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Insights into Influencer Marketing

Kerry Guard • Thursday, September 7, 2023 • 64 minutes to listen

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Bryan Grover

Join us for an engaging conversation with Bryan Grover, Founder & Copywriter of Grover Consulting, as he shares his insights on the significance of influencer marketing, his unique approach to it, and the outcomes he has experienced. Discover the secrets behind successful influencer marketing strategies and gain valuable knowledge from an industry expert. Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn and be inspired!


Kerry Guard: Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.

Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time with tech marketing leaders. We are live. If you're here with us today, August 3 2023, at 12pm Pacific Time, please comment. Hello, Trevor. I see you, sir. See you say hello, let Bryan and I know you're here because the beauty of being live is that we get to answer all of your beautiful questions as they come in in real time, and I'll be sure to do that. Today I'm joined with Bryan Grover huge shout out to Trevor van Warden who's already here waiting for us who he was kind enough to recommend Bryan and I'm so glad he did. Bryan is a marketing consultant, writer and content creator helping b2b Tech and SAS brands sound more human. He's put this to the test across industries ranging from martech cybersecurity, healthcare, banking, insurance, legal and probably few more that he's forgotten when he wrote this for me. He's the co author of the forthcoming b2b influencer marketing with Nick Bennett, who I'll be speaking to later. And the bi weekly newsletter, The Creator circle, you can usually find Brian near a stack of books, and that he's trying to organize Bucky is picking them up and reading instead, as you go to his LinkedIn, you can literally see him under a stack of books. So he's not joking around. In this case, Bryan, welcome to the show.


Bryan Grover: Thank you so much for having me, Kerry, excited to be here.

Kerry Guard: I'm so excited to have you and yay, books. For those who don't follow Bryan on LinkedIn. Bryan, what are you currently reading? And why did you pick up that particular book.

Bryan Grover: So I'm usually bouncing between a couple of different books, it like they're always in different genres, because like, I can't keep two crime novels. In line. It's just too difficult. But the book I'm reading is called existential physics. And I, you know, I got into existentialism when I was emo. And I mean, I still am like a recovering emo kid. But like, I was really that when I was 16. And it's been one of my favorite philosophies ever since. And so I saw that on the cover. And I was like, I have to read it. I don't know anything about physics, my physics, my physics teacher in high school got fired halfway through the year. So yeah, we're gonna see how this goes. I get about every other word. But it's really been interesting. And it's not through lack of trying on the author's part. She's an exceptional writer, whose name escapes me because she's German. And German names are tough.

Kerry Guard: Fair enough. There's this other book that I'll send you. And I'm also blanking on the name of it. But it's this idea of intersectionality between two very uncommon topics. So I see some parallel drawing in your future between marketing and physics. And I look forward to those.

Bryan Grover: Oh, absolutely. Creativity starts with those weird intersections in my opinion. So.

Kerry Guard: They do absolutely. What a wonderful intro between giving us a little insight into your into your book life and that wonderful write up you you gave to me. So thank you for doing my my job for me. I appreciate you. But tell us your story, Bryan, like from your own. I mean, the while those were your words, in more detail, tell us your story. What do you do? And how did you get there?

Bryan Grover: So it's kind of the irony never, never ceases to amaze me of being on, you know, Tea Time with tech marketing leaders. Usually we're talking about marketing software. And I was a computer science major when I first started in college, but I was the absolute worst programmer. I was like, one of the people still left at x or Twitter or whatever it is. Like I just I don't, I was bad at it. I was really bad. So I left on what I've deemed an unintentional college sabbatical. I dropped out for a bit because of stuff going on. And when I went back, I looked down my transcript, and I had straight A's in English, and I had like, pretty bad grades and computer science. So I was taking those classes for fun. I've always loved books and reading and writing. I'm not one of those Stephen King types that was writing stories at like six years old and submitting them to the New Yorker, but I've always loved it. So I was like, I'll just I'll just give this a try. And it was one semester and I was like, Okay, I just want to do this for the rest of my life. I had no idea what that meant. I knew I didn't want to be a teacher I knew I just wanted to write. So you know, the journalism thing I knew was really tough. But then I ended up getting a job at the Boston Globe of all places. And I was working in sales support for the real estate team, who were just the most wonderful people helping a really dumb college student learn how sales and marketing works. And they had the additional difficulty of selling to sellers. So to all my mahr tech and sales tech friends out there, I see you, I hear you. Selling ad space to real estate agents is kind of in the same vein. So from there, it just kind of escalated, I just kept this singular focus on make a living writing. And what that ended up meaning is I ended up at a healthcare publisher writing a whole bunch of emails, I then ended up at a Information Management Organization, managing their tech stack, because they also needed an email writer. And that was enough writing for me to be like, Sure, I'll do that. And then I was an in house copywriter at a process automation software company. And then with some changes, they were like, We love you, we want to keep you but you're you're not going to be a writer anymore. And at that point, I, I was kind of working with a couple of other brands. And I was like, I'm just gonna see if I can make this thing work. So I've been I've worked with about 45 to 50 brands at this point. Mostly tech, but yeah, I've seen all the horror stories and I, I dream about them. Unfortunately, sometimes.

