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How to Run Influencer Marketing Campaigns for Service-based Businesses

A woman multitasking technology devices for influencer marketing campaigns.

The demand for influencer marketing across all industries

While influencer marketing has taken off quickly across some markets, others are slower to adapt. Nonetheless, as brands from all industries learn the nuanced skill of partnering with influencers, their marketing ROI takes off.

Though influencer marketing as a formal marketing discipline is a relatively new phenomenon, enough performance data is demonstrating that consumers and clients alike prefer authentic engagement over traditional advertising.

Where some marketers remain stumped pertains to how influencers can benefit service-based businesses.

The good news is that influencers are well-equipped to promote services with just as much success as they do products. In this blog, we’re going to discuss how to use influencers to benefit your services business.

What all influencer marketing campaigns have in common

Before we dive headfirst into using influencers for your service-based business, it’s essential to understand why influencer marketing works.

Regardless of whether you sell a product or service, consumers and clients respond to influencers in ways that they don’t to other marketing techniques. This result is particularly true because buyers know that you are biased toward your own brand.

Whether a client, consumer, or B2B partnership, all buyers are people that manage emotions and relationships. Influencers are masters at building trust with people from all walks of life. As a result, influencer campaigns connect with buyers better for the following reasons:

  • Influencers sell experiences to their audience.
  • Influencers are expert storytellers.
  • Influencers nurture authentic relationships with members of their online communities.

Selling an experience

Influencers promote a certain kind of lifestyle to members of their audience. Achieving a certain quality of life is no less relevant to services as it is to products.

During influencer campaigns, the experience your services offer is what influencers will promote. And because influencers are some of the most creative thinkers of our day, they will be able to help you create a compelling campaign that will resonate with buyers.

Telling a story

Every buyer story is one of a person (or a group of people) with an unresolved desire or need. Tension mounts as the one experiencing pain or frustration begins learning how to wrap words around their needs and desires.

Then along comes a solution in the form of a product or service. Not only does that product or service address a particular desire or need, but it also brings joy to the buyer.

With their problem sufficiently addressed, the customer’s life is forever changed. And while more challenges await them on the horizon, they are content at this moment in time.

Influencers have a remarkable ability to be a voice for those with a specific set of problems, longings, aspirations, and goals. Influencers connect with people in ways that most businesses never thought possible.

Authentic connections with a target audience

Traditional marketing and advertising can be inauthentic.

And while some inauthentic tactics still work, it usually takes more money and effort to stand out from all the other branded voices insisting that their brand is better than everyone else.

Buyers long for authenticity. They want information that they can trust, and one of the most excellent examples of trustworthy content arrives by way of their favorite social media personality.

Most influencers are not celebrities. They are ordinary people living somewhat routine lives. 

Influencers are successful because they know how to engage people sharing similar values, hobbies, and life circumstances. When an influencer endorses a product, audiences treat those endorsements like raving reviews from a trusted friend.

And yet, an influencer’s voice is revered in much the same way as a celebrity. Audiences aspire to the influencer’s quality of life and, at times, may live vicariously through them. 

An influencer’s authenticity is best represented by the quantity and quality of their follower engagements. When an influencer posts, their followers flock to comment, share, or otherwise engage with the post.

The result of influencer marketing is an enormous amount of authentic user-generated content effortlessly promoting your brand.

Influencer marketing for eCommerce direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands

Influencer marketing is a tactic most often employed by eCommerce D2C brands to drive brand awareness, web traffic and online sales.

Many of these brands have been able to grow their business without the assistance of traditional retailers. Influencers promote D2C brands directly to members of their online communities, and consumers flock to digital checkout lines.

Among the most common ways that eCommerce brands use influencers are:

  • Sponsored social media posts
  • Guest blogs/articles
  • Video/written product reviews
  • Product giveaways and contests
  • Limited-time promotion announcements (like holiday discounts)
  • Affiliate links and swipe-ups
  • New product launches

Influencer marketing for service-based businesses

Naturally, a service-based business can’t send product samples for influencers to use and then promote. 

But many of the same influencer marketing principles apply to services just as they did with direct-to-consumer products. Remember, influencers sell an experience, tell incredible stories, and engage authentically with their followers.

What kind of influencers work best with service-based brands?

Each service-based brand has different marketing needs and objectives. Like most influencer marketing managers, you will need to do some trial-and-error to find out which influencers are the best fit for your brand.

Often, your influencer program should reflect a variety of influencers to achieve multiple objectives and reach numerous audience segments.

