Are you more likely to pay attention to a product recommendation from a Google ad, or from a local parent you know and trust? If someone you know in your neighborhood offered you a useful product sample to try at just the right moment, wouldn’t you be more likely to try it with an open mind than if you were handed something randomly by an employee at a store? Most people prefer to learn about products (and a million other topics) from people who they already trust. Macaroni Kid does a better job than anyone at building a national infrastructure of trusted local influencers, and big-name brands are taking notice.
National Network, Local Influence
Macaroni Kid essentially operates like a publishing network, with individually contracted mom (and sometimes dad) publishers spread across the country. Macaroni Kid publishers offer advice, build relationships, test products, and operate as experts in their local area. They know the communities they call home and can discuss local topics with a level of detail that national bloggers can’t match. They build trust with their audience over the long term by being open, honest, and helpful… and being a part of the community personally and via their local newsletters.
Trust is such a huge deal in marketing, and Macaroni Kid publishers are trusted by their audience because they’ve done the work to earn that trust. The result is a national collection of localized influencers who have exceptional connections with the communities that they serve. Consumers turn to these influencers through social and blog comments, and direct interactions, to learn more about the local topics, events, and products that matter most to them.
A Good Example to Follow
Building that sort of dedicated audience requires a real commitment to growing relationships, which is something that plenty of brands should leverage and integrate into their own marketing. There’s also a more immediate perk that comes with an influencer network like Macaroni Kid, and brands are already leveraging it to their benefit. If you want someone to try your product/service and report on it to their audience, who could be better for the job than a local parent influencer that already has the implicit trust of that audience… who happen to be their neighbors?
There are a couple of ways that Macaroni Kid accomplishes that goal, including one great example of the potential of modern marketing. The first tactic is a product trial, where influencers try products while documenting the process from start to finish through video or blog posts. This is a more familiar, traditional method, but it’s still really effective. Putting the process in the hands of trusted influencers has a lot to do with that success.
The second tactic – and the one that really sets Macaroni Kid apart – requires those local influencers to actually get out and provide product samples to their audience. Ideally, the influencer will distribute the sample in a natural way, during a situation where it’s needed by the people around them. They might hand out sunscreen samples at a local Little League baseball game or share a new cooking product with local parents at a party.
It seems like such a simple idea, but how many brands can do this effectively, at scale on a national level… again, and again, and again? It’s not an easy thing to scale, because it’s hard to build a network of true local influencers. Macaroni Kid has already done it, but success didn’t come overnight. It took time, effort, and a true commitment to finding, nurturing, and building a business for local influencers.
This localized approach helps influencers/publishers get products in front of the right people at the right time, and the people receiving the product know that they are getting it from a trusted source. And Macaroni Kid does this all across the country! If you want to market your national business effectively, you need local influence.
Macaroni Kid understands that better than anybody, and I can only hope that big, national brands are getting the message.
This first appeared on Ted Rubin
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