Western & English Today

FALL 2015

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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34 Western & English Today FALL 2015 I f "she" or "he" is wearing it—and influential—then I'd bet- ter be wearing it. (Note to self: If I want to be on trend.) Our perennial fascination with best- and worst-dressed lists never stops. It culminates in a fevered pitch around red carpet looks that communicate designer brands to millions of fans and followers who just can't get enough. After the last Academy Awards telecast, the New York Times reported that Google searches yielded more than 34 million results. A recent CIO.com story determined that "savvy fashion mar- keters use 'Internet influencers' and 'affiliate networks' to pitch their products in less invasive…ways." It's a subtle and strategic tactic, according to CIO. "Unlike traditional ads, commercials or aggressive product pitches, partnerships with influencers can convince consumers that they are getting honest product recommendations from people they trust." Influencing the influencers isn't confined to the red carpet. The same lessons can be learned and applied to the business of Western and English apparel. According to design4equine, a British marketing firm, "Today, the world is a tough place to do business — the amount of competition out there in the equestrian sector is great, so it is of significant importance that you find and test new marketing channels to gain advantage over your compe- tition and also concentrate your energy and resources on the channels which can deliver good returns on investment." And why do influencers matter? It's because they can prompt other people to take action, change their behavior or their opinion—about your products. Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that marketing-inspired word-of-mouth can trump paid advertising by more than double and do it with a 37 percent higher retention rate. The company also says word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. In 2015, "word-of-mouth" also means "word f social media." It's here and you can't tame it, that omnipresent social media animal. The Pew Research Center found that only 15 percent of Americans don't use the Internet, and that as of January 2014, nearly three-quarters of all adults use social media networking sites. Statista reported that in 2016, there may well be approximately 2.13 billion social network users around the globe, up from 1.4 billion in 2012. INFLUENCERS AND ADVOCATES As the digital marketing firm Salesforce Marketing Cloud of San Francisco advises in an e-book, be sure to distinguish between your influencers vs. advocates. Pay special attention to people who endorse your brand. Remember that influenc- ers can have significant social capital, which is why big brands clamor for them as spokespeople. "An advocate is different," Salesforce writes. "They may not have a lot of followers. They may not blog. The value lies in INFLUENCING THE Influencers When you recruit the leaders your customers follow, they just might start following you, too by Stephanie Stephens

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