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Influencer Marketing in Tech:  I-Way or the Highway

May 26, 2016 - Marketing - , ,
By: Yolanda Fintschenko

It’s tempting to begin with a definition of influencer marketing, but what‘s really driving this marketing strategy is the customer. So what do we know about the high tech market segment?

Tech souls are more than skeptical when it comes to receiving product information when it touches their expertise domain. They are opposed. It’s not just the customers in tech you are trying to reach. There is a good chance your own company, probably started by a developer, does not think that there is a need for a marketing department. Why? Because there is a widely held belief among engineers that good work and good products stand for themselves, while marketing is manipulation used to trick people into using inferior products whose features don’t make them rise to the top. 

The tech community is not just skeptical of marketing; it is resistant to marketing. It’s also fragmented and noisy. So companies relying on the “float to the top” method are—well—bankrupt.

However, to engineer is human. We’re not talking marketing to Spock. You may feel like you are dealing with a different species, but tech professionals buy based on emotion just like everyone else. Like other consumers, tech customers need to trust who they buy from and what they buy. Because the products they need overlap with their expertise, they often feel that they can evaluate the worthiness of a product themselves, and therefore ignore marketing material. However, like all of us, they have limited time. They can’t evaluate every product that might help them do their work. So they rely on highly technical peers to try the product and explain its performance at a satisfying level of technical detail based on use cases that are relevant to them.

Peer influence is very important in the tech world. The peer is not a celebrity in the conventional sense, as used in business to consumer marketing, but a celebrity nonetheless. A  tech guru who has a trusted persona has the same level of influence in this market as Beyoncé does in consumer market segments.

Within their own companies, tech professionals want to be seen as supernerds. Part of this means knowing about what’s new in their field first. 

Tech customers in their natural habitat are also tinkerers, which means they are always trying to improve, tweak, and mess with something. 

They like to solve problems, and they like to think they solved the problem on their own—which can make them both perfect and problematic customers for your new product. 

Content marketing campaigns have been touted as the be-all and end-all in marketing.  Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that focuses on providing leadership, education, and product-specific information to customers who are reaching out for your content based on keyword searches, referrals, and other breadcrumbs. It allows your company to position itself as an authority. It can connect customers populating each phase of the sales cycle to the right information at the right time. However, if marketing is the source of the content, a tech market segment will ignore all that beautiful, expensive, time-consuming content, and your strategy is blown into little, tiny, useless pieces.

Enter influencer marketing. In influencer marketing, your goal is to attract and inspire the influencers in your market segment to create and communicate content that is persuasive to your market.  Resistance is futile if you have picked the right influencers to woo.  Unlike advocate  or advocacy marketing, which relies on finding and rewarding existing customers for testimonials, references, and referrals, influencer marketing is about developing relationships with a wide range of thought leaders in the market who will give your product credence by using their personal brand.  Word-of-mouth marketing may be an outcome of influencer marketing as influencers generate interest in your product among your customers.  Influencers can be tech evangelists who are people in your own company who are subject matter experts who maintain their own brand and following; however, most companies struggle with how to manage employees who are mouthpieces for company products and balance that with their own opinions. Influencers have the advantage of increased credibility because they come from outside your company.

Ready to learn how to harness influencer marketing? Download this e-book and influence away! 

*Just kidding


Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, coach and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  She founded Common SciSense, a marketing company for technical products, and co-founded founderTRACTION, lean marketing services for startups. 

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