There are two main KOL marketing strategy plans used today.
The first is “campaign-based” — a strategy that conceptualises your KOL collaborations around short-term campaigns. These are limited by set time periods and specific goals, like promoting an event, sale, or product launch.
The second is an “always-on” strategy, which entails ongoing partnerships with KOLs and consistent campaigning.
An effective KOL marketing plan involves mixing elements from both strategies. However, since most marketers organise their KOL collaborations around short one-off campaigns, this article will explain the latter.
Always-On KOL Marketing Strategy
Fundamentally, “always-on” strategy means brands should engage with KOLs and their audiences outside of peak campaign periods. Too many brands disappear from KOLs’ radars after doing a seasonal promotion or product launch, and then reach out a year later when they need something new. You should engage with KOLs and consumers all the time because building strong relationships with KOLs isn’t a one-time effort.
Furthermore — as we detail here — it’s essential that consumers see your product over and over. You’ve probably heard of the Rule of Seven, a marketing axiom which states prospects need to see an advertiser’s message at least seven times before they’ll take action. Today, the amount of messaging that bombards us daily means the number is probably much larger than seven!
Either way, it’s been proven that increased positive contact with consumers helps develop and sustain your relationship with them, leading to more sales.
In the West, marketers often use retargeting to increase contact.
Retargeting is a tactic that tracks web users’ site or product browsing history to send them custom, tailored ads when they use social media or other websites. Essentially, the product follows them around the web, reminding them of its existence until they eventually make a purchase.
Retargeting technology is not available in China to the extent it is in the West. That’s why always-on KOL marketing strategy is so important here.
By consistently working with many KOLs over a long period of time, you can replicate that effects of retargeting. In other words, always-on ensures consumers see your product on many sites and platforms while giving the added benefit of credibility that KOLs provide.
When the awareness that a KOL campaign creates is combined with positive e-commerce rating & reviews, brand’s own educational/entertaining content, ads, SEO/SEM/ESO, and events, brands will multiply their effect.
Working with KOLs, creating amazing brand owned educational/entertaining content, and community building should become a core competency of all modern B2C consumer goods brands. And just like content marketing and community building, KOL marketing should be looked at as a long-game. Results will increase with time and consistency. And of course, there should be scrutiny, KPIs, and a focus on ROI but in a more holistic way.
Here are two other reasons why an always-on strategy is so effective:
Always-on means always learning
By constantly working with KOLs, you will improve and refine your marketing processes and figure out what works. When the time comes for a large campaign, the data and knowledge you’ve accumulated from continual trial-and-error will pay dividends.
Additionally, if you engage in small collaborations with several new KOLs per month, you can determine which KOLs generate solid results. You should add these to a master-list of potential KOLs for long-term partnerships.
Holiday campaigns are more expensive than off-peak campaigns
Brands who only work with KOLs during peak holiday periods spend way more on KOL collaborations than those who work with them during other times. At PARKLU, we found that September through January is a particularly busy time for KOLs, as well as spring. Winter and summer are a lot quieter.
KOLs often charge more in peak seasons — it’s simply the Law of Supply and Demand. What’s more — they’ll have less time and energy to focus on your project, and your brand will have a harder time standing out during major shopping festivals like Singles’ Day among the deluge of other KOL promotions.
Many KOLs actively seek work during quieter periods and are very receptive to working with new brands.
Now that you understand the benefits of always-on strategy, let’s see what exactly it entails.
An always-on strategy requires ten or more KOLs each month. Ideally, you should work with 50 or more. If your budget does not allow this many actual campaigns, you can at least send products to as many KOLs as you can. Product seeding can earn exposure for your brand while strengthening relationships with KOLs.
The overwhelming amount of information published daily means staying on top of KOLs’ and consumers’ minds is crucial to your brand’s long-term success. In China, an always-on KOL marketing strategy is the best way to do that.