Kerry Guard: Might mean we're all working a little too hard when that happens. Yeah, that's very true. It's, it's a balance between loving what we do but then dreaming. Exactly. I love this. Selling to sellers, the struggle is real. We all see you I mean, marketing to marketers, marketers, marketing marketers, same deal. You also made a new category, which I totally appreciate, which is writing to live living to write. Trevor, I feel like Brian is a rabbit pulled out of a hat here. So thank you, all the magic tricks are happening right now in this intersectionality of all of the things and the lives, the lives you have live in terms of what you're doing right now, which is a multitude of things, which we'll unpack in a second. What's one challenge you're currently feeling? Honestly, I feel like you're having a challenge. You're probably like deeply feeling it. What's your challenge?

Bryan Grover: I think this is something that a lot of like, I never really understood serial entrepreneurs until I started out on kind of my own thing. And I am just involved in so many different things. And I, I have so many different things that I want to do. And to quote David Allen, who wrote getting things done, you can do anything, but you can't do everything. And that's, yeah, that's the that's the struggle that I'm having right now is, is kind of figuring out and letting go of certain things. Whether that means like, I still want to keep this client relationship. But I'm gonna bring in another writer to help me and I'll still be the copy chief. And like, Everything will pass through me but like, figuring out where I can let go a little bit has been the biggest struggle and the biggest growth, honestly, this year because it was just a hamster wheel. And yes, I I left out one key part. Before college, I did work through high school and still entertain people today doing magic tricks. I was a standard card magician in high school because my parents told me to get a job. And I said, Okay, this is what I want to do.

Kerry Guard: Oh, the intersectionality you're doing what you love and make money from it. I mean, what I did the same thing. So I I was a total dark work. Dark Room nerd. You couldn't pull me out of the dark room if you tried. And my mom told me I need to get a job. I said fine. And I went and got a job at a photo studio. Great. No problem.

Bryan Grover: I loved your post. Yeah, I loved your post about what you took away from like what you still use today from something that's completely different than you know your your current, you know, money, whatever you're doing to put put food on the table for yourself and your Family or whatever, it's, you never really leave all of those lives you've lived behind. They're just like a little bit of a part of what you're doing going forward.

Kerry Guard: Yes, and what and a lot like you are living, you live multiple lives. But I also feel like, you're to your point, you're trying to get a bunch of things done right now that sort of coincide with all of those things you've done in the past. So give us a little bit of a taste, if you will, before we dive into our topic, of all the things that you are currently trying to get done, because it is it is a bit of a list of what you got going on over there.

Bryan Grover: I haven't thought about this at all. So mostly out of you know, like denial and making sure I know it. But right now I'm working with three different clients on their website, helping create lead magnets and kind of Meteor longer form pieces of content for a couple more clients. I'm helping kind of launch a top down content, lead sales motion with partner, which there'll be more to come about that in the weeks to come. But that's going to be more of a larger initiative. And then, on top of all that, I was like, Sure, I'll, I'll write a book with you, Nick. Nick, Nick Bennett and I are writing a book on top of all of that, and yeah, my word debt is is high these these days, I, I might get downgraded in the same way that United States did.

Kerry Guard: It's not true, I do have a question for you about writing, it sort of dawned on me today. And as I'm sitting here with you, I was like, Oh, I have like the perfect person to answer this question for me. So I have found it curious that in our life of growing up through middle school, high school, and even into university or college, depending where you are in the world, how you say that thing, we are taught to have a wide vocabulary, and to come up with different words for different things. And well, I find that helpful. In my general writing, when I'm trying to write deep and extensive, which is unusual, I don't do that as much as often as I'd like to. But I have found it to from a marketing standpoint to sort of bite me in the butt lately in my, in my inability to be consistent in my language. So as as a marketer, and a writer who's lived multiple lives through all these things, who's also does in depth versus the lead magnets. Thank you, Trevor. Yes to those. Can you help me, Brian? Like, is there a balance between when to be consistent with our words, and when we can get creative?

Bryan Grover: I think kind of what you're asking here, Carrie is about jargon, and stuff like that. And like where that conversation that that conversation is very tough, it's being consistent with labeling things, and using language isn't really our choice as writers. It's what our audience is expecting to see. So I'm trying to think of an example. I think the Oh, weird words are the best thing to do. My favorite one to drop is solid CISM. And I'll define that later. So with jargon, and like trying to use the right words, consistently, language is always evolving. We've seen that happen, live with the way that zoom and slack became a verb, like, you know, in marketing communities, you can drop those terms and everybody knows what you mean. So it's, it's hard to know what is the right word to use. But the correct word to use is the one that will resonate with your audience is my kind of roundabout answer for that. So sometimes it's not the word we want to use to give a to give an allegory or not an allegory a kind of a reference point for that, like, I'm a reader, obviously, that's how I consume content. But a lot of the people that I'm looking to reach the marketing leaders, the content marketing managers that I'm looking to reach and help with their content strategy, they prefer video or Audio. So I had to, I mean, this has already been so enjoyable. So I realized the hole that I've dug for myself here, but I had to, you know, come outside of my comfort zone and talk with people in a different way than I'm used to communicating because I'm far more concise and writing than I am in talking. So, I think I think that answers your question.

