Kamkash caught up with Influencer Marketing Guru Mangal Karnad to get some insight into what she does, and get some tips on how to improve on the digital marketing services we provide.
Mangal D. Karnad is the co-founder of FableSquare, an Influencer Marketing Agency based in Bangalore.
Mangal has over three decades of experience in marketing and sales, business development, public relations (PR) and coaching. She is a veteran in Influencer Marketing and Strategic PR.
Before founding FableSquare, Mangal was the Head of Marketing Communications for Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd, India’s most successful accounting software company. In this highly sensitive and important position at a corporate level, Mangal oversaw Tally’s media relations, brand building and corporate reputation management.
In recognition of her achievements and valuable contribution to the field of marketing, CMO Asia has named Mangal Karnad as the “Most Talented CMO of India” in the year 2014.
Question 1. After your immensely successful and high-profile stint at Tally, you could have chosen virtually anything to do in the field of marketing. Why Influencer Marketing?
A: During the last 15 years of my stint as a sales & marketing professional I’ve seen a couple of things working well for businesses:
- It is easy to sell to a prospect who has heard good reviews from a friend who is a customer.
- A well written article by a reputed journalist (media) gets many mentions/shares and high recall.
- When an authority figure like a professor, consultant or a CA recommends the sales cycle gets shortened.
- When an opinion leader talks about or recommends your brand on national television, you know for sure there is a reinforcement of the brand.
- An employee reference is probably the best way to get new recruits.
And when all these things work well together, it is Influencer Marketing kicking in.
Dictionary.com defines Influence as ‘the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviour, opinions, etc., of others’. Taking this concept further, we can deduce ‘influencer marketing’ to be the power of a person to influence the buying decision of others.
If you remember the early days of Uber’s entry into the Indian market, they were a well-known brand globally, but not in India. They just got the early movers to spread the word among their friends and family. I had this very excited colleague of mine who sat next to me and explained the ‘benefits’ of using Uber! Now how cool is that! That is Influencer Marketing. All Uber had to do was to make all their early mover customers ‘Uber happy’ and it created a network effect.
Question 2. On a related note, can you explain to us your definition and vision about what is influencer marketing? How does it help your clients?
A: The pre-requisite before we implement Influencer Marketing is the ability of the company to deliver on the promise made. Once that is done very consistently, the reputation of this company is bound to grow.
Now we all know that a happy customer might speak good about you and your product or service if he or she is happy and satisfied and if he is the kind who provides the so called ‘unsolicited’ advice. Sometimes, a customer might just recommend when asked specifically. Then there might be a customer who writes a blog and talks about his ‘fantastic’ experience and sends it via email to his friends. What has been the effort of the company here to have all these people talk? It is the delivery of promises made.
Now there is this Physio Therapy centre I was introduced to the good doctor by a colleague who had benefited by their treatment, and was satisfied with their treatment. I have in turn referred them to at least 8 others. All the Doctor did was to give me relief from my back pain and I was more than happy to talk to my friends who needed similar service.
Influencer marketing is a method of facilitating the rapid spread of word-of-mouth from people who have an influence on the target audience of the business.
Question 3: How do you choose the right influencers for your business, brand and products / services? What are the factors to consider, or is there some shortlisting process or system that a company can follow?
A: One of the possible mistakes that can happen while choosing an influencer is looking for the highest number of followers on the digital platforms. While reach is good to have, there are other aspects like relevance to the target audience and resonance with them.
Are your Influencers sought after speakers? Are they part of groups where your prospects look for information? Are they opinion leaders and public figures? Are they seen as authorities on the subject and are they credible and trustworthy?
In my previous role, we had this one senior IIM professor who believed in the product offering and voluntarily spoke to a gathering of 50 plus CIOs! The targeting couldn’t have been better, 26 of the CIO’s engaged with us after the meeting. In this case he matched all 3 aspects, he is a Professor at IIM (Relevance), had access to the top CIOs in the country (Reach) and most of them were convinced by his talk (Resonance).
I would not rely only on tools to identify these influencers. A deep understanding of the Target audience and who impacts them needs to be considered.
Question 4: We’re recommending that anyone who wants to do influencer marketing should take a look at FableSquare.com. But what other tools, technologies and platforms could be considered useful for influencer marketing?
A: In my opinion we cannot purely go by online tools, at least in India. You still see that there is substantial marketing spend on hoardings, newspaper advertisements, offline events, etc. Even though we are increasingly using social media platforms, offline methods still continue to meet the needs and preferences of consumers and hence are used by brands to create awareness.
A popular speaker in a huge offline event can mention a brand but it may or may not get tweeted about, but it still would have been registered with the entire audience!
A better method would be to understand the Target audience very well and understand the people or communities of people who can have an influence on them. For example the community of CAs can impact businesses and so a software company who sells to these businesses can look at CAs as influencers. Similarly, a community of interior designers and Painters can influence the choice of a Paint, and so on.
When we look at media and bloggers as influencers, the popularity of the publication and the blog can be the deciding factor. Now assume this blogger or the media person has a huge following on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, then it is a bonus!
Question 5: We understand that influencer marketing helps you target the right audience in large numbers that you couldn’t otherwise have reached. But how important or relevant is influencer marketing in terms of SEO, as a form of content creation and marketing?
A: I would say highly relevant, after carefully crafting your message and putting it up on your website, you count on your website being viewed by a specific audience to get your message across. SEO will do that for you, it also helps establish you as a subject matter expert in your domain. Your website ranking gets impacted by the quality and authority of the content, the amount of traffic, the visitor’s experience on your site, sites that link to your site and a couple of other factors. While it is not an easy thing to do, getting credible backlinks would put the brand in front of a whole lot of new people and generate more traffic too. Influencers can create sponsored content on behalf of the company and this content being posted on the influencer’s website or blog may get you to be seen and heard by standing out in the clutter.
Question 6: Anything else you want to say to companies who are considering making use of influencer marketing?
A: I would say this effort requires maturity and clarity of purpose. Influencer Marketing is about investing in your brand’s tomorrow, and the people who believe in it. The benefits linger long after the effort.
I would urge companies to invest their time and effort in identifying Influencers who have seen the value of their product or services. Also to explore power of an employee as an Influencer.
As we like to say – “A hoarding may last you a month, an influencer will last you a lifetime!”