Influencer Marketing Drives Growth for Made in America Companies

Influencer Marketing - Kurt Uhlir interviewAdvancements in social media and mobile have been incredible, but it’s also made it increasingly noisy for companies to reach potential customers and even brand ambassadors. To help cut through the noise, marketers at consumer brands are increasingly marketing together with different types of influencers.

Today, cross-promotions, marketing partnerships, affiliate marketing programs are everywhere. Big companies like The Home Depot and Microsoft Gaming all the way to smaller companies are increasingly finding ways to market together with different types of partners to help each other reach their goals. These companies frequently coordinate marketing campaigns with other brands, thousands of affiliates and even local stores. However, those brands working with influencers are moving the needle and growing quickly.

To understand influencer marketing better, we called Kurt Uhlir, successful entrepreneur and high-growth executive, about this trend and to understand why brands are marketing together with influencers. He was on the front lines at NAVTEQ, helping define the spatial and location-based industries. During his tenure leading competitive strategy and business affairs at NAVTEQ, they grew annual revenue from $80 million to more than $1.4 billion, including an $880 million IPO in 2004 and 2008 $8.1 billion sale to Nokia. In addition he also led global skunk works teams and is the lead inventor on fundamental patents covering all check-in services and mobile advertising – 12 U.S. and international patents in total across 5 industries. Later, he joined the small team at Vitrue that literally created social media management and was acquired by Oracle for $300+M. In addition, he’s been an active angel investor in Chicago and Alabama, so he’s a good one to talk with about what’s coming next in technology and social media.

“Marketers at different companies and organizations have found ways to work together for years. They frequently call it by different names – partner marketing, channel marketing, but fundamentally, it comes down to one or more marketers collaborating on marketing campaigns to reach additional segments and extend their reach. I like to call it Together Marketing”, said Uhlir. “The strategy lets each marketer reach a broader audience than they otherwise could alone.”

“This same strategy can be applied with influencers as well, and that’s how influencer marketing began. What is influencer marketing? Influencer Marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on key individuals or types of individuals to drive your brand’s messages to your target market. It identifies those individuals that have influence over potential customers and encourages them to become more active with the brands they already like. Influencer marketing reaches potential customers where they are and from a voice they trust.”

“Every brand wants to work with celebrities but I’ve seen the most success from brands that are able to motivate the micro influencers in their target communities.” Uhlir continued. “That’s what Jeremy and I discovered that led to us creating Sideqik, one of the first influencer marketing platforms.”

“Influencers thrive on being social. They’re actively engaging with their friends and people they’re connected with across different social channels. It’s not just that they’re sharing on social. Many influencers feel that it’s their responsibility to tell their followers about their experience with brands. FleishmanHillard and Hearst Magazines found that 73% of millennials feel it is their responsibility to help friends and family make smart purchase decisions. With each new influencer you bring onto your campaign, you’re able to tap into the growth of another audience.”

It’s highly effective for brands too. “Research shows that offers shared by a trusted influencer or brand ambassador convert at a 4x – 12x higher rate than offers shared by brands.”

At The Made in America Movement, we like to work together with our member companies, brand ambassadors and influencers on different marketing campaigns throughout the year. Sometimes we have a common goal. At other times, each influencer is looking for something a little different. However, the combination and multiple audiences helps everyone. We’ve also been extremely thankful for Sideqik’s – not only do they have an incredible tool but their team have been continued supporters of MAM.

A successful “Influencer Marketing” campaign can be great when planned well. If you’re not already using this strategy within your company, pick a few potential influencers that you already know and start thinking about a campaign.