Is it Influencer Marketing or is it Just Alex?

My friend Alex (whose name has been changed to protect the innocent) comes around a couple times a month with a sweet new do. Ask him about it, and he can talk for upwards of 30 minutes.

Surprisingly, he’s easy to listen to. His salon excitement is contagious, and I find myself wanting to visit this magical place with the free mimosas, funny stylists, and cute digs.

I’m not alone. Alex has probably sent that salon upward of 20 clients over the past few months. He’s an outgoing people-person and genuinely loves to talk it up.

Remember that word “genuine.”

Digital influencer marketing has exploded in recent years. An unsurprising 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (including strangers) over brands, so brands have been focusing their efforts on Youtube stars, Instagram lifestyle gurus, and Snapchat divas.

At this stage though, most of us know that many such influencer product recommendations are no more reliable than recommendations made by brands.

The solution that some companies are embracing is to find “influencers” with smaller reach, but genuine passion and trustworthiness.

Like this salon.

Not that this a new thing really. It’s old-old-old school do-a-good-job-and-be-happy-when-people-talk-you-up “marketing.” It’s the best, really.

The salon doesn’t have a specialized “influencer marketing” effort. Rather it offers a referral program with $20 off for new customers, and an additional $20 off for whomever referred them. Alex is ballin’. Cheap haircuts for days. Plus, the frequency and quality of his referrals is so good that Alex also enjoys free facials and pedicures – a sample of the wares so he can spread the word. First in line for appointments, he is always well taken care of.

Alex isn’t Instagramming his haircuts. He doesn’t use Snapchat, and his Youtube follower count is exactly two. His influence exerts itself, entirely unintentionally, over tacos and beer. He’s just a happy customer who happens to be extremely extroverted. The salon doesn’t even have an official influencer program, they just recognized a little goldmine when they saw one.

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