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Industry Contributor 16 Jul 2020 - 3 min read

Influencer marketing, the digital word of mouth- it’s part of the ‘modern’ marketing mix + more…

By Stephen Howard, Director of Marketing - Ovolo Hotels

Word of mouth has and always will be the most powerful form of marketing, influencer marketing has just taken this into the digital form and placing some (not all) control into the hands of marketers. However, it is still very important to identify (most) influencer marketing plays a role in the marketing mix as part of a wider strategy for a brand.

Whilst there remains some scepticism around this channel, rightly so given fake followers and lack of robust governance, as there was around digital marketing (SEM, PPC and display) in the not too distant past. However, when this channel is utilised with both qualitative (having a relationship and an understanding of the influencers) and quantitative (using the analytics at hand ) perspectives taken into account  it can be a very powerful one – this has been seen through the very public Fyre Festival and more domestically with the likes of Bondi Sands products.

Awareness is the ultimate goal of influencer marketing, however the usage of these influencer needs to directly align with a particular strategy and scale of the business  driven on a macro level through mega influencers (Kim Kardashian) or on a micro level with nano influencers (John Smith from the local soccer club).

As Georgia Rickard from Co-Founder of The Travel Bootcamp says “Influence sits clearly between marketing and PR as its own point along a consumer’s path to purchase. When the relationship between an influencer and their audience is leveraged correctly, it can be a powerful means not just for branded messaging - used to raise awareness - but also to convert.”

It is also important to understand the power of this channel is not just around awareness but also from a user generate content or UGC perspective. As long as the content very clearly aligns with the businesses content pillars - at Ovolo Hotels our content pillars are. Fashion, Art, Music & Entrepreneurship (F.A.M.E) – and is inspirational, imaginative, or entertaining, this is also another key benefit. This is particularly true for those businesses which do not have big budgets, it allows a level of frequency and consumer targeting in their marketplaces which has not been previously afforded to them.

The key to success also lies in forging authentic partnerships with influencers who have a genuinely appropriate alignment and have an authentic affinity with the brand. Modern consumers are far too savvy to suffer messaging that lacks integrity - a bit of forethought, in other words, goes a long way.

It is important to understand the awareness and UGC benefits of such activity, particularly for small to medium size businesses, and ensuing the right influencers are utilised which align with the brand and the strategic direction of the campaign or business for the ultimate success -influencer marketing has its place within the modern marketing mix and can also be a successful channel in it own right if executed correctly

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Stephen Howard, Director of Marketing

Ovolo Hotels

Stephen Howard is a Marketing Communication professional with a variety of experience spanning over 19 years in a number of different industries and cultural backgrounds having lived in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

Stephen began his career studying at QUT in Brisbane, Queensland whilst running the Marketing and Promotions for a number of high-end hospitality venues. To further progress his career be relocated to Sydney in 2007 working The Popcorn Group running the PR and Marketing for the national social beach volleyball festival SLAM.

In an extreme change of direction, in 2008 Stephen moved into the car industry working for multi-national car company Hyundai Motor Company. Whilst at Hyundai he oversaw a complete brand evolution in the company launching a number of new vehicles and also implementing a new direction in their PR practices.

In July 2012, Stephen felt the need to return to where it all began in hospitality joining one of Australia’s largest hospitality and entertainment companies EVENT. Here he successfully launched the designer hotel brand, QT Hotels & Resorts the Australian and national markets whilst also overseeing the company’s group communications across EVENT businesses such as Event Cinemas, Rydges Hotels, Thredbo Alpine Resort, among others.

In 2017, Stephen furthered his education completing the Strategic Marketing Management course and the renowned Ivy League University, Harvard.

In 2018, Stephen joined the contemporary and forward thinking hotel group, Ovolo. Since joining Ovolo the company has expanded to more than 10 hotels globally, more than 8 F&B venues and has implemented many marketing communications strategies to assist in increase Ovolo's global brand awareness, enhanced digital customer experience, increase direct revenue and winning some prestigious awards including 'Brand of the Year' at the 2019 HM Awards. Additionally, in early February a new Ovolo brand positioning and creative will be unveiled!

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