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Contrary to popular opinion, an “influencer” is not just someone who is very popular. While an influencer can be popular, the more appropriate definition of an influencer is someone who has an effective reach and can affect the buying behavior of a certain demographic. This can be millions of people or just a few hundred, but if that person can influence people to behave in a certain way, they are an influencer.

It is imperative that business owners connect with influencers in order to grow their business. They’ve already been doing so for decades by using influencers as an endorser of their products, using them in commercials and print advertisements. The best way to utilize an influencer, however, is not by including them in the business’ campaigns, but by putting the product in the hands of the influencer to speak to their audience directly.

How does a business do this? The simplest way is to simply pay them. Businesses can pay influencers thousands – or in some cases, millions – to talk about their product with the influencer’s audience. While those figures may seem astounding, if the influencer is able to drive a positive ROI from their actions, it may be worth it to the company.

Endorsement deals and one-time product placement fees can get expensive, but the ultimate disadvantage to such a relationship is that they can seem impersonal. In today’s world, most people don’t want a company that simply sells them things; they want a business they can believe in and support for the long haul. If an influencer believes in a company, there’s a good chance their audience will too.

Ideally, what a business wants to form with an influencer is a mutually-beneficial relationship, where the influencer gets up-to-date market info that is relevant and they can share with their audience and the company gets advertising and honest support from a very public figure. There may or may not be money involved in this type of deal, but if a company can turn an influencer into an advocate for their product, it has the potential to be a long and fruitful relationship.

To get one of these relationships started, it’s best to reach out to an influencer directly and try to strike up a conversation before discussing financial matters. It will certainly take time to build this type of relationship, but once it’s in place, it will pay for itself many times over.