It’s not uncommon to see larger-than-life celebrities serving in paid spokesperson roles, talking about certain brands on commercials or in interviews, and appearing in print ad campaigns. Take Jennifer Aniston, for example, and her glowing recommendations for smartwater or Aveeno® products. But recently, there has been a shift. Now, it seems like everywhere we turn, there are not only A-list celebrities, but all different types of brand advocates—or what we now call “influencers”—endorsing a product or company in some sort of marketing campaign. Thanks in large part to the wide reach and power of social media, each industry has its own group of influencers who can be extremely valuable marketing vehicles. So, who are these influencer folks and why do they matter to the pest control industry?
An influencer is anyone who has the clout to change or form a buyer’s opinion, and ultimately drive them to make a purchase. Think Jamie Grayson, “thebabyguynyc,” who is far from the red carpet, yet fairly well-known for his energetic posts about baby products—his extensive knowledge in the baby industry makes him a parent’s tried-and-true guide. While many of the most well-known influencers have a large social media following, this is not always a necessary characteristic. Sometimes a niche location or industry can result in a smaller pool of influencers with less followers, but what’s important is that they are targeting the right people and that their opinions matter to that audience. What’s more, these influencers can sometimes be endorsing products in a very subtle way, with a simple hashtag, such as #partnership at the end of their post, or without any indication of payment if it’s an “earned post”—the key is that their messaging resonates with their followers in a strong and authentic way.
According to Business Insider’s research service, BI Intelligence, “The average influencer engagement rate across industry verticals is 5.7 percent. As a comparison, the average engagement rate for brands on Instagram has fluctuated between two and three percent in the past year.” This means that companies can better reach and communicate with their consumers through influencer partnerships more successfully than using their own direct brand entity.
There are a number of reasons why influencer marketing is successful, but a key one is because it creates a more authentic learning and buying experience for consumers. Sure, any brand can directly show a buyer why their product works and is the best. But, when a third-party perspective steps in and shows how it has worked for him or her specifically, this can be game-changing. What’s more, these people are revered by their followers, and the chance that an average consumer may be able to speak with their favorite influencer directly—even from a simple retweet, for example—makes consumers even more likely to pay attention and engage.
Like any industry, professional pest control can benefit from influencer marketing. There are two things to keep in mind when planning to take on this tactic in order to be successful. The first is that the influencer doesn’t necessarily need to be in the pest control industry directly. Consider some of the consumer campaigns managed by the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA) done on behalf of our industry. Every year, PPMA conducts influencer campaigns with Bob Vila through satellite media tours—back-to-back broadcast interviews that can be pre-packaged into segments and sent to local stations—and articles written by Vila and shared on its educational website, PestWorld.org. Although Vila is not a pest control professional, he offers relevant insight given his extensive background in home improvement.
Secondly, there are other ways to leverage influencers without conducting a full paid program if dealing with tight budget constraints. For example, one of my favorite personal influencer experiences occurred from a single, simple tweet. Joelle Fletcher, a former reality TV star from ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” now works on renovating and flipping homes. A few months ago, the PPMA marketing team saw Fletcher post a Snapchat to her story of a cockroach in a bathtub. In the hopes of tapping into her followers who may share similar experiences and be in need of professional pest control services, the team tweeted on the consumer-facing Twitter account, @PestWorld, “That’s one big cockroach on your snap story, @JoelleFletcher! Here’s our 411 on these creepy pests (http://bit.ly/2AFdQ1y), and how to prevent them from ruining future bubble baths!” Within hours, Fletcher herself—who at the time had 428,000 Twitter followers—liked the tweet and earned over 1,580 impressions. To date, the post has garnered more than 4,075 impressions. Without spending a penny and carefully monitoring for keywords, PPMA was able to show consumers, on behalf of the entire pest control industry, that pests are real-life problems that can be solved with professional help, and drove them to a solution on PestWorld.org, where consumers are able to use a zip code locator to find a local pest control professional.
There are many other ways to work with influencers depending on budget and creativity. From high-profile local blogger campaigns to social media endorsements and testimonials and more, influencer marketing is effective. There is an opportunity to put it to work for you to help spread the word about the importance of professional pest control and your company’s services. Start by making a list of all of the potential influencers that align with your brand values and that could help target consumers in your market, and take notice of the content they are posting on their social media platforms. Then, depending on budget, narrow the focus of exactly how these people can help reach potential buyers.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start influencing!
Cindy Mannes is the executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma for more information on how you can become involved.