edited video is better than live video: edited video is shorter and quicker and it respects the viewer’s time and attention. It cuts from one shot to another every few seconds. It’s interesting.

If you do live video…

  • Do something that grabs attention, on purpose.
  • Re-grab attention every 30 seconds, on purpose.
  • Deliver value and tell them what that value is and why they should care and what it will help them with.
  • Continues to deliver value and make sure they know what it is every minute.
  • Be a pretty charismatic individual.
  • Try adding sexy people, funny people or explosions.

One of the few compliments I’ll give Gary V is that he is very attention-grabbing.

But not everyone naturally is.

If you’re not an extrovert from New Jersey who’s constantly dropping F-bombs (which is not only inappropriate for most of us, but I agree with Seinfeld: it’s cheating), you’d better be interesting in some other way.

So:

  • Why should I watch?
  • Why are you interesting?
  • Why is what you’re saying valuable?
  • How are you entertaining?
  • Are you making eye contact?
  • Are you smiling?
  • Are you likeable?
  • Are you engaging?

Be honest with yourself (your best friends won’t be, because a lot of times people think being supportive means being positive even when that means lying).

If you aren’t getting big engagement and views, you might need to make some changes.

  • Try improv
  • Try stand up comedy
  • Try toastmasters

All three of those will make you better.

Everyone starts somewhere, and you can get better.

The point is, realize where you really are at, and work at getting better!

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Duped By Internet Con-Men

Not all con-men are obvious.

Some of them are quite successful and well-regarded.

But they’re still con-men.

The best con-men… you’d never think of them as one. You’d never consider it. They go by different labels.

Some con-men call themselves authors, teachers, marketers, salespeople and speakers.

I once almost got sucked into a cult.

I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on online courses.

How about you?

Have you ever let someone’s confidence and big promises open your wallet and waste your time and money?

There are a lot of con-men in online marketing

Not surprising, is it?

Marketers love being persuasive and learning more about influence.

Some well-known teachers and authors are actually con-men.

They make big promises, take your money and you don’t end up with much in return.

People who are taken in by con-men feel hopeful and motivated for a while.

Hope can be valuable. Who wants to be depressed?

But the con-man’s promised future never materializes.

His system or tool or strategy doesn’t yield the big changes in your life or business that got you all excited.

Even if the con-man helps you make some progress, it’s not to the degree they promised.

Maybe they said you could become a millionaire but you barely broke even with their plan. In fact, considering what you spent, you’re in the hole!

Maybe they offered you a magical new tool that was supposed to solve all your problems, and then you found out it wasn’t that simple. You needed training, or experience or had to hire someone to help you do it.

Maybe you didn’t take action, plus now you have credit card debt from buying it! You might blame yourself for your inaction. That guilt and fear is why many people don’t ask for refunds. But maybe you didn’t take action because you knew deep down there was something wrong with the training.

So how widespread is the con?

What I discovered

I’m a searcher.

For the last two decades, in order to learn what really works online and what doesn’t, I’ve been…

  • Exploring and trying things
  • Taking courses
  • Reading books
  • Doing experiments, and
  • Analyzing the results.

I always share what I’ve learned with my readers, podcast listeners and keynote audiences.

I naturally love learning and testing things out, and I keep discovering:

There are tons of BS, myths, lies, and things that just simply don’t work.

In fact,

There are more things that don’t work than things that do.

That’s why I keep testing everything to see what really works.

One of the topics that keeps coming up for me is con-men…

I believe that:

Con-men are one of the most destructive forces in the marketing and sales world.

Con-men can be women, too, but what should we call them: “con people?”

Con people? You mean inmates?

They should be inmates!

But more often, many of them continue to steal money from unsuspecting business people without any real consequence.

The con-man can turn their criminal past into a selling point.

Even con-men who’ve been fined by the Federal Trade Commission just get smarter about how to bend the rules. They continue to fool a lot of people.

In fact, your con-man may be totally upfront about their FTC fines and use it to persuade you even more!

People who are aware of a con-man’s shady past make two common mistakes:

Mistake #1: Being too forgiving. “They’ve changed! Let’s give them a chance.”

Mistake #2: Thinking they can get something from the con-man without being the bigger loser. “I’m smart enough to play with fire without getting burned!”

Wrong.

What is a cult of personality?

I know about cons personally, because I almost got sucked into a cult in my early twenties. It was a very disorienting experience.

It led me to study cults and con-men, so that I could understand how I had almost been convinced, and arm myself against that kind of thing repeating in the future.

I thought this experience had totally immunized me against con-men.

I became extremely skeptical about people who have magnetic personalities and are naturally persuasive.

And by the way,  charisma is a gift.

But charisma, likability and influence are powers that can be abused, and often are, by those who have them.

