Finding Unicorns in Maslow’s Pyramid - Max Matthews

  • Mon 22nd May 2017

4 Guaranteed Tips to Finding and Developing Relationships with the ‘Right’ Influence

Max Matthews

There’s a mindset in the marketing industry that ‘everything is for sale’.

  • Want a million eyes on your Facebook post? Sure, that’ll be $15,687.71
  • Want to dominate the top ad on google search, every time? Easy, hope you’re happy to pay $62 a click 😉

When it comes to influencers though, it’s less about “How much do they cost?” as much as it is “Who can we get to drink the kool aid?”.

The truth is, there is definitely a science behind finding the perfect influencer, but it can be a bitter pill to swallow when you’re used to ‘buying’ your reach and engagement. Influencer marketing itself is an art, and when you try and buy your way in, all the money in the world isn’t going to help your cause.

It may sound lame, but what you really need is compassion.

Influencer marketing is about emotion, adrenaline, goosebumps, fitting in, missing out, the list goes on, but the one thing you’ll never find in a list of descriptive terms about influencer marketing is arrogance.

It’s the exact arrogance (or ignorance, depending how you look at it) that comes with the question “How much does a viral video cost?” or “I know <insert influencer> doesn’t normally use my kind of product, but how much would it cost to get them to change their mind?”.

If that’s how you’ve been looking at your influencer marketing efforts, like just another channel to throw money at, you need to pay attention to this next section.

In his book “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” Dale Carnegie discusses our deep need to feel important, and if you’re involved in influencer marketing, it’s a must read. Being made to feel important or ‘valued’ is one of the most profound needs we have as human beings. Think about it. Which people in your life have had the most influence on you?

Chances are, these people were able to make you feel important at one point or another. It’s why you allowed them to influence the way you think. For example, when @lichipan, with her 600k followers, replies directly to one of her follower’s comments, she is strengthening an ever-tightening bond with her dedicated fans, and showing her extraneous ones she’s a worthy influencer.


Mitchell Wick for Tiger Beer

Fortunately, it’s not too hard to show others how much they matter, and by using the following four methods derived from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you can create powerhouse influencer relationships with your brand that lead to ‘truly’ viral content.

Step One: Create Love

If you can recall day one at university, you’ll remember that Maslow’s Hierarchy speaks to the spectrum of needs a human being normally goes through as they progress through life. Starting off with food and shelter, once the basics are covered we move onto love and belonging.

Love and belonging basically means, “Where do I fit in?”. The voice in your head tells you that once you’ve found your place in the world, everything will be ok.

There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of influencer demographics one can appeal to as a marketer. The trick is not getting intimidated by the sheer number of options, but instead thinking about what type of person would genuinely become a fan of your product.

Once you’ve got your bull’s eye, we now work backwards in finding the right influencer. Best way to get started is by going to Google and typing in “Top hashtags in the (your) industry” then dedicating half an hour of your day to browse through the list of ‘top posts’ on Instagram under the given hashtags. This is to collect a basic mood board of your perfect influencer (you might even get lucky and find your perfect match this way).

If you’re only after one influencer, make sure you create a shortlist of at least five. Your dream influencer may have other commitments, so you need other options.

Once you’ve found him or her, it’s time to start the relationship. Think of it as part employee, part new love. You’ll want to schmooze them like a date, but keep it all above board and professional. Reaching out to them via their given channels with a request for a PO box is a good start, then sending a beautifully crafted package that truly represents what your product or service is about, will open the door to future conversations.

Only fuckbois want to bang on the first date, you want to play the long game.

Remember, you are sending this out of the kindness of your heart. Do not ask them to post, don’t even give them a hashtag to use. It’s terribly presumptuous. If they want to post a photo of your beautifully hand crafted package, then so be it, but it should not be a stipulation of the gift.

Once you’ve created a bit of love, now we target the esteem.

Step Two: The Esteem Dream

All humans have a need to feel respected. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People who don’t get a sense of fulfillment from their jobs will often engage in a hobby to gain recognition, or at least give themselves a sense of contribution or value. In 2017, social media has filled this hole for many people almost completely.

It sounds dark when you put it that way, right?

Well think about it this way, the influencer that you’re hoping to make viral content with has their own esteem to deal with. You’ve already opened the door by creating a feeling of reciprocity via the gift. Now it’s time to offer them a proverbial payment.

First thing you should know, influencers are getting paid good money to create decent content every day, so your challenge here is continuing to build the relationship to be more than just transactional. I’ve been on both ends of the coin, and I can tell you that paying a large scale influencer you have no relationship with $3000 to produce some content is basically the same as paying a professional photographer to make it for you.

The content will undoubtedly be beautiful, but it won’t have any effect on your business aside from creating new, pretty pieces of content to use in wider marketing efforts. The easiest way to achieve this by using money alone is through creation of ambassadorships. You want to try and lock the influencer in for an ongoing term, and pay them for it accordingly.

In other words, your unicorn is out there, but you need to understand they won’t come cheap, and will require an emotional upkeep. Which brings me to my next point.

Step Three – Self Actualize Me

“What a man can be, he must be”. This quote from Maslow formed his final need. When you realise what you were put here to do, you give yourself to it completely. This is the desire to become the person you know you can be.

As a marketer, you can tap into this desire to appeal to your unicorn influencer. Don’t ask what they can do for you, but instead ask how you can help them achieve their goals. Framing the relationship as a partnership or ambassadorship will further strengthen the bond you share on an emotional level, dampening the focus on financial gain.


Lauren Vickers, the face of and ambassador for Tuscan Tan

This is not to say you can stop paying them, but the payment should become automatic from both sides. You pay them accordingly, they accept payment, but the main focus is on creating beautiful content and developing a beneficial relationship for the both of you.

I realise the crux of this article is discussing the importance of everything except money, but if you’re not in a financial position to pay the influencer, you need to seriously consider whether this is the right avenue for your business. As a business, you need to value the influencer’s time more than you value your own, and if you wouldn’t give away your products or services for free, you sure as hell can’t ask someone else to do it.

Put yourself in their shoes if it helps: would you help some random brand advertise their product without payment? The only brand I’ve ever worked with who gets away with it is Nike.

And well, duh.

Step Four: Transcendence of Self

In his later years, Maslow realised he had been somewhat mistaken in placing the final onus of his hierarchy on the actualization of ‘self’. In reality, the final goal of man is to give himself completely to something else. Something he or she feels is beneficial to the greater good. It is the most holistic level of human consciousness, behaving and relating as an ends rather than means to oneself, to significant others, and to human beings in general.

As such, the final point to take away from all this is that the best ambassadorships are long running, memorable and nostalgic. They exist long after the relationship has died. In the hearts and minds of your consumers.

Sure, if your selling motor oil or clothes hangers, achieving this level of customer buy-in is near impossible, but even so, the catalysts required to make those things achievable already exists in nature. Give someone goosebumps, and they will never forget you.

You want your influencer to think about you the same way as your customers feel about your products. By developing this sense of satisfaction and belonging over time, you will discover the real truth behind finding your unicorn…

Unicorns don’t exist; they are made

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  • Mon 22nd May 2017