Five Steps to Develop and Grow Your Influencer Marketing Program
It’s easy to scroll Instagram or TikTok and instantly spot influencer marketing messages. Phrases such as “Link in bio!” and “I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what products I use” have become ubiquitous, and media is more crowded than ever with influencers (and now, “deinfluencers”) telling us where to and where not to spend our money.
The American Marketing Association defines influencer marketing as focusing on “leveraging individuals who have influence over potential buyers and orienting marketing activities around these individuals to drive a brand message to the larger market.”
Over the years, influencer marketing has risen dramatically in value and is anticipated to generate $22 billion in 2025.
While that is an extremely lucrative business, there is good news: an effective influencer marketing campaign requires neither celebrities nor million-dollar investments. Your members, key volunteers, your program committees, your thought leaders and subject matter experts, and even your association’s leadership could serve as an influencer. These are people that your members and key audiences can relate to and trust to help them make their own decisions.
Last year the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB), the largest credentialing body for pharmacy technicians, partnered with McKinley Advisors, an association consulting firm, to create an influencer marketing program for their credentialing campaigns to drive new certificate applications and increase awareness of their offerings.
“Promoting credentials can be pretty dry, and takes a big commitment from our audience,” said Jill Spivey, senior director of marketing and communications at PTCB. “There are many steps involved to earn our credentials, some of which include completing further education and years of on-the-job experience. We wanted to find a way to highlight individual stories that would both inspire our audience and provide examples of how to move forward in the process.”
After several rounds of refinement to PTCB’s certificate marketing strategy, they decided it was time to leverage these stories and develop a strong cohort of influencers.
Our teams developed the Tech Trek campaign to illustrate how PTCB could support technicians on their professional development journey. This influencer marketing content fits into their credential and certificate marketing campaigns by exploring how pharmacy technicians can take the next steps on their “Tech Trek” based on real-world success stories. Their influencers, called Trek Navigators, represent a variety of backgrounds, work settings, and career goals.
We used the following five steps to guide the influencer marketing campaign and grow awareness around their certificates and credentialing offerings:
Step 1: Know Your Audience
Every strong marketing campaign begins with research. Knowing the various segments of your membership and their demographics gets you halfway there, but personas will bring life to your data. Why do your members get into this field? What does their daily schedule look like, both on and off the job? What little habits and tricks get them through the week?
PTCB sent a survey to its database of pharmacy technicians and then interviewed 20 respondents to get to know them a little better. They asked questions such as:
- What are your goals?
- How has PTCB supported you along the way?
- What advice would you give to pharmacy technicians just starting their careers?
While these individuals might look very similar in a database, they had fascinating stories to share that are both unique and relatable.
Step 2: Strategize Your Influencer Marketing Campaign
Influencer marketing is not a one-size-fits-most strategy. You have space to be creative and figure out what works for your organization, your goals and your marketing team’s resources. Perhaps you focus on collecting in-depth testimonials and case studies from your members, or you could even run a member referral campaign, and encourage your members to recruit their own colleagues with an incentive-based program.
For PTCB, pharmacy technicians were excited to tell their stories and inspire their peers. After interviewing pharmacy technicians, PTCB’s marketing team took these conversations and set up profiles for this cohort of ambassadors on their website. These profiles talked about their career challenges, successes and goals, but also what makes them human: Do you drink coffee or tea in the morning? What are your go-to sneakers for being on your feet all day? What is your favorite medication to dispense?
Step 3: Recruit your Influencers
Start with who you know. Engaged members are more likely to engage again, so your volunteers on task forces and committees may be likely to help you get started as your initial influencers.
To recruit their first batch of ambassadors, PTCB started with a list of 100 pharmacy technicians with whom they already had existing relationships due to prior engagement experience. They used these individuals to set up the template for their influencer program, then used the content they created together to recruit more influencers via an online form. The marketing team continues to monitor this form and reaches out to pharmacy technicians with compelling stories.
One of PTCB’s Trek Navigators, Katie Plahn, was excited to showcase the options available to pharmacy technicians growing their careers.
“I thought sharing my story for the Trek Navigator campaign was a good way to highlight the ways that the careers (not just jobs) of pharmacy technicians are growing and expanding,” said Plahn.
Step 4: Develop Influencer Content
After you have confirmed your influencers you can ask them their preferred way to get involved! If they would like to be videotaped then you can conduct and record Zoom interviews that can be turned into video content with some light editing. If they wouldn’t like to be videotaped then they can fill out answers on a form that you can feature on your website or social media.
You can host a local media day and invite a small group of influencers into your office to collect some photos and videos. You could also ask an influencer if you can meet them at their workplace to get footage or if they can provide footage that they take. Not only is it a great way to collect influencer content, but it helps you reconnect with your members and your industry.
“We have found that we receive the most interaction and engagement from user-generated content. Pharmacy technicians want to see themselves in the media, and we’ve shifted just about all of our online content with that idea in mind,” said Spivey.
Step 5: Integrate Influencer Content
Once you have your influencer content it’s time to start plugging it into your marketing channels. Infuse your influencer’s stories into your marketing campaigns, as appropriate, and get excited to watch your engagement rates increase.
Not only does influencer marketing benefit your engagement, but it also empowers your audiences to reflect on their career paths and goals.
“My favorite thing about sharing my story with PTCB’s Trek Navigator campaign has been the response from former co-workers who saw the feature and reached out to say hello, catch up and express their interest in proposing advanced roles like mine to leadership at their current organizations.,” said Plahn. “I still have friends at many of the places I used to work as a technician, and to see them explore these options and potentially elevate techs and their scope of practice is amazing.”
So, what’s next? PTCB plans to continue building platforms for pharmacy technicians to share their stories and inspire their peers. “We want to move forward with less highly-produced content, and more raw user-generated photo and video content as much as possible since that’s what seems to engage our audience the best.”
Your influencer marketing campaigns can be tailored to your unique needs and priorities. A successful influencer marketing campaign boils down to letting your members and stakeholders breathe life into your value proposition. Your job is to give them the tools to do it.
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