What’s stopping from abusing their power? Everyone is telling them they’re awesome!

A cult of personality is when someone uses things like mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, and the arts to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

We have all kinds of heroes. We love heroes.

We want to see people rise. We want to follow great people.

But the “cult” personality and the con-man is a lie.

For me personally, it turned out that the near-cult-experience was not enough to immunize me to con-men.

The online course con.

I ended up buying a couple of those $1,000 online courses when I started my new freelance business in 2010 (what eventually became my agency, BCG).

I was in a vulnerable place, because I had been let go from a great job, and I was afraid I might not make it solo.

I got sucked in by con-man confidence and promises.

It turned out to be a complete waste of money. The teaching wasn’t bad, but the strategies were not nearly as effective as the teachers promised.

Now, don’t get me wrong- there are some super useful courses out there and many teachers with great integrity.

But

Some of the big names in internet marketing courses are con-men who are better at selling the promise of value than actually delivering it.

Still, finding out those two courses were lame was not enough for me to fully learn the lesson.

“I’ll show you how to get what you want- first just compromise your morals a little.”

A year or two later, I bought a course that promised to teach how to get high-paying clients.

Once I got it and started learning, I realized that the guy’s system could plausibly work… if you were ok with lying to people!

I wasn’t comfortable with it at all. I asked for and received a refund.

“Turn your life story into a lie.”

I’ve been in this online marketing world for 18 years now, and I’ve seen a lot of gurus, authors, speakers, marketers and teachers come and go.

And some who should go who, shockingly, continue to stick around.

I’ve actually saw a video where a guy was teaching marketers how to be better liars…

He was a storytelling expert who has great information. I had a ton of respect for his story structure expertise.

But he was recommending that marketers outright LIE about their personal stories to increase the sales impact.

At that point I lost all respect for him.

Why are con-men successful?

I’ve seen con-men

  • Get complained about online,
  • Reported to the Better Business Bureau,
  • Exposed in blog posts…

Yet they keep going, lying and successfully making money because:

Con men leverage our weakness for confidence.

“How could they be so confident if they weren’t genuine?”
They’re super confident and we love confident people.
But the best liars are extremely confident.
Any the mac daddy version of this is the con-man who sells courses to help you become more confident…

There are a lot of gullible rookies.

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
There are 6 million new small businesses created in the U.S. each year.
These rookie business owners don’t have the experience to avoid getting suckered.

Some people are addicted…

“This time is different.”
Some people just don’t learn from getting suckered over and over again.
Just like gambling addicts, they’re addicted to cults of personality.

The three things are the main reasons con-men keep making money online.

Con-men in the marketing world

I’ve seen con-men get published by the big publishing houses. I’ve seen them get chosen as speakers at big conferences. I’ve seen them claim to make millions.

I had some of my own research and work stolen by a fairly well-respected social media author. He talked about my research in his book without giving me any credit whatsoever. And when I confronted the guy, he had absolutely no remorse. He wasn’t willing to change anything to make it right. And he said that my confronting him about it was “annoying.” I found out later from a friend in the business that this same guy has stolen multiple people’s work. This is his modus operandi. Instead of following the responsible academic method of giving credit where credit is due, he played fast and loose with other people’s work for his own gain. This is a guy that many people respect, and nobody knows his true character. He’s built his reputation up by stealing other people’s work and accomplishments. It’s dishonest and unfair, but he still does well.

Another guy was exposed by multiple bloggers for being a fraud. He said it was a misunderstanding. Of course, they will always say they did nothing wrong. He started several businesses and took their money and never did the work for it. He built his company with workers who were young, insecure, gullible and cheap, if not free. Clearly, he had not changed his stripes. Still, a large conference was charmed by the guy and not only had him speak but recommended him to me as an authority. I felt I couldn’t bad-mouth the guy even though the conference was being suckered by a con-man. It is amazing how our sense of decency keeps us from warning others about bad eggs.

How do you stop a con man?

It’s tough. If you want to be the cranky guy who is calling everybody else out, yeah, try that.

Maybe people won’t dismiss you for just being “negative.”

That might work out. Or you could get sued for libel.

People may not believe you.

Once someone is “big” and respected by a lot of people, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Politicians exploit this all the time. If they are confident and deny all accusations, then the people that want to believe in them will defend them.

It’s he-said-she-said, and you have to choose who to trust, and typically, we trust people who have authority and confidence.

However…

  • Their confidence may come from narcissism. They may be a sociopath. Many sociopaths are charming.
  • Their authority may be a house of lies. Is anyone checking it? And again, we get into a he-said-she-said, and people take sides.

Why do we fall for it?

