Survival is not mandatory. The game has changed. The paradigm has shifted. The horse has left the barn. Influence is the new normal. Only 33% consumers trust ads but 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. An influencer promoting your brand means credibility. Influence is about changing behavior and controlling the brand narrative. Most importantly, influence is about a one to one relationship between the brand and the influencer. The power resides in an Audience of One.
George Herbert Meade’s theory of symbolic interactionism predicts that social networks will have a dramatic impact on consumer behavior. Peer group endorsement reduces purchase anxiety, decision fatigue and provides prevalidation on decision-making and confidence in choice.
One approach to developing a powerful influence network is based on an academic framework called SIVA. SIVA replaces the traditional 4 P’s model of marketing. It states that marketing success is based on:
S…Solution to a consumer pain point.
I …Information that is relevant.
V…Value to the customer.
A…Access to the product.
The success of the SIVA framework centers on a consumer centric approach. Identify the consumer segment…and their associated “pain points”. Engage that customer with relevant content that addresses these “pain points” with information that provide value. It is an approach that solves problems rather than merely selling product. The key is building a brand relationship with the costumer based on trust and authenticity.
Building trust is exactly where influencer networks excel. Influencers and their followers have already built a relationship based on credibility and authenticity. It is this pre-existing relationship that can create a halo of trust for brands that are associated with strategic influencers.
There is sometimes a disconnect between theory and practice. One case study that demonstrates the practical power of influence marketing involves the Chevrolet Dealer Association in Chicago and Northwest Indiana. This 60 dealer association sells 1.5 billion dollars annually and over the past 7 years has consistently maintained brand leadership in a highly competitive market. The basis of this success is “Influence Marketing” says Jerry Haggerty, President of the Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Chevrolet Dealer Association.
Chevy’s influence network was based on strict demographic and psychographic segmentation for each Chevy model. Key audiences for each vehicle were identified utilizing terrestrial radio as the backbone strategy. Influence networks were combined across multiple dayparts to provide 360 messaging on the full range of Chevrolet core vehicles. Most importantly content on each channel was specifically tailored to the personality and format of each station.
This approach insured that all content was delivered with authenticity and credibility to fully engage the audience with brand messaging.
- Eric in the Morning/WTMX Radio – Targeting Women 25-64 with 60 second Chevy Malibu focus daily live reads, monthly video & audio pre-roll, eBlasts and social media engagement along with VIP Contests throughout the year.
Consumer benefit; Family transportation
- Stylz & Roman/US 99 – Long time Chevrolet influencer partners moved from B96 to Country radio format in 2016. (2) 60 second Chevy Cruze focus daily reads with exclusive auto endorsement along with various social media posts per month.
Consumer benefit; Social media connections with young female Country listening audience
- Brady/KISS-FM – Targeting Adults 18-49 with (2) 60 second Chevy Malibu focus daily live reads along with a multitude of digital and social media specific strategies.
Consumer benefit; Social media connections
- Erik Z/KISS-FM – Targeting Adults 18-49 with (1) 60 second Chevy Trax/Sonic focus daily live ready along with a multitude of digital and social media strategies.
Consumer benefit; Urban Smart Car/SUV social media audience
- DJ Flipside/WBBM-FM “B96” – Targeting Adults 18-49 with (2) 30 second Chevy Trax/Sonic focus daily live reads; record monthly branding viral videos shared on several social media platforms.
Consumer benefit; Urban Smart Car/SUV social media audience
- Dan Hampton Football “Hall of Famer” & David Kaplan/ESPN – Targeting Baby Boomers, Football and Sports enthusiasts with 30 second and 60 second Silverado focus radio commercials for Chicago Bears in-game on WBBM Radio and post game analysis on WGN Radio. Exclusive Silverado sponsorships with Pro Football Weekly and Sports Talk Live/NBC Sports Chicago that includes television, print and digital. Daily 30 second Silverado focus live reads with David Kaplan on ESPN Chicago.
Consumer benefit; Rugged dependable performance and towing power
- Lou Manfredini/“Mr. Fix It/Do-It-Yourselfer” – Targeted primarily Adults 35+ with (2) 60 second Equinox focus live reads. 86% of his WGN Radio listeners are exclusive to the show in this day part.
Consumer benefit; Room for five and family gear
- Chicago Blackhawks – Exclusive to Chevy, Patrick Kane & Jonathan Toews have a propensity to be leaders as shown in the 15 second Equinox and Traverse television commercials along with 30 second radio commercials on WGN Radio.
Consumer benefit; Performance in Chicago winter weather
The development of Chevy’s influence network was based on three key areas of evaluation, CREDIBILITY of the influencer based on reputation, RELEVANCE of the influencer to the brand and REACH of the influencer based on size and power of the network.
Each influencer engaged extensive social networks as powerful messaging extensions. The social networks in virtual space activate symbiotically with the TERRESTRIAL networks. The interaction of virtual and TERRESTRIAL networks creates an AMPLIFICATION CATALYST in messaging reach and comprehension. The result is STORYTELLING on STEROIDS, a messaging tsunami that builds engagement at a startling pace.
Chicago Chevrolet “flipped the script” moving from a 3rd place finish in 2010 with 10.8% market share to 1st place for seven straight years and an 11.6% market share.
Chicago Chevrolet is the ONLY market in the Top 10 US markets where Chevy is Number 1. The other nine markets range from 3rd place to 6th place against the competition. These markets effectively serve as control groups for comparison to Chicago. The data shows clearly and incontrovertible validation of the Influence Network Strategy in Chicago.
These comparative results are consistent and long term. They provide dramatic quantifiable support for the power of INFLUENCE marketing to build and maintain brand leadership in a highly competitive environment.
Chicago Chevrolet success was predicted on several key factors:
- Multiple differentiated customer segments…sports, DIY and music.
- Messaging content that speaks with an authentic voice tailored to each influencer.
- Content that addresses key “pain points” in each consumer segment. Content that solves problems rather than purely selling product.
- Symbiotic integration of terrestrial and social networks to amplify messaging delivery and comprehension.
The landscape is changing and the advantage lies with the first movers and superfast followers. Recognition of the challenge is the first step. Success will go to the highly adaptive. You are free to choose.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR & EDITOR
As President of Eisaman Johns and Laws (1981-1999)
de Maio strategized the global launch of the Motorola MICRO TAC PC the first hand held cell phone that established the mobile consumer category. He guided Corona Beer to the Number 1 selling imported beer in the US passing Heineken in 1998.
As Managing Director for Burrell Communications (1999-2005) de Maio oversaw the development and launch of the Verizon brand. As a consultant with Media Nexus (2006-2018) he has been instrumental in developing the Digital Ecosystem of lifestyle apps for Dolce Gabbana worldwide as well as introducing video content delivery to mobile platforms for the LA TIMES. He is currently working with IBM WATSON to apply predictive analytics and social listening to client strategies in 2018.
A recent graduate of Northwestern’s IMC program, Akshita is a storyteller, creative strategist and data-driven marketer at heart. Her passions include content, design, innovation and data. Her career so far spans across having worked in a digital marketing agency, her family-run manufacturing business in India and HSBC USA as an analytics consultant.