Social Media Case Studies, Influencer Outreach

Breaking from Tradition: The Four Ms of Influence Marketing

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I’m an old-timer. I come from a background of 20 years in marketing, and gained my Associate Marketing Degree from the Chartered Institute of Marketing almost 15 years ago.

I cut my teeth on the Four Ps of Marketing – Product, Price, Promotion and Place – and used that quadrant for clients and employers alike.

But, as useful as the Four Ps have been in my own growth, times change and marketers need to change with them. This goes for both performance marketers (where I’d place myself) and brand marketers.

As digital and mobile become ever more pervasive in our lives as consumers, so marketers need to tap into that and meet the demands of today’s connected consumer.

This is where the adoption of the Four Ms of Influence Marketing needs to be embraced as the natural evolution of the Four Ps, particularly when it comes to lead generation and understanding the customer life cycle via social media.

Why the Need for the Four Ms of Influence Marketing?

For all intents and purposes, any marketing via today’s multiple digital channels is influence marketing. The problem is, influence today is defined by social scoring platforms like Kred and PeerIndex.

While these platforms offer a decent starting point for who could potentially influence your customers to move along the purchase life cycle from awareness to intent to purchase, there have been too few success stories shared to show this is the case.

Instead, brands are left with impressive amplification metrics, but no real ROI.

This is because these platforms are still concentrating on the influencer at the heart of the marketing circle, versus the real influencer – the customer. After all, it’s the customer that influences how successful – or not – a brand is.

If we can identify who they are; where they are in the purchase life cycle; who influences their decisions; and what factors come into play that could either encourage or disrupt these decisions, we can be much more effective at actually moving the customer along the cycle to the decision of making a purchase.

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It’s essentially flipping influence marketing on its head and presenting a more effective methodology where the Four Ms of Influence Marketing comes into play.

Breaking Down the Four Ms of Influence Marketing

As I mentioned at the start of the post, I’m an old-timer. It’s helped me realize that standalone tactics rarely work, and that old methods and newer ones can complement each other perfectly when woven together properly.

The Four Ms of Influence Marketing take that old and new and create a defined path for marketing success in social media. While the book goes much deeper into the make-up of the Four Ms, these are the basic tenets:

Make

When you place the customer at the heart of your influence marketing efforts, you can build personas and profiles based on where they are in the purchase life cycle.

  • Are they in the Research stage and looking for information?
  • Perhaps they’re in the Awareness stage and need validation from peers and colleagues?
  • Or maybe they’re further down the road and ready to buy (Purchase stage)

Each stage presents the need for a different tactic and outreach, but by identifying where there are in that path, you can use natural language processing to identify who they’re talking to at each stage.

This allows you to “make influencers”, by connecting with the people who will move the customer into the next stage of the purchase decision. You’re no longer hoping for mass amplification by today’s scored influencers to make an impact – you’re getting straight to the customer via the right person at the right time.

Manage

Once you’ve identified who the “new influencer” is for your target customer, you need to move into the Manage stage. This can take many routes, but for this post, we’ll concentrate on the flow of information to the customer.

Using text analytics and linguistic mapping, we can identify what phrases our influencers uses that cause an action in our target customer. An action could be defined by:

  • Did it cause an increased negative or positive view of our product?
  • Did it move the customer along to the next stage of the purchase life cycle?
  • Did it take the customer off the purchase path altogether?
  • Did it disrupt or enhance our brand message?

These are just some of the high level actions our influencer could cause, and we can map each one to how we approach him or her with our messaging, and that takes us into the next stage.

Monitor

If you ask anyone about social monitoring today, they’ll probably reply with the name of a technology, and looking for positive or negative mentions of a brand.

While monitoring an influence marketing campaign follows the same principles, we need to go deeper to enjoy true success.

Positive and negative sentiment still play an important role, but now we’re monitoring the relationship between a small core group of people – target customer and their immediate circle of influencer(s) based on current need – and the dynamics their conversations have on that target customer.

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The information gathered from this type of monitoring is crucial in making our outreach a success.

  • Who is the influencer we should be connecting with? Using a smartphone purchase as an example, while three types of customer may be interested in the same phone, they have very different needs. What colleagues say and how the phone syncs to the IT department will influence a business user; a couple will be driven by family plans; and teens would be driven by cool factor and apps. Monitoring our customers’ conversation for key needs identifies which influencer we “make” from the first M.
  • What factors are coming into play? We may have an outstanding product, and we’ve highlighted the right influencer, but now there are external factors we need to monitor that could still disrupt our message encouraging the customer to make the purchase. Can they financially afford it?  Are they emotionally invested in our competitor? Do they even truly need it? Are they tied to a contract? Is peer pressure a factor? Understanding these external factors will help us pinpoint where our message wasn’t to blame and how we can stay in the loop for when all the factors are aligned and the customer is ready to purchase.

