Tom Augenthaler is the founder of 551 Media LLC, an influencer marketing consultancy that helps clients around the world.
He founded his website, The Influence Marketer, to share his ideas and knowledge with others looking to use this powerful strategy. Tom is a pioneer in the space and has been working with influencers since 2007 while with HP, and as a consultant helping corporate clients since 2009. He is an international speaker, corporate trainer and recognised as one of the Top 50 experts in the field by Talking Influence.
How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?
Through necessity! I was working for HP as part of their worldwide PR team in ’07 and ’08 handling consumer laptops. The economy was in terrible shape with publications going out of business. I needed to find a way to engage and interact with our target customers so I started working with bloggers (we didn’t call them influencers then). After a couple of pilot programs I determined that the results were good so I ramped it up to make it more sustainable and ongoing. Later I ran a campaign that involved a contest involving 31 influencers each giving away a laptop product for 31 days. The campaign not only sold millions of dollars of product, but created a sales lift for other associated products. In 2009 I left HP and began work for a consulting company that specialized in influencer marketing. There I led the B2B influencer practice and the HP Enterprise account for six years before going out on my own.
What topic areas are you most passionate about?
Influencer marketing is what I love the most, especially B2B, but I’m also keenly interested in social media and content marketing since they are disciplines that are closely related. Often, an effective influencer program includes interplay with social media and content marketing activities in order to maximize results.
Which influencers influence you within those key topics?
Naturally, I follow the people I know on Onalytica since its the only influencer marketing platform focused on B2B. I also follow people like Dan Fleyshman, Matt Heinz and others who I know believe know what they’re doing and supply valuable content.
Outside of key topics, who else influences you?
I follow Tim Ferriss whom I worked with back in ’08 while still with HP, Mike Dillard because of his entrepreneurship knowledge, and Michael Brenner who runs Marketing Insiders Group, a key B2B marketing site. I also follow a number of influencers who I’ve worked with on behalf of my clients. I’ve found that once I work with influencers, I not only like to follow them but stay in touch with them too. its all about relationships.
How would you describe your offline influence?
I do some speaking (now virtually because of the pandemic) and I publish articles on my website that are designed to help people solve marketing problems, especially those related to influencers.
Networking wise its challenging to do if you don’t spend time online – so that’s where I’ve been putting my time.I’m on LinkedIn everyday and correspond a lot with people there as they follow up with the content I publish. I’m also using Clubhouse quite a bit which seems to be a good platform for answering questions and helping people out in real time.
I’m in the process of writing a book and plan to publish it later this year.
What’s your best source of information for getting ahead of a story? What resource do you use to stay ahead of the trend?
I have a developed a great network of influencers so I rely on that quite a bit. I realize that’s private to me, but its the truth. I use Twitter a bit but that’s mainly to get involved in productive conversations about marketing. However, Twitter can sometimes be useful to get ahead of breaking news. I’ve also been using Clubhouse to get a better handle on some situations since people are in rooms there 24 hours a day and its possible to get scoop before the wider world learns of it.
If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?
What brands have you worked with?
I’ve worked with a lot of big name brands like HP, Dell, Adobe, Microsoft, SAP and other tech companies. But I’ve also worked with a lot of mid marketing companies are who aren’t as well known.
Which non-paid activities would you be keen to take part in if the opportunity raised your profile or delivered value to your audience?
I would be happy to provide a quote for content or news article, create a social post, long form or video content, speak at an event, podcast or a webinar, write a product review.
What are your passions outside of work?
Two main activities: Painting and historical fencing. In terms of painting, I enjoy landscape and abstract painting. Historical fencing is another matter. I’ve been doing that for over 10 years and I’ve narrowed down my focus to 16th century longsword, rapier, side sword and 14th century sword and buckler.
What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?