Kerry Guard: Yeah. Yeah, no, it's, it's interesting, because you don't want to use jargon. But you want to, like the industry sort of divide to has defined a certain vocabulary, depending on which industry you're looking at. There is a vocabulary that you need to use, and you need to be consistent about what that vocabulary is not necessarily another. There is there is always jargon and use is a balancing act, for sure. But I find I keep confusing people because I use certain things interchangeably. And there are certain times where I need to really like pick the word and stick and stick to it. And it's coming from the world of what are your wide vocabulary is tricky. So I appreciate you reminding us to come back to our audience and who we're speaking to and making that matter. Trevor has had to go whale of a time over here with his vocabulary, and I'm here for it. So thank you, Trevor.

Bryan Grover: Shoe is a really fun one to say actually, my favorite word to say is smock. Smock is it's just a fun word to say. It just has like to it.

Kerry Guard: Oh my gosh, we'll just have to come up with their own list of fun words. It is different. I love what you're saying too, is it? Not only does it matter, and this is gonna lend nicely to our conversation. Not only does it matter in terms of how you write it, but also when you say like fillies and much more funny. Those are super fun word to say but not necessary, something that would work in in a sentence of writing it. So yes, yes to the medium, as well. And I love that. Yes, Trevor, these people should be joining us, Mike Phelps. Get over here. Peter Wheeler, come on, man. What a great conversation we're about to have. And these folks can definitely lend their expertise to it. So I'm here. I'm here for those those comments of what they're gonna drop to us for questions or not to answer. It's gonna be great. It's gonna be great. Bryan, speaking of our conversation, this is a really important one that I think needs to happen right now because people are trying to figure out I just had a wonderful conversation with Freda. On she asked a really important question around what can we do right now in a really tricky world that we live in, in regards to marketing budgets being cut, but then expecting us to, like grow our businesses. And I feel like this is an amazing channel that's been underrated for a long time, because it's kind of gotten like the consumer rap, or the really big name rap, but you're not spreading the table. It's not to have that wide open. So in terms of what influencer marketing means to you and your experience, define that for us.

Bryan Grover: To me, influencer marketing is partnering with someone that has an established brand and audience. And this gets back to our precision of language thing, borrowing that trust and authority by aligning with them. And I use the word aligning, and I use the word borrowing, because it's obviously not something that they can give and aligning. It is a collaboration. And that's kind of what sets influencer marketing today. Out from what it used to be in b2b. And where b2c is still playing around in that area. It's, it's, it's definitely still a growing field, which is why it's been so exciting working on this book with Nick. And talking about talking with people on both sides of the equation, people that are building these sorts of programs, while also talking with creators that are like this is what I'm looking for, for brands to do in order for me to work better with them. 

Kerry Guard: When I think of influencers may date me a little bit or maybe I've been watching way too much Emily and Paris. But when I think of influencers, I think of Instagramers and YouTubers who have product placement, sort of built into their everyday that they sort of like look at this beautiful makeup I'm wearing or this person carrying or like, you know, so they sort of build it into their persona as they show up in the world on these channels. But that doesn't translate to b2b in the same way. So from a b2b perspective, like how do these influencers show up when It comes to partnering with a brand.

Bryan Grover: So one of my favorite headings, this is a weird sentence, but one of my favorite headings in the book so far is content is still king. It's just a different kind of content. And that's kind of what it comes down to is finding influencers that align with your brand's like truly aligned with your brand's values like they are like in my let's use me as an example. Like my whole shtick around content marketing is making it more human. If you are an established enterprise that is going to play it safe, that is never going to kind of take a side on anything that's going to try to talk to everyone, which there's nothing wrong with that, when you have the budget to back that up that you can just blast everybody. Right? But I'm not, I wouldn't be the best content creator for that. Because a reverence is kind of my, my whole deal. And I would make certain, you know, Microsoft executives just, they would be just like, Why? Why did you have to bring up the movie Jaws? When we were talking about? We were talking about laptops, and you brought up the movie Jaws? So that that's an example of bad alignment. But I think I think that's kind of where I lost my train of thought.

Kerry Guard: There. No, I think that's a good example of what not to do when finding an influencer and what the point you're trying to make is when you're finding an influencer, you want to partner with somebody or Yeah, certainly a person, correct somebody with some sort of community, you're gonna partner with somebody who aligns to your brand and is going to help you further that into into their own community. And the Microsoft by example is what not to do.

Bryan Grover: Yes, now that I've gotten the train back on track, thank you, Kerry. I gotcha. Great hosting. So yeah, it's what where b2c is right now. It's to use that whole Forrester Gartner maturity curve thing. It's very mature and b2c You can go to, if you're a b2c brand, you can go to a marketplace and literally be like, Oh, this person's audience looks like this. And they do this kind of content. That's who I want to work with. Right now, a lot of the creators that I've talked to in the b2b space, they're like, it's kind of touch and go, it's a little bit different. And so what we're hoping this book will start the conversation around is providing a bit more of a framework and kind of stripping away the negative connotation of like, influencer marketing equals Chuck Norris using the Total Gym at 3am. That's what I think of is Chuck Norris.