  • If they’re attractive
  • If they’re rich
  • If they’re successful
  • If they’re tall
  • If they’re likable
  • If we think they will help us reach our dreams
  • If we’ve invested money in them and we’re embarrassed to admit we made a mistake…

…then we stand by our favorite con-men. We’re complicit in their lying and stealing.

That’s why this is such a sticky problem.

Cons work, we get sucked in, and con-men aren’t being stopped.

That’s why I made this list…

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Duped By Internet Con-Men

#1 Google them.

Do your due diligence.

If you’re accepting a teacher or mentor, you’re making a huge decision. Is this person really worthy of your trust and money, or are they just a slick lie?

  • Do they have any criminal history?
  • FTC judgments?
  • Complaints from people in the blogosphere? Look for any review sites you can and read up on them.
  • Use a tool like Moz’s link explorer to see if their main website has any links and authority- or is it totally new?

#2 If they’re an author, read their Amazon book reviews.

Check their reviews of their books on Amazon.

Even if they have 100’s of 5 star reviews, that can be faked.

There are sites like Fiverr where authors can pay people to post book reviews they themselves have written. Do the reviews seem authentic? Would a real person write that? Or do the reviews sound like marketing material?

Read the 1, 2 and 3 star reviews. Do any of these people find the 5-star reviews suspicious?

If previous readers think the 5-star book reviews are a lie, then I would pass on that book and author.

Here’s more about how to spot fake reviews.

#3 Beware the millionaire bait.

Copywriters know that people get more excited by a “millionaire method” than by a system that helps you break 6-figures.

Think big, right?

Wrong.

Most millionaire methods are BS. Most people have a much better chance of making 6-figures in business than becoming a millionaire.

And food for thought: the research says

People don’t get happier after they make more than $105k. In many cases, they get unhappier.

So it might not be smart to strive to be a millionaire anyway.

That’s not a popular sentiment, and that’s why con-men can make so much money promising you millions.

We all want an easy way out of work and into a life where we get everything we want. That’s how con-men hook you.

Becoming a millionaire is not reality for most people, but people don’t want reality.

They want to live their dream. They want positive inspiration.

Odds are, this person has not actually discovered a system that will make everyone a millionaire.

What’s the catch?

What aren’t they telling you?

Where are all these millionaires they’ve created? Can you talk to them?

What percentage of people achieved that?

What percentage failed?

Is the only millionaire the one who made money selling everybody the idea of becoming a millionaire?

#4 Check their case studies and testimonials.

Have they helped any students achieve the things they’re promising you?

Do they have testimonials? Could those testimonials have been faked? Is there any way to verify these people?

Try doing a Google image search of any testimonials from “regular” people. You might find something like this:

Google the people in the testimonials and see if you find real people who’ve achieved things.

If you do find real people, contact them and ask them about the guru, author or teacher you’re considering.

Did these real success story people struggle at all?

Is this testimonial person in their affiliate program and make money on the guru’s stuff? If so, they are incentivized to lie about the guru. Or at least stretch the truth, and gloss over the challenges.

In fact, even though affiliate marketing is a valid strategy, many of the con-men I’ve seen use affiliates, so having an affiliate program may be a red flag.

I know, this is work!

But it will save you a lot of money, time and heartache in the long run.

Please do it.

#5 Check their academic references.

Do they have anything to back up their claims? Research? Studies? Surveys? Click on their references and find out if they’re real.

#6 Do they have the endorsement of trustworthy people?

Almost anybody can put up a landing page with fake testimonials from people you’ve never heard of.

What’s harder is to get positive quotes from real authorities.

Keep in mind, before you decide that a quote from so-and-so is a big deal, some of these con-men go in groups. They all endorse each other, so they all seem to have a lot of authority together. But all of them are lying and cheating to some degree. There are groups of con-men helping each other look more credible so they can all fleece people.

#7 Have they published with a traditional publisher?

Anyone can self-publish. What’s harder to do is to get published by a big, traditional publisher (examples include McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Wiley).

These publishers vet authors pretty thoroughly to make sure they’re for real.

Still, some of the minor con-men slip through- or an author may get traditionally published before they try to con anybody online.

So this one alone is not enough.

#8 Do they teach at an accredited college or university?

Anyone can create their own course.

Few people teach for real universities or colleges where they live.

Again, these institutions will vet their prospective professors.

#9 Do they have mentions or interviews with the big name press and media?

Anyone can blog.

Fewer people are able to get on TV and into the big-name magazines and newspapers.

Editors and producers are skeptical and know that their own credibility can be permanently damaged by trusting the wrong source.

If someone has been in big-name press and media multiple times, there’s a good chance they’ve been checked out by multiple skeptical editors.

#10 Watch your emotions.

