Did you know that your delegates can be your biggest marketing asset? Are you getting the most from them?

External endorsements of your brand and event can do more for your marketing efforts than countless promotional ads, emails, blogs, and the rest. After all, this is why we chase after all those glowing testimonials and reviews right!?

But when those endorsements come from a renowned individual – or an “influencer” – their marketing power skyrockets.

Who cuts it as an Influencer?

These individuals have a lot of sway in the industry they operate in. From esteemed journalists, peers, consultants, authors, enthusiasts, bloggers, etc. they’re the type of people to whom others listen and respect.

Whatever their background, all influencers have at least one thing in common, they are perceived as experts in their field. With this their opinions are highly valuable and influential.  When it comes to calculating their value to your brand and event, Forbes offers the following equation to help you gauge the level of influence a particular individual has.

Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers

Why you need to bag one for your event?

Getting an influencer to endorse your brand and even better attend your event will really help to put you on the map. With their strong voice and wide reach across an audience that’s highly relevant your event, their word can widen your marketing efforts and tap into new pools of potential delegates

Since the rise of social media, there are more influencers than ever – and, more than anything else, they love to make their voices heard. In fact, most influencers depend and thrive on engaging with their audience, and they’re constantly on the lookout for new things to talk about.

The main question is, how do you go about influencing an influencer to promote your brand or event?

Welcome the concept of Influencer Marketing…

Influencer Marketing is the deliberate attempt to encourage influencers to promote your brand or event.

The first step in Influencer Marketing is knowing your audience. Having this understanding enables you to spot who your brand’s influencers are. You may already be doing business with some fairly high-profile people; if so, reaching out to these may be your best way into Influencer Marketing. Think about inviting these types of people to your event for free (in the hope that they talk about it afterwards), or even offering them some sort of reward for doing so.

If you’re unable to identify existing influencers in your customer base, you can always attempt to contact influencers in relevant industries. Be warned though, some influencers (though certainly not all) may be wary of affiliate marketing or “posts-for-cash” since any indication that what they say is anything other than their own thoughts may damage their own reputation, and that’s something they certainly won’t want to do. So use your discretion.

But, identifying these influencers is only half of the story. The real key to positive word or mouth and customer referral is to always focus on, and deliver, an exceptional customer experience.

There are plenty of things you can do to make sure that your customers’ experiences are positive. For example, offer promotional discounts, loyalty programs, or attempt to communicate with them directly on social media and other channels. Training staff to engage with customers effectively is a great foundation for this!

When does the Influencer come into play?

When it comes to using Influencer Marketing in the events industry, you ideally want influencers to generate buzz before an event takes place (in the form of a social media shout-out or, even better, a blog). This way anyone sitting on the fence about which industry event they will attend this year has the openness to be swayed towards your event.

We understand how just how valuable these people and their recommendations are, especially the ones singing and shouting about you on social media. To help our clients spot the best influencers and top promoters within their event line-up we’ve built speaker/sponsor rankings into our Twitter service.

That said, getting influencers to comment on your event after it’s happened will still promote your brand at large. What’s more these can also be used to endorse follow up, related and next year’s events.

Getting influencers to talk about what you do is always a good thing (so long as they say nice things, that is), so don’t stop influencing those influencers!