OpenView Venture’s recent eBook is a timely reminder that almost every size company can – and should – benefit from influencer marketing. Yet to date it’s been mostly large, established brands who have invested in strategic influencer marketing programs. This shouldn’t be the case, as influencer marketing is perfect for startups.
Perhaps the larger organizations have decided they can speculatively invest in influencer marketing, while retaining their traditional spend. Perhaps those responsible for marketing in those organizations are inclined to be more adventurous, or perhaps those in smaller firms just haven’t had enough marketing budget to spend on anything but the most essential basics. Whatever the case, startups are missing out – and it could be critical to their success.
Most early-stage firms and startups suffer from one central shortage. Not money, but time. They have a limited window in which to establish themselves, their product, service or even market sector. Corporations can weather a year or two of so-so traction among their influencers, whereas startups simply won’t make it if they take so much time. They need to get noticed by the right people fast – be they VCs, analysts, partners, bloggers, whoever – and without wasting any of their short-supply resources. And it’s not just a matter of identifying these influencers and getting noticed by them. Startups have to engage with them as well. This is the whole essence of influencer marketing.
Startups are often ecstatic when they see their first few mentions in papers and magazines, then soon disappointed when nothing results from it. There’s no guarantee at all that their influencers are reading these publications. Most often they’re not. Instead of waiting for the coverage to spread and hoping it reaches the most influential people, early-stage firms should be identifying and engaging with these influencers right out of the gate. Given the limited amount of time and money startups have to establish themselves, it’s a wonder that any would opt against influencer marketing. It hits all the right bases. It seems that OpenView, a firm advising early-stage companies, already realizes that. Are they in the minority?
Nick Hayes is Founder & Principal at Influencer50 in San Francisco. He is also co-author of the book Influencer Marketing: Who Really Influences Your Customers?