There’s really no 100% foolproof way to be sure. But you can watch your own emotions, if you trust them.

If you:

  • Start believing this person and their system or tool is the key to your future.
  • Think, “this is the only way.”
  • Are afraid there’s a limited amount of time, or the seller is using false urgency to get you to act.
  • Are afraid, “If I miss out on this, I’m screwed.”
  • Are afraid they might be lying…

…then take a breath and sleep on it. A lot of these guys motivate through fear and urgency.

If you’re feeling adrenalized and stressed, you won’t make the right decision.

Talk to some people about it. Be careful: con-men isolate you from other influences. They tell you that your friends and family won’t understand because they’re not winners or don’t want you to succeed. This keeps you from hearing any second-opinions on the con-man’s ideas.

You need to be patient, take your time, talk to people and make the right decision.

Ask the seller to give you more time. If they won’t, ask why not. These guys are really good at coming up with plausible reasons. Ask them to make an exception. If they won’t, then they probably aren’t a good partner for you.

Sometimes they say, “I only want to work with decisive people.”

Why is that?

“Because they take action.”

Well, that’s pretty convenient for the seller, since that action is you giving them money.

Don’t let them manipulate you.

Retailers: The Top 10 Digital Strategies for Store Visits & Sales in 2020

Are you a retail store owner, manager or marketer?

As you know, retail can be very challenging right now, because you’re competing against:

  • Big Box money, scale and technology in the bricks and mortar world
  • Ecommerce convenience, pricing, ubiquity, data and ad budgets from Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Wayfair and others.

I’ve spoken to thousands of franchisees and independent retail store owners over the last several years. In preparing for those keynotes and trainings, I’ve personally met to discuss their problems and solutions with them.

Here are some of the solutions that have worked for them, and we’ll cover each one:

  1. Drive more store visits with Google’s “My Business”
  2. Drive more store visits with Facebook
  3. Drive more store visits with Twitter.
  4. Leverage influencers to find new enthusiastic buyers.
  5. Humanize your store with video content.
  6. Stay top-of-mind with shoppers via Retargeting Ads.
  7. Drive more store visits with retail strategies.
  8. Increase sales and profits per square foot.
  9. Get more sales from your Shopify or other ecommerce store.
  10. Increase sales and profits by selling on Amazon.

Here we go!

Drive more store visits with Google’s “My Business”

There are two major marketing methods online: search and social.

Search strategies on Google and Bing attract customers who are already looking for you, or for what you sell.

Your first job is to make sure you get your free listing on Google My Business. Then you’ll show up on those local map searches with accurate business info, phone number, store hours and website.

  • Google searches with “near me” have grown 2.4X year-over-year (Google).
  • 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day (Google).
  • One in three shoppers has purchased from a company or brand other than the one he or she intended to because of information received in the moment (Google).
  • Google Maps has a market reach of more than 90% amongst Android users worldwide (Statista).
  • Mobile searches for ‘where to buy’ have grown 85 % since 2015 (Geo Marketing).

Be careful and make sure you monitor your listing. Over the years, I’ve seen competitors steal people’s local listings, so you need to be aware of how you’re showing up for local searches and get control of your listing.

These days, people look at store listings for hours and they can even tell (because of the data constantly being collected about consumers by their phones and Internet activity) which hours your store is most and least busy.

Here is more about:

You may also want to consider a paid service that will help you manage your local presence on multiple sites. Such services include Brandify and Synup.

Drive more store visits with Facebook.

Social advertising options like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others help you interrupt the right potential customers and tell them why they should come in.

This is a huge opportunity, because after you nail down all your “search-related” strategies on Google and Bing, you have now maxed out on the people already looking for you.

How do you attract more people who don’t even know to look for you?

Interrupting the right potential buyer is the key to social media marketing.

Of course, you want to interrupt them in a relevant and pleasing way, so that they’re happy you told them. Being annoying, insensitive or boring won’t work.

What makes social advertising platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so powerful is their targeting abilities. You can target people by demographics, interests and even buying habits. You can’t get the right people to come into your store if you never reach them.

Without ads, people don’t get any results from Facebook, because they don’t reach anybody.

A really basic thing to do with your social media- which many people neglect- is just to check how many people it’s reaching.

It doesn’t matter how many fans you have- it matters how many people see your posts and ads. Check the numbers. Without ads, they’re too low.

You need to reach thousands of people just to get hundreds of visitors. That’s how the math works. You have to advertise to get bottom-line results with social media.

One thing you’ll like about Facebook ads, if you’ve already advertised on Google or Bing, is that Facebook can be much more affordable.

And we’ll talk about retargeting separately, which is super powerful for staying in front of your future and past buyers.

Drive more store visits with Twitter.