Kerry Guard: Chuck Norris, I believe Paris. That's like the best dichotomy ever. So thanks for that. Can you give us a few examples? I have a few if you need a kickstart, but like a few examples of some b2b influencers that are sort of not necessarily who we're talking about for this conversation, but to give our audience a baseline of some really great influencers out there in the space in the b2b market that set this.

Bryan Grover: Oh, absolutely. And it's, it's all the people that I've been talking to, I mean, obviously, he he's gonna see me next week at a conference. So if I don't say Nick up top, Hi, Nick, if you're in the in the audience here, but Nix, Nix whole deal and why we really hit it off as his authenticity that he brings to. He brings to every company that he's worked with as an evangelist, and that's kind of the reason why they brought him in. Yes, it was his expertise in Field Marketing and then eventually his expertise in influencer marketing and the like, from, you know, Allison eremita and the like. Karina Owens was another like exceptional conversation that I had 10 David's and the list goes on will akin over at lavender. Just I think that I think that what all of these people have in common is pretty simple. They have a viewpoint. And it's not to say that they refuse to change their minds or anything like that. But when you go, and you follow any of these influencer influencers I mentioned and we've talked to 20 ish so far, not counting the ones that we've gotten text answers from. The thing that ties them all together is they believe in what they're saying on a particular topic. Oh, there you are, Nick. So they believe what they're saying on a particular topic, and they stand by it. And that's why that's why they're trustworthy is because, you know, in politics, think of the politician that's called the flip flopper, it's, it's a negative thing, because it's not that they changed their mind on a topic. It's just that they are aligned with whichever way the wind blows. And that's where a lot of people see brands, sometimes, especially these big, faceless enterprises, where it's like, oh, June 1, it's  LGBTQIA. Right rainbows everywhere, and it's like, a didn't you donate to nevermind. But it's, it's it's a lack of authenticity, and we can see right through it, but with a talented influencer, whether b2b or b2c, it's that authenticity and showing up as themselves and having a viewpoint.

Kerry Guard: I love that. There's the big names, too. There's the Gary V's of the world, there's the exit five, David Earhart. There's definitely the big news. But I love how you're calling attention to the folks who've cultivated the intentional audiences, not the masses, and I and that leads perfectly into where we're going to set today. Out of curiosity, you call it Nick Bennett, an influencer? Do you consider yourself an influencer?

Bryan Grover: Um, I'm an influencer only for what people are reading from what I've been told. I, I aspire to helping people see, like, what I'm working on, and how that's affected me. But there's, well, there's this book that I read. It's one of my favorites. It's called if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. Bit of a violent title. But I promise it's not content wise. But the the core thesis of that book is that there's no person that can tell you, this is exactly how you should do anything. And if anyone says to you, oh, I know exactly what you need to do. This is what you need to do. Their, they can only tell you what they have done and what has worked for them. So in a way, anybody who is speaking, their viewpoint on LinkedIn, or any social media network and giving their view on any subject is, is doing just that and influencing and what it all comes back to is trust. And, you know, the trust that you've built up with that audience, whether you have 1000 followers or a million, there's a degree of trust that's being lent from your audience that if they say, like, yeah, adoption framework for LinkedIn riches. Yeah, that's, that's, that's usually the quickest way to burn trust and other not to do that, or come up with an AI course. Wow, that's a big Yeah. When generative AI is, you know, if we consider November of last year to be the like, epoch of when it really exploded. I mean, there's been brands around doing that stuff for years. But I digress.

Kerry Guard: Oh, it's a good point, though. Because it takes if it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert, in anything AI included, and it's only been out for the last six months. Can you really be an expert at it just yet?

Bryan Grover: Yeah, yeah, it's really that. I think that comes back to the authenticity thing where, you know, my stance on AI and how I've talked about it has either been making fun of it, because that's just what I do. I've made so many 2001 A Space Odyssey references that I don't know what to do with a Terminator, etc. Like every AI movie I can think of I've made that joke. But the other thing is, hey, this is what's worked for me and like, you know, One of the things I'm a content writer, but yes, I'm, I'm using AI for making up for one of my shortcomings and that's editing. Because of working with so many different brands, at the same time and often on quick turnarounds and stuff. Sometimes I will rewrite a sentence so many times, and in my brain, it reads perfect. Yeah. But that's usually going to be the Google doc comment that I get at, you know, 10pm when this poor overworked marketing manager finally has time to read the draft? Oh, no. Yeah. So I will often feed portions of a blog post and and just be like, hey, check for these things. And that has helped me and I've been sharing that with people but saying, I can help you make $100,000 is just people are more skeptical than ever. And trust is so easily lost.

Kerry Guard: I could talk about AI and machine learning because I also carry it like I just, I just adopted grammerly For the first time ever in the history of my life, considering I am the worst. Like the my teachers always told me how much they love working with me. But the one feedback they all gave me through my entire since I couldn't start writing was but your grammar and spelling need work. Like even in even in one of my jobs right before I started mkg was that my boss, one of the feedback he gave me was spelling and grammar. So to this day, the struggle is real. And so I adopted Grammarly, which is probably I would say more machine learning and AI. So I find it interesting that you're feeding it into an AI to get feedback on that. I also love I just want to call her out because I absolutely love her posts. Melissa moody is on this mid journey journey. And she's sharing her. She's sharing it in a really lovely, authentic way. And when you're talking about it, Brian, of like, here's what's working for me. And it's third gorgeous, like, it's so inspiring, and it makes me want to go figure it out, but also have a how to time but like you go, Melissa, yes. I think that's also a really great way to show to show up in the world to your to your community and say, here's what I got going on. And here's what I'm trying to figure out. And I'm not an expert in this and that's okay. Yeah, man, she looks like it. She's like, back in the system over there.

