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Influential Marketing: Replacing the Influencer with the Influential

September 1, 2021 - Practitioner Marketing - ,
By: Jessica Walker

All businesses need influential marketing to attract customers to their products. To that end, companies often pay popular celebrities (known as “influencers” in the marketing world) huge sums of money to advertise for them. This so-called influencer marketing has become a key component of many business strategies…for better or worse. Some industries, like athletic apparel and cosmetics, make very good use of this approach. For the tech industry, though, it’s a bit more challenging. It’s hard enough to identify potential influencers, much less explain how they can play a role in marketing specific technologies.

So does that mean that technology vendors like SumoLogic and Splunk can’t leverage the power of influencer marketing? We think not. The solution is to find people who can influence in a less presumptive, and arguably more authentic way. These influencers might not be famous, but they’re just as capable of validating and adding credibility to your products. In the tech industry, this is where practitioner marketing replaces the traditional influencer with the technologically influential.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing, as the name implies, is a business strategy in which companies hire influential, widely recognizable figures to advertise their products. If you’d like a new perfume, for example, you might buy Valentino because you heard Lady Gaga sing its praises. If you need a new look, you might opt for CoverGirl makeup after seeing how it looks on Taylor Swift. Influencer marketing can be extremely effective; for example, Michael Jordan’s line of Nike merchandise (including the iconic Air Jordans) rocketed them to a record 3.6 billion dollar revenue in 2020. In fact, influencer marketing has become so successful that some celebrities like Rihanna have even started their own brands.

But influencer marketing doesn’t always go as planned. For example, LeBron James tweeted about the meltdown of his Samsung phone while he was their paid spokesperson. David Beckham signed a deal with Brylcreem and then shaved his head. Sharon Stone blamed a devastating earthquake on China’s occupation of Tibet, costing her sponsor, Christian Dior, a massive marketing opportunity.

The Limitations of Influencer Marketing

It makes sense that a supermodel could influence someone’s opinion of a fashion designer, but who could influence an engineer’s opinion of a SIEM solution? In Stack Overflow’s 2019 Survey, developers voted Elon Musk most likely to be the most influential person in tech that year, but even if you could get him to market your APM tool (good luck with that), do you think he would actually influence more developers or businesses to choose it over competing products? Probably not.

That’s because the tech world is highly specialized, and people who may seem like potential influencers at first glance aren’t likely to have the practical experience or specific expertise necessary to market your product effectively – which is why you need an influential practitioner to market your tech product instead.

Influential Marketing for the Tech Industry

Practitioner marking is a bit more complicated than influencer marketing. In fact, we’ve devoted a separate blog post just to defining it. Put simply, practitioner marketing increases a vendor’s share of voice in the tech market by employing experts (practitioners). These DevOps practitioners attract potential customers to your product by writing about a very specific technical issue, educating them about different ways to approach it, and potentially persuading them that your product is the best tool for the job.

Practitioner marketing is far more subtle than influencer marketing; in fact, it can seem incidental or even go unnoticed by the reader. In addition, the marketing itself provides value to consumers in the form of tutorials and expert insights. Potential end users can learn about best practices, new trends, and what new technologies can (and can’t) do, for example. This increases their confidence in the product and their ability to use it effectively. That, in turn, increases their organizations’ confidence that a particular vendor’s product will be well worth the investment.

How Do You Find Practitioners Who Can Create Influential Marketing?

So where do these influential practitioners come from, and how can tech vendors find the right practitioners to market their products

Unlike traditional influencers, who are by definition well-known figures with substantial social clout, practitioners may or may not have a significant social following. Furthermore, while influencers sell products that they may or may not use, practitioners actively use the products that they market. Actually, they don’t really sell the product in the traditional sense; rather, they explain how and why to use it.

Therefore, to find an influential practitioner, you need to find an expert who can create technical content that inspires specialists to use your product – which can seem a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. After all, no one lands a job as a DevOps engineer because of their ability to pen beautiful prose. The good news, though, is that skilled practitioners can become influential (which we’ve written about in more detail) regardless of their writing ability. All they need is a nerd who can be the bridge between their technical expertise and the tech market. 

That’s exactly what we do here at Fixate – we translate technical knowledge into inspiring content, and we create technical content that inspires knowledge. We don’t just work with a team of skilled practitioners – we’re the only tech marketing agency that’s run by them. As such, we’re uniquely positioned to give technology vendors a credible and influential share of voice in the tech marketplace.

To learn more about Fixate’s products, process and pricing, schedule time here for a quick chat. We’ll follow up with samples and a rate sheet.


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