Twitter is a different animal for retail, because Twitter is nichier than Facebook, for example. Twitter’s users tend to be smarter, geekier bookworms with more money. They’re more likely to be readers than TV viewers. A lot of news and sports outlets use Twitter, so there are definitely some mainstream users, but there are many more mainstream TV viewers and Facebook users who will tell you they “don’t get Twitter.” However, if you’re a tech or computer parts retailer, for example, Twitter could be a great option for your store.

Still, Facebook has six times as many users as Twitter, and people spend 35 minutes a day on Facebook and 15 minutes a day on Instagram, but only 2 minutes a day on Twitter.

To be effective doing retail marketing on Twitter, you have to

  • TARGET: Reach the right potential shoppers on Twitter. For that you need targeting and relevant messaging. Targeting only comes with advertising.
  • ADVERTISING: If you don’t have a lot of Twitter followers, you should use Twitter ads- and even if you do have thousands of followers, Twitter ads can help you target your exact customers, whether that’s geographically, or by their interests, or by whether they’ve visited your website before. Without ads, you may not reach enough people to make much difference, especially if you want to reach a lot of people at once before or during a sale event. Plan to spend $500 or more on Twitter ads during the days of your sale- and do the same with Facebook ads, and this will spike any TV or other media you’re already planning.
  • ADAPT: Make sure you’ve adapted your campaign to the segment of your customers that’s on Twitter, and be quick and get straight to the point. Tweets are short, and people only spend about 2 minutes a day on Twitter on average.

Leverage influencers to find new enthusiastic buyers.

There are bloggers, YouTubers and other social media influencers out there who already have big influence with audiences of people that include your future customers.

Brendan Bauer of Grand Fusion Housewares told me how lucky he was to have found an influencer that has boosted their sales. This blogger had access to 40,000 of his potential customers. They simply donated a product (12 of the same product) as a giveaway and paid the blogger $150, and their Amazon sales went crazy.

If an influencer links to your website, this can help your Google and Bing search rankings.

You can use search tools to find influencers, or use a website like Tomoson that has an influencer marketplace of over 100,000 influencers.

Humanize your store with video content.

If you create video of the inside of your store, you eliminate some of the unknowns that may keep people from visiting.

They’re thinking:

  • What is this store?
  • Will I like it?
  • Are the prices good?

If you’re an unknown, independent store, one of the biggest obstacles you have is that people know what to expect when they go into a chain store.

They don’t know what to expect from you.

If you create appealing videos of your entrance, displays, employees, you can create familiarity and likability that lead to more store visits.

This a huge opportunity most stores fail to act on. Or they create videos that are unappealing. The videos aren’t good enough to have an effect. Or no one sees the videos, because they have no social reach and they fail to advertise.

I get it- video isn’t easy for a lot of people. If you don’t have video talent or skills in your business, and if you don’t set the mood right and get people involved, you won’t be able to pull it off.

So you can either hire someone, or you can learn.

Regardless, you may have to make a mental shift: this is all about connecting with shoppers’ emotions, and it’s not just about the latest sale.

YouTube is so popular now, that many people expect you to be able to put your store manager and salespeople onto video, and see happy, interesting people. Your people are an asset, but if you can’t get that across in video, you may not be as competitive.

Don’t worry about live video. It is rarely useful and helpful. Most people only watch about 15 seconds OR LESS of any video on Facebook. People watch longer videos on YouTube, but they’re not live videos.

Just create good 15 – 60 second videos.

Create at least one video a week.

If you can’t do that, you may need to hire someone to do it for you or to help you get into the swing of things.

Stay top-of-mind with shoppers via Retargeting Ads.

Most people don’t buy the first time they hear about you. Sometimes they don’t even buy the first time they visit your retail store.

Even if you get people’s emails, 80% of people don’t open business emails!

Most ecommerce conversion rates are so low, that 99% of people don’t buy when they visit the online store.

How are you going to stay in front of those people if they’re not buying and not opening emails?

And if you don’t stay in front of them, they might forget about you. People are busy, distracted and have powerful “forgetters.”

Retargeting ads keep you in front of potential buyers so they don’t forget about you and you can continue to market to them with new messages until they’re ready to buy.

Using just Facebook and Google ads, we can stay in front of people who’ve given you their emails, visited your website, interacted with social posts or even watched your videos.

Because of the size of their ad networks, with retargeting, you can show up to these people on Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, thousands of other websites, and even in thousands of smartphone apps.

Retargeting is a best practice.

You should be running it with the Facebook and Google ad platforms at the very least, and it will achieve all of that, and usually with a relatively small ad budget.

Drive more store visits with retail strategies.

You have to give customers a reason to come into your store.

Why shouldn’t they just buy from Amazon, eBay or some other Internet retailer?

