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Influencers are all the rage in today’s hyper-digital world, where marketing and public relations tactics are increasingly conducted online. While it might seem like a new trend, when you stop to think about it, the concept of  “influencers” has been around for centuries. Some consider P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, to be the first-ever influencer. Barnum was an innovative business person who understood the power of press coverage and created sensational ideas to generate attention from influential people. In essence, he was targeting influencers to disseminate information to the rest of a community. 

Though influencer marketing looks a lot different now than in the 1800s, the concept of targeting a core group of influentials still makes an effective marketing strategy today. Community banks are at a particular advantage for using influencer marketing for a variety of purposes. Avidia Bank in Hudson, Massachusetts has been extremely successful with both organic and paid influencer marketing, even leveraging their own employees to grow brand awareness. Consider some of these examples of influencers who may be right for your community bank: 

  • Local entrepreneurs: These influencers are likely followed by aspiring entrepreneurs who will need business loans to start a small business.
  • Influential students: Younger people, particularly students, are an untapped niche in the community bank market. Utilizing local student influencers can help generate more customers and revenue for your community bank.
  • Adventure enthusiasts: Influencers who appeal to audiences interested in van life, boating, fishing, camping, and other “equipment-heavy” activities may be looking to purchase a boat, RV, or car which may require a loan from your community bank. Promoting your bank as offering these types of loans through influencers is another way to generate revenue through influencer marketing. 

Regardless of which path you take with influencer marketing, it’s important to choose individuals or organizations that align with your brand’s culture. The best influencers for your bank are people who embody your brand and culture, from your core values to internal structure. 

You can never be too cautious when it comes to choosing individuals who will represent your company. Take Will Smith for an example. By now, just about everyone has heard about the incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock, where Smith physically retaliated against a comment Chris Rock made during the 2022 Academy Awards. Since the incident, Smith has lost sponsorships with companies including Netflix and Sony. Companies are quick to terminate partnerships which do not reflect well on the company, as they should. Community banks can take a lesson from larger organizations to be very selective and provide rigid guidance that will allow influencers to produce content that accurately reflects your brand.  

Thoma Thoma delivers a special practice area devoted to community banks. Through Thoma’s unique Live Your Brand discipline, our community bank clients have tripled in size, driven efficiency ratios down, and become highly preferred destinations for talent. If you’d enjoy similar results in your organization, let’s connect!

Author Thoma Thoma

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