Bryan Grover: If there's one thing AI is really good at it's making us look better. So like, I feel like we're only like 20 years removed from, you know, someone at the Academy Awards being like, I'd like to think chat GPT your your tips were invaluable from this Best Supporting Actor. Someday, someday we'll see something.

Kerry Guard: Some day. It's kind of I mean, I think it's gonna be here faster than we can imagine. So just buckle up yeah. Um, in terms of activating an influencer community, so getting getting a bit more into the tactics here because I think we've defined influencer to the nth degree and I was like, Okay, I got it. Like I hear you all, I'm abiding. I think when it comes to there's two ways to go about this. Either you can become an influencer. Or you can activate an influencer community. And what we're talking about is finding those influencers to partner with. And I love one of Trevor's questions. Trevor, I see you I'm coming back to you about holding them accountable, we'll get there. But in terms of creating an influencer marketing program as a channel, like I said, I think people need this right now because budgets are being cut and being held back and we still have to grow and b2b has become owe people to people in terms of how they buy it is so word of mouth. It is so trust base, as you mentioned, and influencers a really great way to activate that authentically. I'm sure there's some boundaries we need to balance here as we get into the conversation. But let's just like kick this off in terms of your approach to building influencer marketing as its own channel. Where do you start?

Bryan Grover: So and I just want to preface this with a disclaimer that I have done all of the things in marketing and worked alongside influencer marketing programs even though we've never we didn't call them that because it it just, it was even more in its infancy four years ago. But these have been insights gleaned from all of the people that have led to us being able to write a book in the first place. So you know, I will cite their names as appropriate once the book comes out. But I just want to say that up top this is not my this is not my original thinking. This is kind of distilling what I've heard down into into kind of a short conversation. So I would say the most important thing, and this goes for literally any campaign that you're looking to launch, you need to understand what your business objective is like, what are you trying to do? Because that's going to determine everything else that's going on. Like, if your goal is qualified pipeline. And you're going to work with an influencer for three months, but your buying cycle is 18 months, you're going to have a bad time. If you want brand awareness, and you are going to work with five influencers who have 11 followers a piece, you're going to have a bad time. So starting out with a really clear understanding of what the business objective is, what does this look like, ideally, what is our audience looking for, really, you know, circling the wagons for everybody that's going to be involved. And making this cross functional, is really important. Because, again, this is kind of general marketing campaign stuff. But these things can get really complicated really fast. So having the right people involved at the beginning, is vital.

Kerry Guard: What they're gonna hook on that you said, Brian, that I think is really important to all campaign marketing efforts right now. And I speak from a right now for standpoint, because it's just such an interesting time that we're in that while we're recommending influencer marketing, it is not the end OMB on the only thing you should be doing. There needs to be a holistic approach to how you support the program in other ways outside of the one thing.

Bryan Grover: Absolutely, it's it's influencer, marketing is an amplification effort. If your fundamentals are askew, if you don't have problem, product, fit, product market fit any of the fits. It's not going to work if if you're trying to get involved with influencers, but at the same time, you're trying to like, like spin up a plg motion, again, and it's one of my favorite episodes of South Park, you're gonna have a bad time. So don't pizza when you're supposed to french fry. Anyway, so once you have your business objective figured out, then comes the question of like, what's your budget look like? And your budget is going to inform a couple of things, whether it's going to be kind of a grassroots type of program, whether it's going to be like you literally reaching out to people that you know, are influencers within the community. And just, it might just be like, Hey, would love for you to check this out. And we I haven't done a good job with the compliance stuff. Sorry, Nick. So I don't have the NDA. But there's a certain baked goods company that we spoke to growth cookie company, they were like there, Grayson was gracious enough to give us his time and expertise on how he had started it. And it was it was very genuine and very one to one outreach, and starting from a place of giving. So that's the low budget scrappy way to do this. If you have some dollars to put behind it. What I heard time and again, was to kind of collaborate with a small pool, starting as small as possible, a small pool pool of people that had anywhere from 1 to 5000 followers. It doesn't need to be the Gary V's. It doesn't need to be the Kim Kardashians or you don't need Taylor Swift to like, you know, hold up. Laptop dream. Yeah, right. I mean, at this point, being a truck driver for Taylor Swift.

Bryan Grover: Yeah, it's a way to make a living. I mean, you do have to be away from your family for 24 weeks. There's that.

Kerry Guard: I'm sorry. Oh, my gosh. Anyway, let's talk about Taylor all day in the video. What? Yeah, how she's built community. 

