The endorsement marketing avenue other than customer endorsements is getting trusted so-called experts to endorse you. This comes in many forms:
- Journalists (traditional media)
- Like minded organizations
- Business partners
The power of having trusted 3rd parties get your message out is undeniable. Almost without question, when your target audience reads about you in the New York Times, your credibility rises and with it, your 4As.
This is why even the most meager of budgets tend to find some ability to fund some sort of media relations effort – either through means of a PR firm or dedicated staff.
It used to be that PR firms and gurus were all about media and pretty much exclusively media. CEOs would get speaking engagements at key industry events so that the analysts and pundits would be impressed and reference those companies and products to journalists who rely on their expertise on such matters. Even journalists rely on trusted stranger endorsements!
Nowadays, while media endorsements are still important, the set of trusted stranger endorsers has broadened, especially with the onslaught of blogging. Bloggers have become celebrities, and their writing can often be somewhat more promotional in nature than a professionally trained journalist (although not always the case).
For example, if Perez Hilton now says that a new actress is hot, that literally makes it so. A couple of years ago, no one would have even heard of Perez Hilton. There you have it. Same for Michael Arrington or any number of bloggers who are experts in the areas that you are passionate about.
Like-minded organizations are also powerful. If you are marketing a product aimed at busy parents, and can get an authentic mention (and tacit endorsement) about your product or service by the PTA or the local parents’ club, well, what’s better than that?
Finally, celebrities are also of interest here. But, be careful. Just because Danny DeVito makes news gets blitzed drinking Limoncello’s doesn’t mean that other people will follow. OK, so there’s a better example here, but the point is that celebrities have the ears of their fans, but not always credibility in the domain that matters to your target audience.
So, even though trusted experts matter a ton, don’t underestimate the power of the everyday recommendation. In fact, analyst Jeremiah Owyang at Forrester Research was quoted in the New York Times as saying “83 percent trust opinions of a friend or acquaintance who has used the product or services. Only 63 percent of consumers trust a review of an expert.” But, then again, he’s an expert, so only 2/3 of you will believe that stat.
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