Everywhere you look on social media, there seems to be a new mega-influencer, with their hundreds of thousands of followers, and a brand close by willing to pay them top dollar for just one post with their product. They have become the marketing world’s new “celebrities”. There was a time not too long ago when celebrity partnerships were the key to a product’s success. When fragrance companies wanted a successful perfume launch, all they needed was a top celebrities’ name on the bottle. But the game has changed. Sales in the U.S. mass fragrances celebrity products have dropped by half since 2000 showing a clear distrust in the way consumers view traditional celebrity endorsements.
Instead of celebrities, smart brands have turned to the power of influencers to drive growth. Especially in the beauty industry. NYX and Becca are two examples of cosmetics companies that have used social influencer engagement to grow into multimillion-dollar brands. NYX grew their brand strictly through organic content and unpaid social media influencer engagement. Becca connected to YouTube vloggers to build a voice for consumers. Both now rank in the top ten among cosmetic companies for social engagement.
With 92 percent of consumers trusting recommendations from “everyday” individuals — even when they don’t know them — it’s no wonder influencer marketing has reached an all-time high. Consumers trust influencers because they used to provide an honest opinion on a product or service, but with top influencers being paid $15,000 to promote a brand, doesn’t this become good old advertising only dressed differently?
Influencer Marketing is all about finding someone who understands your brand, someone who you can build and nurture a partnership with. Well, most companies already have these people, and they don’t even know it. There is a market of influencers hidden in plain sight: your sales associates. These key employees have already shown they love your products and every day they learn the ins and outs of your culture. You can’t get more relevant than that. Anyone who acts as a conduit between a brand and the consumer is an influencer – they always have been.
So, why aren’t your own team members treated like Instagram influencers? What would happen if brands placed as much effort and budget to cultivating retail talent as they do “influencers”? They are already “influencing” customer decisions right on the front line because they are the closers that make your sales happen. Tapping into this sales force could provide a level of authenticity, passion, and connectivity you’ve never seen before. On and off the sales floor, employees should be trained and encouraged to tell your brand story.
What if you provided your Beauty Advisors and Freelancers the same perks with similar guidelines you send to influencers on your next product launch? You’d kill two birds with one stone. To be successful at selling a new product in-store, it’s important to speak from first-hand experience and of course, then need the education and marketing materials. Why not go a step further and turn them into an army of content creators. Make them feel as important as influencers and editors.
Imagine if, after setting up a gorgeous new product display, associates took a photo, tagged your product, and shared their hard work? All you need is a smartphone to start capturing and creating unique content. Everyone today is connected and they all have a sphere of influence. Results come full circle when that same sales associate creates a personal in-store experience for your customer. The opportunity lies in the ability to activate your Beauty Advisors and reviewing these in-store touch points with the same level of attention given to the path to purchase online.
“Retail talent are the ultimate influencers. They are the face of your brand right on the sales floor,” shares AllWork co-founder Scott Gurfien in a recent interview with Women’s Marketing. “After all, it’s sales associates who guide people through the most crucial part of their buying journey.”
Engaging your retail sales force as ambassadors not only creates an empowering work culture, but also produces exposure, visibility, and a built-in community for your brand.