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Can Influence Marketing create a point of difference in the deal cycle?

March 11th, 2022

Can Influence Marketing create a point of difference in the deal cycle?

While still early as a discipline, Influencer Marketing is nevertheless delivering direct and compelling impact for both B2C and B2B organisations. Can it play a transformational role in the marketing mix of Private Equity - backed companies? Robbie Vann-Adibé, seasoned technologist and founder of the digital consulting firm Inpulsus, thinks that it can.

At its core, Influence Marketing is a simple concept. It's the practice of curating relationships with individuals who have an established relationship of trust with a target audience.

“We've always had influencers,” Robbie Vann-Adibé told Drax’s Ruby Sheera in a recent interview. “But the way that we practice it today – via the advent of social media and all the related digital platforms – is very different than how we used to think of it.”

Vann-Adibé, whose firm Inpulsus helps companies transform their marketing to achieve optimum audience engagement and business outcomes, points to a study conducted in the earliest days of Influence Marketing which revealed how 3% of people online drive 90% of the conversation on any given topics.

“These folks get called a variety of things, but the most common way to refer to them today is as influencers. They exist across all platforms and mediums.”

A transformational change for marketing

The examples of Influencer Marketing at work are both predictable and surprising. Obvious use cases are in the retail and beauty industry, with the Kardashian-Jenner clan able to create a huge market for a product via a single tweet or Instagram post. A less obvious example in the B2C space is Tesla.

“Tesla have never run anything even remotely resembling a traditional ad,” says Vann-Adibé. “And they've never run anything that looks remotely like a choreographed digital campaign.” Elon Musk was recently asked about how he keeps Tesla above the fray of mainstream media [#MSM], he replied, “… we don’t buy advertising.” Tesla can do that because Influence Marketing is at the core of their strategy, enabling others to market the brand at scale.

The traditions of Influencer Marketing began in B2C but B2B is making up ground. In fact, the global software brand SAP now has a head of global influencer marketing, as does Philips, Microsoft and many others.

The process can be labour intensive, however. To run influence programmes at scale, there's a lot of toing and froing between the company and the influencers. This is a relationship management activity but there are tools that Vann-Adibé and his team at Inpulsus can deploy from a variety of proven solution providers.

“In the same way that you have CRM systems for sales, there are influencer relationship management systems – IRM - for managing your influence programmes. CRM systems have metrics to tell you how well your sales activities are doing. Similarly, IRM tools have metrics to show you how well your Influence Marketing is doing.”

Navigating ROI in the PE deal cycle

When it comes to attribution – that is, knowing which part of your marketing mix is actually having the greatest impact on whether people buy your product or service – measurement of ROI is still a tricky task. But generally, for the organisations who have been practicing influence at scale, many of them will say that influence marketing has the best ROI of all the marketing channels that they execute against.

“And there's a lot of data out there that suggests this is in fact true.” In a survey by mediakix, marketers were asked how the ROI from Influence Marketing compares to other channels. Over 89% replied that Influence Marketing was “comparable or better to other channels,” with over 14% confirming that Influence Marketing ROI was, “much better.”

We know that the conversations in the world of private equity are quite different than some of the day-to-day conversations that occur in operational businesses. This is because the private equity mindset leans into what changes can be made to a company to impact its performance parameters specifically but also its financial parameters. Everything is couched against a future liquidity event.

In short, investors are looking to make changes that will result in substantial value creation. Vann-Adibé calls them “magic bullets” – implementations that have the power to deliver outsized returns in a short timeframe.

One of those areas that has this potential, and is ripe for change, is marketing. “Companies now have an opportunity to implement influencers at the centre of the marketing stack. What that means is changing the processes by which they do marketing. It involves introducing technology to help them execute influence programmes.

Vann-Adibé concludes: “The impact of those activities can be seen relatively quickly. And that's one of the things that the private equity community really enjoy about applying this tool to their portfolio companies.” Richard Brick, Investment Principal at True – where Inpulsus has recently worked with The Cotswold Co. on their Influence Marketing – comments, “The digital world is fast-changing and at times difficult to navigate. In the wider data-focused climate, the opportunities within digital marketing for arbitrage are reducing and, as such, when we identify a game-changing lever that can transform our portfolio businesses, we tend to employ them quickly.”

For a fuller view to this dynamic, link over to a detailed article from Robbie Vann-Adibé’s desk: Influence(r) Marketing, the Magic Bullet for Private Equity.


[ENDS]

by Ruby Sheera And Patrick Jones

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