Home News Bring It to Market: Lessons from MarTech Founder Kurt Uhlir

Bring It to Market: Lessons from MarTech Founder Kurt Uhlir

by Muriel Vega

Bring It to Market is a bi-weekly series at Hype, where we share marketing advice from top Chief Marketing Officers.

Kurt Uhlir is best known as the co-founder of Sideqik. Following a 3-year stint as CEO at the marketing influencer platform, Uhlir took a well-earned sabbatical and became an advisor for companies and programs including Yaystack, Zenergyst RE, and Georgia Tech’s Flashpoint. Uhlir is also known for leading and building other companies across six continents that have generated almost $10 billion in value for investors and clients, most notably Vitrue and HERE (formerly NAVTEQ).

At the core of these companies is the power of influencer marketing, a buzzword in the marketing world right now. But what really is it and how can you put it into play at your startup? Uhlir shares the following CMO Insights.

What is Influencer Marketing?

“Influencer marketing is that type of marketing where you’re the individuals and sometimes groups or other types of marketing partners and using them to drive your brand’s message out to your target market.”

Find Your “Tail Influencer”

“There’s three types of ambassadors or influencers that every brand should have. Celebrities is often where people will try to get started. We’d all love to have that big celebrity talking about us and there’s even directories that you can go to that you can pay people to talk about it. But that’s not really influencer marketing, that’s more display ads to me. For me it really starts much more with the longer “tail influencer”.

The rest of marketing started there as well. How do you find the thousands or tens of thousands of people that are highly passionate about your brand? And if one or two of those happen to be celebrities, all the better.”

The secret to influencer marketing: a self-forming community

“We do see brands across the consumer spectrum doing some level of influencer marketing. I mean Forbes has said more than two-thirds of brands currently have an influencer budget right now. Which is great, but for me the real benefit comes from those that have a product or a service in an area where people are highly passionate about it. They’re self-forming communities.

You think about runners around the country. It’s like whether or not the brand is there, they’re getting to know each other and they’re talking. The same thing about new parents as well. If that industry kind of matches with what your brand is, that’s where the biggest bang comes to get started.”

Think about the strategy, not just the campaign

“I mentioned that there are three types of influencers. For me, the highest growth brands, they always start to segment their strategies based on that. And the next kind of main one is they think about their influence marketing as a strategy and not a campaign. It used to be five years ago you could think about “Hey, we’re going to do a campaign for a month and that’s going to be when we think about influencers. Well, that was great five years ago, but the game has changed today. So now the big brands are doing this throughout the year.

They may have these peak periods that come through, but they’re always thinking about how they can engage it. Almost splitting their marketing into: how do I talk to my own audience, how do I pay for access to somebody else’s, and how do I work with my influencers to get engagement from their audiences?”

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