Bryan Grover: Oh, yeah. So you know, you, if you've got a little budget to put behind it. What you're going to want to do is identify key people that have the following. And this is probably going to take the most research to really dig into those slack communities, dig into those forums that they still exist to dig into those. Like, dig into those places on LinkedIn. Those groups, Facebook groups, whatever, and finding those people that are leading the conversation and reaching out to them and starting a conversation, as you move up in the number of followers, the maturity level of the person that you're going to be working with is going to be a bit different, they're going to be understanding their value a little bit more, they're going to know what they're doing, and they probably will lead you a little bit more. But if we're talking limited budgets, you might be working with people that have never been approached for a brand deal before. 

Kerry Guard: So I gotta say, I find those folks, Peter Wheeler calls them referral friends, and they truly are like, the best friends around. If you can find those folks who are more kicking off in their influencer career, like, man, friends for life right there in terms of, because I don't, you know, you don't really know how big your audience really is, unless you're Gary Vee. And so, you know, it's almost more intentional, right? If you're talking to, if you have one person you're talking to who has a few friends who fit, like what you're trying to do. And if there's a good fit there, like that goes way further, I find in terms of trust and relationship building, then trying to get the big guns out.

Bryan Grover: Absolutely in this in, I would take the, you know, 15 to 20, micro or nano influencers over the mega influencers any day. And that's because there's going to be so much focus on what they're, what value they're providing, they've hit their stride, they've got their content down, and they really understand what's going on. But at the same time, like, hate to quantify people like this, but at the same time, they're earlier on in their influencer career and you can make things work that it's beneficial to both parties. Yes. Working on a budget. You know, like I every single influencer that I talked to remembers their first deal. And they underpriced themselves and like, all of that, but like, it was the ones that went well, where the brand was really picked, like the brand and the marketing team behind the brand, really paid attention to like, wanting to make it a collaborative experience. They remember that fondly. And like, at the end of the day, it's, it's, it's almost like the customer experience, sort of thing that's like if you if you give a good experience, people will, like I believe it's Maya Angelou that, like people may not remember what you say or what you do, but they'll always remember how you made them feel. And that's, that's another thing to keep in mind as you're kind of thinking about building an influencer marketing program. But we've talked a lot about the partnering aspect of it. We've also seen lavenders are really, really clear example of this, where they brought, they brought a stable of really, really strong creators that aligned with their brand in house as employees and kind of just kind of last of them and gone along for the ride. And they they have a mutual trust for some of the antics that these extremely, extremely talented creators get up to, but they knew what they signed up for. And they knew that that was the vibe that they wanted their brand to give off. And it's it's important to remember that like at the end of the day, like as you're looking to set up an influencer marketing program you should be working with people that you would hire and you would let go to a trade show and walk around with their like your name on their badge and represent you if you can't imagine yourself doing that and you just want to align with someone with a huge following you're you're gonna have a bad time.

Kerry Guard: I love that such a great point Chris Cochran is doing this with Huntress and I just I just love watching him walk around and be on screen with like Hunter skier on like Yes Go Chris go and hunters is a great brand like what an amazing alignment I bring that up a lot I'm sorry folks, but like I can't get over how perfect of marriage that is. So that's another great example of when to bring an influencer and I love that lavender. I didn't know that lavender did that. And like that's a that means. I imagine there was pretty good like There was good intention behind that there was also pretty good money behind that, right? If you're gonna hire a few influencers, you're gonna have a strong budget. And what other sort of programs have you seen in terms of like I would say, we've talked a lot about the smaller budgets in terms of grassroots in partnership. Lavender is a good example, if you've got a good budget, what about the more in between where have you seen some good examples of like activating influencers when you have like a little bit, but you don't have like the whole kit caboodle.

Bryan Grover: So this is, there's one, there's one method that I've seen pop up a couple of times. And that's just been through empowering. If you've got employees already working for your organization, and organically talking about the things that they're doing at work, and championing your brand, because they're excited to work for your company. Give those people give those people the right platform, the right support. You like the network effect is real if you can get a whole bunch of people within your organization to be talking about that with their network. And, you know, if there, let's use one of my other past lives in marketing operations, as an example, if I'm a marketing operations professional working for, you know, insert brand here, I'm going to be connected with other marketing ops professionals and be talking about talking about the same things, and let's say, you know, this marketing ops professionals at a Mar tech platform, they're connected with your ideal audience. And if they have a flair for, you know, it's not a flair for controversy, but like we said, of taking a position on something, and being like, you know, what, the Godfather Part three is not that bad of a movie, it's just not as good as the first two. And, you know, like, just giving, just giving people the leeway to do that.

Kerry Guard: It kind of needs to be a whole, a no holds bar, like if you're going to bring people in to be an A advocate for your brand. And they're going to bring their whole selves to the occasion. There's no you can't filter that you lose the authenticity of that.