Retail strategies that work have changed.

Here are some ideas that work:

  • Limited time sales, like Memorial Day, are one of the first things we think of. Don’t neglect them. But they aren’t the only way.
  • Discounts.
  • Contests.
  • Events- are there are other nearby stores you can partner with who might help? What if you teamed up with a local microbrewery to create a community meet-and-greet?
  • Creating content like videos answering common questions to help people get to know you and your store.
  • Improving signage and window displays.
  • Making shoppers feel welcome. Do something interesting at the entrance: for example, a welcome mat, balloons or a human greeter.
  • Putting signs in your parking lots, on roadways and sandwich signs out front.
  • Impressing shoppers with better landscaping.
  • Offering free smartphone charging stations.
  • Offering free wifi.
  • Setting up areas where shoppers can sit down and relax when tired.

Which of these strategies haven’t you tried yet?

Do something new!

Increase your sales-per-square-foot.

Are you meeting or exceeding the average of $325 per square foot?

How do these brands get such high sales per square foot?

First, make sure shoppers stay in your store long enough to buy!

Here is your biggest vulnerability in bricks and mortar: consumers can easily walk out and just buy it online.

Are your prices competitive with Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, or the big ecomm site in your niche?

Shoppers can get on their smartphone while in your store and find the reviews for the product and the price from a competitor.

Eighty-two percent of shoppers say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store (Google).

This was a problem even for Home Depot until they started putting signs next to their products with info about their website to cue you to go online and look for reviews on homedepot.com… not on Amazon.com.

Dana Hunt of Masterpiece Lighting in Atlanta told me his solution… Before becoming a lighting retailer with Lighting One, Dana had an IT background, which he decided to apply to his new business. He put a QR code on every tag of every product in his showroom. Any customer in his store can connect to his store wifi using their email address (which can be a smart way to build a customer list, if you ask for an opt-in, so that you can continue to market to them!), then find out about size, cost, in-stock info, and price comparisons on Google. This is the kind of info you want to supply your customer with if you want to ensure they buy from your store. Customers are savvy and connected these days, and if you ignore that fact, you will lose business.

If you give customers the info they need to confidently buy from you, you will increase your sales per square foot. But if you continue to operate your store like it’s 1995, you will go out of business.

More great ways to increase sales per square foot include:

  • Improving your store layout, end-caps, orderliness and appeal. Also, consider moving sale items and other high demand items toward the back of the store to increase the number of products shoppers see. This definitely increases sales.
  • Optimize your product assortment. Remove products that don’t sell and try new ones. Keep good data on everything so it’s easy for you to analyze this frequently.
  • Monitor your salespeople’s successes and failures, ask customers about their experience with sales associates in the store (Do customers need more help? What kind? Or do they think your salespeople are too aggressive?) and invest in sales training. Even if you’re only investing time in your sales training, make sure you meet with your sales associates monthly- or at least quarterly- to discuss methods and success rates.
  • Test your pricing: higher or lower, ending in a 9 or a 5. What gets more sales for your store?
  • Cross-sell. Put related items next to each other. Consider creating displays that combine products and help the shopper realize why they need more than one thing.
  • Create a loyalty program.
  • Offer more payment options and terms.

Just implementing one of the seven suggestions in this tip could help boost your sales per square foot.

See how many of these areas you can improve this quarter.

Most retailers know that they have limited space, so they need to maximize their profit per square foot.

You won’t win if you’re using up display space on bulky, low-profit items. You might be tempted to boost the price to make up for it, and consumers will just go find better deals online, and your inventory won’t move.

So, if you’re selling with your own online store or on sites like Amazon, reserve your bulkier, low profit-per-square-foot items for ecommerce. Your storage costs will be a lot lower than retail store rent, so this boosts your profitability.

If you’re not selling online already, you need to seriously consider doing it.

Other ideas include:

  • Ship goods to customers from your store (and manage returns there, as well).
  • Allow pick-ups of online orders.
  • Get a platform or system so that your analytics don’t just show you sales or profits, but correlate it with your current display set-up square footage.
  • Instead of stocking many of the same item in your retail store, make your retail store a showcase so you can show a larger number of different items. Actual delivery comes from your warehouse.

Get more sales from your Shopify or other ecommerce store.

Both in our agency work (directly for retailers) and in my keynote speaking to retail associations (interviewing and speaking with retailers from the audiences), we see some common patterns with their ecommerce websites.

What was initially astounding to me was that:

Most retailers say their own ecommerce website doesn’t do much sales volume and is not a big priority for them.

Many retailers get more sales volume from their bricks and mortar stores or selling through sites like Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond.

