The Art of Influence: Who’s an Influencer, Who’s an Endorser, and How Do I Talk to Them?
Want to know one of the most efficient and scalable ways to amplify your book’s message?
Influence marketing (using big names to advocate for a product) is not a concept confined to the publishing world. It’s been around in one form or another as long as people have tried to sell stuff, but it’s taken on a whole new relevance in the past few years. (Even the Google search term “influence marketing” has experienced growth greater than 5,000% in the past year.)
The increased attention to influencers makes sense, doesn’t it? Thanks to this thing we call the internet, millions of voices clamour for our attention each day. More than ever before, consumers look to the voices they already consider “authoritative” to inform their buying decisions.
People don’t trust brands. They rarely trust strangers. But they do trust familiar people.People don’t trust brands. They rarely trust strangers. But they do trust familiar people. Click To Tweet
The lesson for marketers?
Do the research and foster the relationships to leverage those “familiar” authoritative people who have pull with your target audience.
Master the art of influence by gently sliding your book into the spotlight owned by your target audience’s current voices of authority.
Stats show that across industries, influencer marketing is the fastest-growing and most cost-effective channel.
Numerous studies show that consumers are more driven by peer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from familiar people than they are by pure advertising and the “brand voice” itself.
All that to say, influence marketing is a strong strategy and–when done well–will amplify an author’s message and persuade consumers more than any other marketing tactic.
I often find that clients and authors are confused, though. “Whom do I ask for endorsements? What’s an influencer? Are they different groups of people? How do I talk to them?”
Endorsers versus influencers: what’s the difference?
Let’s start with endorsers, as you’ll approach them first in the book process. Endorsers are the people whose names lend legitimacy to yours. They’re the people who, when permanently attached to your book, give it distinct authority with your target audience.
When choosing endorsers, target 15-30 big-name folks who have clout with your desired buyers. More endorsements are not necessarily better. Relevance wins, so be choosy. Here are some questions to consider with making a list of potential endorsers:
- Who has clout with my target audience?
- Who has clout with a lookalike audience?
- Whose name offers legitimacy to mine?
- Whose name makes my prospective buyers say “yes”?
- Who is a best-selling author/blogger with my audience?
The goal of endorsers? To get strong blurbs of praise from big names. These endorsements, accompanied by influential names, can be used on the front cover (the biggest name!), the back cover (the second biggest!), and the inside. Use them also on social media graphics, landing page copy, and more.
Influencers, on the other hand, make up a larger (100-200+) and more general group. Your influencer list will be anyone and everyone you know who has any sort of authority and prominence–whether big or small, online or offline.
Influencers build and spread buzz around book launch, and the factors that make a “good” influencer cover the gamut. Some good influencers know you really well and are just over-the-top loyal. Others are passionate about your subject matter. Others have a crazy social media following or access to huge email lists. Think outside the box.
Think far and wide when you make a list of influencers. Go through the contacts in your phonebook or your email and just write down names. Do it slowly, allowing each name you write down to jolt your mind to two or three others. This is always how it works.
The goal of influencers? To fill the internet with buzz about your book leading up to your book release and on launch day. A request for influence is generally a request for someone to post on social media, write about the book on their blog, or email their list(s).
Note: Endorsers can be on your influencer list. All endorsers can be considered influencers, but not vice versa.
How do I approach them?
Once you have your lists of endorsers and influencers, it’s time to make the ask. For both groups, be sure you are strategic in your approach, personal in your messaging, and clear in your ask.
Give them ample time.
For endorsers, start communication at least 5-6 months prior to book release. You’ll want to build in time for these folks to consider, respond, read the book, and receive a number of reminders. For influencers, reach out 60-90 days prior to launch. Again, build in time for them to get familiar with the book and for you to send a few gentle reminders and touches. Be clear about deadlines. Be smart around reminders.
Start with email.
It’s important to build in memorable “snail mail” communication–more personalized than the ol’ digital copy and paste–but at first, email is best. It’s a straightforward way to warm up the endorser or influencer and let them know that a special package is on it ways. Build anticipation and foster the relationship. (Use email later in the process to gently remind people, as well.)
Follow up with snail mail.
Let your second touch be snail mail, and make it zing. I always tell authors to include a little gift (something memorable), a physical copy of the book, and a handwritten letter. This can be a big job, especially if you’re going out to hundreds, so be strategic here. The bottom line is that you offer personalization and something unique. Keep in mind, many influential folks receive requests like this often. Make yours stand out.
Clearly ask for action.
I’ve seen too many authors fumble through their requests and end a long letter without having actually said anything. While it’s tempting to beat around the bush in an effort to look humble, that does nothing but confuse. Instead, state your request clearly. “I’d be so honored if you’d be willing to support my book. Would you be open to writing a brief endorsement? The deadline to do so is April 25.” Explicitly (but gently) state what you’re hoping for and when you need it.
Find a connection.
Avoid that cold outreach to a big name. Most likely, it won’t yield a result. Even if your book is right in the sweet spot of a influencer’s passion, an email from a “stranger” is rarely successful. As I said above, many of the folks who are considered most prominent within a certain subject niche get bombarded with these types of asks. To stand out among the crowd, find a connection. Ask a mutual friend to introduce you, or ask if you can reference their name. That “warmth” will go a long way.
Equip and empower.
Especially when requesting action from influencers around book launch, be strategic and specific. One of the biggest factors that dictate whether or not people will help you is ease of process. Make it so, so, so easy and direct. Tell people exactly what date you’d like to post, and give them ammo to do so. The easiest way to do these is to send them to a “share” page: a one-page website that houses pre-written tweets, Facebook posts, blog copy, and email copy. Be sure to include the hashtag and URL.
Use real-person language.
Relate to these people as people–human to human. I see too many authors swing between one of two spectrums: either they use robot speak and ask too abrasively, or they get all warm and fuzzy and never actually make the ask. Somewhere in the middle wins. Explain the heart and promise of the book, how you hope it will impact readers, and how grateful you’d be for this influencer’s support. And then pivot into a clear and direct ask. You need both sides.
Remember, again, that more is not better. Lots of endorsements are great. Lots of tweets are awesome. But if they’re not from influential folks that resonate with your audience, they’re futile. And if they’re not written in lingo that hits the felt needs of your audience, they’ll fall flat. Over and over, keep in mind, it’s all about audience. Start there… and go after the influence that’s already persuading them daily.