Bryan Grover: Exactly. And it comes there's two words that have come up time and time and time and time again, and that's trust an audience, understanding what your audience is looking for. And then understanding that trust exists at all of the levels. There's the trust that you might be borrowing from the influencer. But there's also the trust that the brand and the influencer have between them of like, we're, we're going to give you an idea of a type of content series that we'd like to tackle. How would you go about that, as opposed to just considering them an order taker and being like, hey, we want you to post this sponsored post, here's the copy. But anyone that's been creating, like, just taking from a text perspective, anyone that's creating written content, they have a unique style. You know, I, my copywriting, my copywriting career was informed by direct response, which is much more kind of, okay, it can, it can be categorized as bro a tree because of the line breaks, but it makes it easier to read. And it's not big paragraph, but I'll throw myself under the bus there. But, but, but like, my style is informed by that. But before my style was informed by academia, I was an English major, like, I wrote really long, complex sentences that just went on for ever. And like, that was my voice at the time. And if someone handed me like, if someone handed the academic version of me, the modern way that I write, I would have said, That's not me and vice versa. I've I've struggled with that with clients from time to time when I've gotten like drafts of stuff and I've completely reworked it to my voice and I didn't do that since it's sensitive to the fact that it was their voice. And that was a really fun learning opportunity.

Kerry Guard: Well, I mean, that's a whole different topic. So you just have to come back on Brian, it's gonna be great. But I do think that you know, influencer and content writers go hand in hand, right? Like you have to find out writer, if you're going to outsource your writing, then you have to find writers who fit your tone already. Because trying to ask writers to magically work in the way that you do. It goes against pretty much every bone in your body.

Bryan Grover: Yeah, and boy's voice is adaptable, but at the same time, like, if, if the influencers voice changes, it immediately sends up a, you know, it puts our like our hackles are raised that this is not authentic content. But yeah, I would say, I would say that's like the last kind of in between, which is kind of identifying if there's someone in house that you can elevate.

Kerry Guard: Yes. I love I'm all about elevating from within. I think that's magical. So what I've heard you say is, first you gotta divine define your business objectives, make sure that this is going to work for what you're trying to accomplish. And make sure it's the right budget to back it up, depending on how you know, do you have long term or short term goals, if you have short term goals, you probably want to put a little behind it. If you have long term goals, man go grassroots and build a unique audience with the right you know, style. And the right folks that you want to get involved. In terms of the types of programs, things that you mentioned, was anywhere from hiring internally, like lavender, to going out in partnering with audiences that are kind of small and getting, you know, getting their feet under them, how know how to support them, and find like a two way street sort of mentality to, you know, bring in evangelists to really go out there and speak about your brand and dazzle them and all of the swag and all the land. You've mentioned how to find the influencers, from going out on LinkedIn to scouring the Slack channels of the world and the groups and finding the biggest voices in those in those networks and in small communities may have to make itself in the ones that two things we didn't touch on that I think is really important. And something that marketers are really struggling with today is how to know what's working. Like influencer to me means brand building and not necessarily that see it like click it mentality. So in your experience or from the conversations you've been having, as you write this book, what does measurement look like in the world of building an influencer program?

Bryan Grover: So there's kind of two buckets, there's using numbers to quantify fit for an influencer. With regardless of the type of program you're looking to build, and that might be those things like reach impression engagements, DMS, from, you know, a direct call to action. Those are the quantifiable things but this is this is why the direct port from b2c to b2b is a bit of a struggle because the b2b world for the last, I want to say 15 plus years has been so hyper focused on measurement in a clinical, like, just quantifiable way. And I think that that's going to be the biggest growing pain because I think there's going to be indicators that you can leverage, as your influencer program is underway. Like let's, let's say, you partner with a smaller podcast and you sponsor that podcast and you've got to mid roll, whatever. If you start to see traffic, building up over time, as the listenership of that podcast increases, I think that you can make clear you can make a clear line to you might not be able to calculate 4.7% ROI you know, 4.7x ROI, but you can say, hey, board, this is working, and we'd like to add more oomph behind this because look, yeah, it's it's just looking at that brand sentiment is another thing. There's plenty of tools in social media that you can use to monitor how people are talking about your brand. Dark Social.

Kerry Guard: I haven't heard that. Sorry, I kind of sit there for a sec because I haven't heard that word sentiment and tools around measuring sentiment in so long. I don't know if it's because I'm like out. I'm outside of like the social media organic world. I know that it's very prevalent there. But like, wow, did that bring me back? And I think that's such I think we're gonna see a shift towards brand in general. Yeah, and big thanks to AI and way Google's going and some other things. So, I think yeah, like measuring sentiment should be something we look at again.

Bryan Grover: Absolutely, yeah. Especially keeping in mind that, like, dark social is only dark if you don't light up the corners that you know your audience is spending time in. If you aren't sure, like, if everything's falling under direct, which is everybody, every marketers favorite bucket of traffic. It's not that those people just spontaneous like, it's not like these buyers are grown in a, you know, locker room floor somewhere like and they're just like, I need software. They, it's just that you're, you're filling in pieces of the puzzle, and you will never have the whole puzzle completed. But you can't have enough of the puzzle completed to make things repeatable and scalable. And that's where I think brand sentiment comes in is that once you start to get this program up and running, and you're using, you know, self reported attribution on form fills, or, you know, one of the tools we just mentioned, or training your STR, BDR or sales reps to just straight up, ask, hey, did you hear about us and stuff like that? That's where you can then iterate and show value, even if it's not in the same traditional way. And it's just sort of like how we talked at the beginning about how everything with language is always shifting with marketing. It shifts even quicker. I mean, threads has lost 70% of its active daily users. Yeah,

Kerry Guard: I didn't know it was that much, that big wow 70%.