Amazon is obviously the 500-pound gorilla and many have been forced to join ’em because they can’t beat ’em. Traditional B&M retailers struggle to adapt to what’s necessary to win with their own ecommerce websites.

When you compare your ecommerce site to what you can do selling through Amazon, you’re forced to ask yourself if you can create the level of usability, if you can get enough user data to customize and if you can achieve the conversion rates that Amazon product pages get.

What I hear from retailers is that they can get 12% – 22% conversion rates on Amazon. With Shopify, you’re a rock star if you get a 5% conversion rate, and many struggle to get to 2%. That means your cost per sale is 4-6x higher with a Shopify site than as an Amazon seller.

If you are profiting a lot more doing it yourself, or you can get a higher conversion rate, then investing more into your own ecommerce site makes sense. And even if you don’t do most of your ecommerce volume through your own site, you can still use it as an opportunity to brand yourself and sell to people who can’t or won’t use Amazon and other retailers.

If you want to succeed with your own ecommerce website, you need:

  • To invest in design, usability, copywriting, analysis and optimization. If you don’t have copywriting training, hire someone to write good product text.
  • Get professional photos- they’ll make or break your conversion rate, which makes or breaks your profits.
  • Constantly look at your numbers for places you can improve and try new images and product text. It’s not fire and forget. It’s constantly improve.
  • You need an analyst with a passion for driving better results
  • You need writers and photographers who will get you better and better creative over time, based on what you’re learning from your analytics.
  • If you run ads to your ecommerce website, you need to make sure you’ve properly installed your ad platform pixels. These not only help you measure, but in some cases like Facebook and Google Ads, help the platform itself optimize your targeting for bigger profits. Without these pixels, your ads will cost too much and you may not profit. If your platform doesn’t allow you to place a Facebook pixel, then your vendor is out-of-date and you should switch platforms.

That’s all… and isn’t that enough?

Get to work!

Increase sales and profits by selling on Amazon.

Over 55% of all product searches begin on Amazon. If you aren’t leveraging Amazon, you’re cutting your potential ecommerce sales in half, at least.

Amazon selling is a huge topic, so I’ll just cover the high points.

Whether you go through Amazon vendor central or seller central is the first question, and though vendor central wholesaling may be more convenient for you, you do have more control and options with seller central.

  • Optimize your product listings and use professional photos. Write product descriptions of 1,000 words that contain relevant and appropriate keywords.
  • Use FBA and show up as a Prime option, stop managing customer service and returns on Amazon orders.
  • Get as many reviews as you can. But follow the rules.
  • Your products need to have at least 4 stars. 4.5 and 5 is ideal. If you aren’t doing a good job with meeting shopper expectations with product quality or delivery, they’ll tell you through your star ratings. If you don’t have 4 stars, you won’t sell much.
  • Send follow-up messages to buyers, but not annoying ones! Ask for an honest review (you’re not allowed to ask for a positive one!) several weeks after the purchase.
  • Use Amazon ads (Amazon Marketing Services). The ads that Amazon offers are more effective than anything else, including Facebook or Google ads, for increasing your visibility and sales on Amazon. Max these out first before you consider any other advertising that you might send to Amazon.
  • Watch out for counterfeit products copying yours and get them shut down ASAP.
  • Get a data analyst who looks at all of your ecommerce (your own ecomm site, Amazon, Walmart, etc.) for problems and opportunities.

If that’s not enough, here are more Amazon selling tips.

So, as you can tell, there are more than 10 tips here- there are dozens!

Put some into practice now.

REPLAY: How to Become an Influencer [Facebook Live Show]

Episode CUATRO of Live Online Learning (LOL)…

To be sure not to miss future live shows, opt in here to join the email list so we can keep you notified!

Here’s what we talked about, in addition to attendee live questions we answered:

