Marketing Wizard Steve Lesnard Offers Advice On Influence Marketing

Some industry observers have called 2018 “the year of the influencers.” It speaks to the exploding marketing strategy of leveraging the media recognition and popularity of key celebrities to sell products.

But Steve Lesnard, Vice President of Global Marketing with Nike, says it’s not as easy as it looks. He said generating a celebrity influencer campaign is fraught with complexities. For one thing, gaining the endorsement of a celebrity influencer can be extremely expensive. Another factor is social media — that is, how to use it correctly and effectively.

Steve Lesnard offers two principles that will help marketers get influence marketing right.

His first principle is to establish a solid connection with influencers that is authentic. By that, Steve Lesnard means that the influencer one chooses to endorse a product must have a logical and genuine connection to that product. For example, NBA legend Michael Jordan is a natural fit for promoting athletic shoes — but Kanye West and Rihanna also proved a great match with Adidas and Puma respectively. They’re obviously not athletes but they still have the right kind of mojo to sell shoes. Sometimes defining that “mojo” is not easy.

The problem, Lesnard says, is the connection between influencer and product is not always obvious — but sellers must strive to get it right. If the connection is not immediately existent, the marketer must proactively build it, Steve Lesnard says.

His second principle is that celebrities are not the only game in town. Influencers can be a lot of other people. People tend to buy things based on the recommendation of someone they know, admire and trust. That can be anyone from a school teacher to a local citizen in your town or neighborhood whom everyone knows and respects. Influencer campaigns can be grassroots operations, Lesnard says.

Of course, mixed up in all of this is the power of social media in its many manifestations, from Twitter and Facebook, to Instagram and Snapchat. Steve Lesnard says: You must have a clear social and digital strategy that will leverage the image of your influencer correctly.