Bryan Grover: Right. But that that doesn't like, over time, that's just going to be an outlier. And they will be able to measure that more effectively over time. And I think that that's, that's where the influencer marketing measurement comes in is that it's going to be no matter whether you're just going to go with a Gary Vee versus a, me, for instance, you're going to need to give both of those things some time. And the best influencer marketing relationships you're going to have are going to be long term relationships, they're not going to be transactional, they're not going to be, hey, send this post out for me.

Kerry Guard: Last question, because Trevor asked early on, and I think this lends itself to closing us out here. He asked about countability in terms of how you hold the trouble with b2b influencer marketing is counting on them to do a good job continuously attracting that audience, once the affiliate with your brand. So to your point that you just made Brian is is it really come back to relationship building that naturally holds them accountable? Or is there something bigger that needs to be done?

Bryan Grover: I relation, my business as it exists today, you know, I'm a solo marketing content writer, dude. It wouldn't exist without relationships. And Case in point, I thought I bought a new book, believe it or not. And I thought of a client that I had last year. And I sent that book to her and I was just like, hey, hope you're well was thinking of you sent it apropos of nothing. And she was like, Oh, this is so sweet of you. Thank you also, we might have some projects coming up. So it's, it's a lot of giving, without the expectation of getting anything in return. And it's just like any, it's the more transactional, you make the relationship between you and the influencer, the less accountable, they're going to feel because it's just going to come down to that paycheck, which is lovely. But extrinsic motivation hits its limit at a certain point. And so I think if you build a genuine connection with the influencer influencers you're collaborating with, and they're doing something that's exciting while also building their own brand in alignment with yours and you're getting qualified pipeline, because you're reaching the audience that you're looking to, like, you're allowed to reach everybody wins. And that's how everyone wants to just keep going.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, the last thing I'll say on this and then I know we got to wrap up man, can I talk to you for ever? Like the last time because I know my clients are running into this a whole lot is this feels like a real true genuine program. People could stand up to get boots on the ground, as a people to people sales. motion that really needs to be taken into account these days. I feel like everybody needs to be doing some level of influence or whether you're becoming the influencer and going out and creating relationships one to one, or whether you're activating guests to ever do what moves you or whether you're activating multiple influencers around a common cause. Having a People to People movement is really what's going to build your brand in the long run. And community lead growth let's go to lead growth I'm here for it. Yes, Chava are all the things all the acronyms all all day long? I'm still I'm still waiting on growth led growth grow Yeah, a new category. There it is there. Oh, my gosh. Category pirates. Let's go. Um, I gotta wrap up your run through really all day. I could just hang out with you all day. This is amazing. I gotta wrap this up. And I the way I love to wrap this up is with my people. First question, because you're more than the content writer and the market are that you are clearly from everything you've already shared with us and how open you've been. But I have to know. Given boats are clearly a theme for you right now you got your with your LinkedIn posts, from Broadway shows about jaws to riding on the beach and setting sail on a regular basis is pictures with you and Nick on the water. I have to know if you didn't have to go by boat that would take an eternity. I love boating. But it's slow. I know from experience if you go anywhere in the world, without any challenges in your way. Where would you go? And why? What's on your bucket list? Where do you want to go?

Bryan Grover: Oh, that's easy. Paris, the West Bank. I mean, I ended up getting sucked into different like different epics of epochs of time. And the 1920s in Paris is one of them. The Italian Renaissance and Florence is another the American Revolution in Boston because Boston, of course, but the 1920s it's just this this perfect storm of romanticism, creativity and just feeling lost. while also trying to create something new with Hemingway Stein Fitzgerald, that whole crew. It's something that I related to as a millennial entering the workforce during the Great Recession, and it's just like, what, I feel completely entirely lost. So that's, that's on a very short list to head to in the next couple of years. And I'll be I'll be sipping apricot brandy in the cafe florae. Someday, soon.

Kerry Guard: You're practicing I like it. I like it. Until Duolingo in our spare time. Oh my gosh, Bryan, if you need more Bryan Grover and your life like I do, you can find him on LinkedIn under a stack of books, quite literally, picture a stack of books and pictures. So if you need book recommendations, if you need more to learn more about influencer if you need content, right, if you need a content writer with Bryan's very unique, lovely voice reach out to him on LinkedIn, for sure. What a joy Bryan, I'm so grateful.

Bryan Grover: Thank you so much for having me Kerry. It was a pleasure.

Kerry Guard: And thank you to our listeners. Trevor, I see you Steve Schmidt. Thank you Nick Bennett. thanks for popping on our listeners going live. This is what it's all about. If you are listening after the fact please be sure to like subscribe and share so you don't miss the next one. This episode is brought to you by MKG marketing agency that feels the mission of complex b2b Tech brands ready to scale up via digital marketing strategy SEO and digital ads. It says by me Kerry guard CEO and co founder MKG marketing and if you'd like to be guest, DM me, let's chat. Let's hang out. I'm here for it. I look forward to meeting you all. Bryan, thank you again.

Bryan Grover: Of course. Thanks, everyone. Take care.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

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