  1. Introduction
    1. What’s an influencer?
      1. An author, expert, TV personality, YT personality, celebrity or microfamous in a niche,
      2. Someone with followers and viewers and the ability to influence their audience-
        1. you’re not an influencer if people aren’t affected by you-
        2. you’re not an infuencer if you don’t have a following
      3. Some online influencers make 6 figures just for being themselves
      4. What the minimum you have to have or be to be an influencer?
        1. There are degrees of influence, but real influencers have a significant impact on an audience- if that’s a small audience they might not need to have 100,000 fans, but until you attract the attention of sponsors or media, you may not be that influential
        2. Once you have impact you’ll probably have haters- that’s a good sign- it’s hard to have haters without having a lot of supporters, it means you are pushing people in a direction and not everybody is going to agree- or you can just get a jealousy response from people who don’t like that you’re succeeding
    2. Anyone can become an influencer and get paid for it if they really want to
      1. Do you want to be a famous paid influencer, or an anonymous cubicle worker?
      2. Even if you don’t have a following you can get one
      3. Even if you don’t currently attract followers you can learn how to
      4. Anyone can make a living being an influencer if they work at it
      5. If you have beliefs, talent, expertise or even just a desire to talk to a lot of people? Then you should become more influential. Your voice, your perspective is important. The world needs your contribution. You deserve to influence an audience.
      6. Everyone who performs or influences large audiences experiences fear, even the best most famous singers and comedians- you can overcome it. It’s simply the desire to do and be your best, feeling the responsibility of a teacher or entertainer- use it to inspire you to prepare and to sharpen your performance.
  2. Network – personal
    1. Deepen your relationships
    2. Meet people in person
    3. Get to know VIP’s
  3. Network – online
    1. How many FB friends do you have? Grow to at least 3,000
    2. How many FB page fans? You don’t have to pay for page likes thru ads, but it’s a good idea until you have more than 5-10k. You should promote posts instead when you can, because having fans doesn’t ensure they’ll see your posts.
    3. How many LinkedIn contacts? Keep growing this, and keep it up with your email, Twitter and FB contacts- try to get over 1,000 at least.
    4. How many YT subscribers? YT and FB, social video is like the new TV- you don’t have a TV show to be famous or make money. And if you learn to do it well in social, maybe one day you could have a TV show too. Go for 100, then 1000, then 10,000.
    5. How many Twitter followers? It’s a good idea to have at least 10,000 – you can use tools like tweepi to follow the kind of people you want as followers and many will follow back.
    6. How many Instagram followers? Go for 5,000- there are tools to help you follow the right people and grow faster
    7. How many email subscribers? Email is one of the best
    8. ways to acquire a powerful list you can always go to for attention to new content or to sell things. Go for 10,000 at least; you need lead magnets- leadquizzes is a good start- but checklists are an easy way give value and get emails without a ton of work.
    9. How many podcast listeners? Podcasting is the new radio- even though it’s not mainstream, it’s a great way to have deep influence on people because they listen for a lot longer than people watch videos.
    10. What’s your monthly total reach? Aim for at least 100,000- you can increase this affordably with Facebook ads- do retargeting to stay in front of your web visitors, email subscribers and video viewers with your newest content.
    11. How much interaction or clicks do you get monthly? Some influencers aren’t really focused on website traffic- they do everything with YT, FB, etc but it’s important to have web visitors for retargeting and to get email subscribers- instead of relying 100% on social sites, since you can’t export a FB followering or YT subscriber list, you should own your list so you can contact them anytime you want- this is how Kevin Hart grew his comedy audiences, for example, and now he’s a millionaire.
  4. Teach
    1. What are you an expert in?
    2. How do you deliver value to an audience that will come to rely on you?
    3. Webinars
    4. In-Person Speaking
      1. Conference sessions and breakouts
      2. Paid speaking
    5. Facebook Live, YT Live
    6. YouTube channel videos
    7. Author books – author = authority
  5. Additional Credibility- what separates you from similar competing influencers? How are you better or different?
    1. Build a bio comprised of the following
    2. How long have you been doing this thing?
    3. Media appearances
      1. Trad like TV- Like Lewis Howes recently getting on Ellen or me being on Bloomberg TV news
      2. New like podcasts- not many give you credibility but it’s better than nothing, it proves people are interested in what you have to say- and it raises awareness of you
    4. Teach at an established college or university
    5. Bestselling books
    6. Working with famous companies or chosen by them, e.g. being an IBM futurist and one of the top social media experts LinkedIn says you should listen to
    7. Contribute to popular blogs
    8. Get certificates/accreditation- G AdWords cert/FB cert, e.g.
  6. Charisma
    1. Likability
    2. Humor- entertainment can have its own value even if you don’t teach- you could be an entertainer in the sports niche and make money from athletic companies- JP Sears does a great job of being hilarious about the niche in which he also does serious consulting
    3. Authenticity
    4. Personality
    5. Charismatic Leadership Traits from Professor John Antonakis
      1. Verbal
        1. metaphor and comparison,
        2. Story- do storytelling shows, study story structure and hero’s journey
        3. rhetorical question,
        4. contrasts,
        5. lists and repetitions,
        6. moral convictions,
        7. expressing the sentiments of the collective,
        8. setting high and ambitious goals, and
        9. creating confidence that goals can be achieved.
      2. Non-verbal – go to toastmasters, take improv and acting classes
        1. animated voice
        2. facial expressions, and
        3. Gestures
  7. How to get paid
    1. Consulting
    2. Sponsorships and endorsements- make sure to follow the FTC rules about disclosing when you’re being paid for what you’re saying, or you could get fined big time
    3. Live speaking
    4. Paid webinars