These are just two areas to monitor, but the list is much longer depending on brand goals and how well we’ve prepared the ground through the Make and Manage part of the Four Ms.

They also help us adapt our tactics on the fly and implement secondary and tertiary influencers where needed, or react to our competitors and their attempts to disrupt our goals being met. Which leads us to our final M:

Measure

I’m a performance marketer, which means pretty much everything is mapped back to a result. While I’ll write off some metrics, the important ones and their subsets will always be tracked, measured, and acted upon to improve future outreach and campaigns.

When it comes to influence marketing, the ability to measure who’s responsible for what is key to truly showing ROI as well as the value of proper influence marketing when integrated as a core part of your business objectives.

  • Who drove the desired action the most?
  • What message permeated the most?
  • What value did the influencer bring compared to financial outlay?
  • How many messages did certain personas need to move to the next stage?
  • How was the campaign perceived?
  • How close to our goals did we come?
  • How was our product or service improved as a result of feedback?
  • Did it add to our bottom line while improving our top line?
  • How effective was our targeting?
  • What was the sum effect on our brand and our competitors?

Again, these are just some of the questions to ask when dissecting the campaign.

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Based on goals, this list will be as simple or as in-depth as you wish it to be – but whatever the depth of the debrief, make sure there is at least one happening.

The Four Ms of Influence Marketing and Your Brand

This post, while reasonably long, just touches the surface of the Four Ms and where they fit in the influence marketing vertical.

They’re part of a much bigger picture – one where today’s influence model has been flipped completely on its head, and a new methodology presented, where real business results can be enjoyed and tied back to influence as a true lead generation and customer acquisition solution.

Influence marketing as defined today needs to change. Public scores and amplified messages may present one way to look at influence; but without action being taken that goes beyond blog posts and social shares, and into what drives a customer to make a purchase, is it really influence or simply a hit and hope tactic?

I know where my money, and that of my clients, is. How about you?

Related
  • http://twitter.com/BeyondtheFunnel Peter Johnston

    Hi Danny,

    Excellent piece of work. Like you I’ve been round the block and I find unlearning what you believe to be true is the hardest part of moving on.

    In that mode I query the old linear idea that we move from Research to Awareness to Purchase (similar to the 19th century AIDA model). I find that more often people come in through Desire – they’ve read about something and think “I want some of that”, then backtrack into “Hang on, there must be some competitors” and only then start the more logical evaluation.

    In your book (which I’ve bought but not yet finished) you also make a lot about how customers influence eachother. I find that you are never selling to one person and there is no longer a “champion” to sell the idea to the rest of the team – everyone is doing their own research and is at a different stage of buying knowledge.

    Last – and most important – I find that because of Push marketing they hear about something long before there is a formal buying process at all and triage – Yes/No/Maybe. By the time it gets to the point where they create a budget and authority to build a buying proposal, they already have a lot of pre-conceived ideas on vendors etc. Gartner reckoned that if you were on the short-list when buying process started you were 80% more likely to get the business than if you came in late.

    Surely all of that changes the Make stage and you have to influence the influencers at all times, not just appropriately to the buyer (singular) and their stage in the cycle?

    Peter

    • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

      Hi there Peter, thank you, and great thoughts.

      Desire definitely plays a big part, and we look at how desire and other emotions come into effect in Ch. 2, as well as throughout the book.

      The desire still needs to come from somewhere, though – it could be the marketing message, it could be stumbling upon our product while researching a competitor’s, or it could be from seeing your peer drive up in a shiny new car. Each one (for me) is tied to both the Research and Awareness stage, and the impact that new knowledge has on your emotions.

      Having said that, even with a strong desire instilled in the potential customer, there are still many factors that could disrupt the purchase. This ties into the Gartner report you reference. While there’s a much higher chance of conversion the earlier you are in the customer’s decision-making process, the factors that can disrupt that can be more powerful.

      What the book (hopefully) provides is the framework to identify what these disruptors are, and how to sway the message back on track based on data and business smarts.

      And yes, you most definitely need to influence at all times of the cycle, and the book dives deep into that in the middle and later sections.

      Thanks for buying, and hope you find it useful, mate!

      • Pepe

        4 Bs and 4 Ms and 4 Bs for the same blah blah over and over. The same old soup with waow colorful cryptic graphics and charts… Yawn .. Get a life, Maaate.

  • Graciousstore

    This is a very interesting and informative post.. Certainly any system including marketing works better when you blend the new and the old strategies. It may requires some sort of “study” to know the best way to integrate the new strategies into the old for optimal result.

  • Anna Pham

    Thanks Danny, I think you really nail the topic by showing the 4Ms. Those aspects really make it easier for people to understand about influence marketing.

    • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

      Cheers, Anna, glad it was useful!

  • http://www.wearerecurve.com/ Bradley Robb

    I like that you’re taking a more detailed and nuanced view of influence. During the Make and Manage phases, how strong are your correlative relationships between influencer and targeted buyer?