That said, here are some of the best influencer types for service-based businesses:

  • Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)  – These influencers are usually industry experts with a great deal of influence among other industry experts. KOLs can be among the most effective types of influencers to recruit for your brand if your services are business-to-business or more refined.
  • Micro Influencers – Many micro influencers create niche content highly relevant to a number of service-related industries. For software and IT service brands, micro influencers can be especially lucrative. Additionally, health, wellness, and beauty influencers in the micro space make great ambassadors for spas or therapy-based service brands.
  • Nano influencers located nearby – Frequently, your services revolve around a particular destination. If this is the case for you, your best option is to partner with a local Nano influencer. Though these influencers have a smaller following (between 1,000 and 10,000 followers), Nano influencers maintain deep connections with each audience member. 
  • Customer Advocacy: Clients with a strong social following – If you have one or two clients with an unusually active social media account, you can partner with those clients to promote your brand. Think of this approach as a more intentional form of referral marketing. Pseudo-famous (or perhaps even actually famous) clients that love your services can become valuable customer advocates .
  • Employees with a strong social following – If clients with a strong social media following can become influencers for your brand, so can your employees. That said, treating your employees well converts your workforce into an army of brand ambassadors organically. By giving your employees ideas for how to drive more business via social media activity, you might be surprised how much you receive by way of user-generated content, web traffic, and sales. 
  • Celebrities – Though a bit expensive, celebrity endorsements for services can be just as effective as they are for products. Celebrities have enormous reach and can inject your brand with a healthy dose of credibility. That said, even celebrity influencers should maintain some sort of relevant connection to your service or industry. Some industries – like SaaS companies – would be hard-pressed to find a celebrity that fits their brand.

How can an influencer promote your service?

After identifying the influencers that can help you achieve your marketing goals, the next step is to create a campaign that will motivate buyers to act.

Ideally, you and your influencer should collaborate on the best approach. Here are some ideas for your influencers:

  • Using your services and talking about their experience – By far, the best way to incorporate influencers into your campaign is to have them experience your services for themselves. That way, they will be able to offer their followers an objective narrative about their experience. You can equip your influencers with referral links to credit them for web traffic and sales.
  • Hosting co-branded discussions on industry-relevant topics – Many influencers host their own podcast or YouTube channel. If your services are relevant to an influencer’s audience, ask them to host a co-branded discussion for their followers to enjoy.
  • Inviting them to brand-hosted events – If your service-based business hosts or sponsors industry events, invite your influencers. You can ask them to help you promote both your brand and the event. Additionally, many influencers can stream events live if they feel it will deliver value to their online communities.
  • Using blogs or vlogs to create exhaustive service reviews – If your services merit a thorough review by an influencer with a blog or vlog, you can partner with those influencers to promote your brand. While influencers do their utmost to remain positive (especially if you’ve hired them), remember that an influencer’s loyalty is first and foremost to their followers. They will promote your services as long as doing so will help their audience. Influencer reviews can offer invaluable user feedback, but for the campaign to be authentic, your influencers must be honest and objective.
  • Inviting the influencer to participate in a case study – If your influencer is also a happy client, encourage them to join you for a case study focusing on them using your services. You can interview your client, host Q&As, and publish the content on everyone’s social channels. 

How do you set your influencer marketing goals as a service-based business?

Calculating ROI for your influencer marketing campaign should encompass a handful of different metrics. 

For example, web traffic directly contributes to the sale of services. Additionally, brand awareness puts your business on the radar of more potential clients.

That said, you must outline your goals for any given marketing campaign. Among the top goals that influencers can help you achieve are:

When recruiting influencers, make sure that you communicate your marketing objectives to your influencers. Being transparent about your campaign goals will help them make your campaign a success.

How do you run an influencer marketing campaign for a service-based business?

Influencer relationship management works similarly for service-based businesses as it does for product-based companies.

Before your campaign launch, you should produce a campaign brief for your influencers outlining the following details:

  • A campaign overview
  • Defined content deliverables, (such as reviews, sponsored posts, event itinerary, etc.)
  • Influencer/affiliate links to help you track the success of each influencer post
  • A formal campaign agreement (to include compensation, campaign approach, and message)
  • Necessary contracts granting you rights to repurpose influencer content 
  • Campaign timeline

Once your influencer campaign begins, you will need to track your influencer posts and subsequent engagement by that influencer’s audience.

You should begin noticing results quickly, and you’ll want to track those results over several weeks.

After a campaign, discuss the results with your influencer(s). Consider making tweaks to your campaign and then re-launching.

As you gain more experience managing influencer campaigns, you’ll be able to identify your top influencers (make sure that you convert these top-performers into long-term relationships). Additionally, you’ll recognize the most effective strategies for achieving your influencer marketing goals.

How do you manage your influencer relationships?

Managing influencer relationships – from recruiting to influencer attribution – requires attention to detail and strong administrative skills.

Influencers are business-minded. And as such, you will want to treat your influencer partnerships with care and respect. 

It is very easy to drown in the details if you are manually overseeing and tracking your influencer program. Spreadsheets work for a time, but if you want to scale your influencer program, you’re going to need help from an influencer marketing software like GRIN.

GRIN’s intuitive tools automatically calculate engagement, track influencer posts, produce campaign briefs, and integrate with all the leading influencer social channels (including YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok).

Whatever management tools you use, you’ll want to make sure that they improve your ability to manage influencer relationships. In particular, the right tools will keep you from getting lost in the details of influencer campaign management, saving you time and money.

Conclusion: Influencer marketing is not just for eCommerce or direct-to-consumer brands – It works for all industries.

In this article, we discussed how influencer marketing is successfully integrating with all industries, to include service-based businesses.Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be an approach that only eCommerce, D2C brands get to enjoy. By recognizing the value that influencers can bring to your brand – selling an experience, storytelling, and authentic engagement – any business can experience the benefits of influencer marketing.

This article originally appeared in the Grin.co blog and has been published here with permission.

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