J T. Ramsay is digital media manager at Ford Motor Company. We met at the 2016 North American International Auto Show, when Ford sponsored my trip to Detroit for the event.

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I invited J T. to Marketing Smarts to discuss Ford's influencer outreach and content strategy, including bringing bloggers and journalists to events, such as the Detroit Auto Show, to help share the brand's story.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Give influencers incredible experiences to talk about, then step back and let them create content for you (08:53): "When we bring people to Detroit [for the North American International Auto Show]...we just know that they're going to want to share the content. They're going to want to create content on their own, and it's going to make a huge impact in the reach of Ford's story. We saw it last year, and I think that's of critical importance. That's why we're always working with our influencers. We really value those relationships, and we're always looking to find new, interesting people to help tell the Ford story."

Take a holistic approach when assessing the return on influence marketing (09:55): "We're not just looking at one piece of this.... I work in corporate communications here, but we work very closely with our partners in marketing and brand on initiatives like this, so it runs the gamut. Each group has their own goals that they're driving toward. I don't think it can be pigeonholed into one thing.

"I think as it relates to local events, it's very much the same. We want to create rich experiences. We want to do dynamic storytelling in those markets. One of the things about how we at Ford have built our relationships is that they're not simply top down. We are working very closely with our regional teams to keep in touch and not simply 'parachute in' for national event or two a year. These are relationships that we maintain all year long, and do a series of local activations, whether that's 'Driving Skills for Life' or 'Ford's Smart Mobility Tour' that we did last summer. There are all kinds of different touchpoints that we have with our influencers that I think have been profoundly successful for us."

Influence marketing creates value for your brand, even if you can't always attribute a specific number of purchases to it (15:27): "Attribution is tricky, however, I think that with some of our influencers, they'll even tell us 'I went to this event, I told a friend, and that friend bought a Ford.' I think that what we see from content...[and] it goes without saying that content on social channels and also earned media is very important as part of your marketing mix to reach audience, period. And increase that purchase consideration. That is very much at the forefront of what we do. It's absolutely critical for a company like ours to be in that space, to be working with these influencers, and to be telling their story as broadly as possible to reach potential customers."

Below is the YouTube video chronicling the 2016 Explorer Platinum Adventure Tour, which brought bloggers together for an epic road trip (and gave them the chance to graffiti a $50,000 SUV).

To learn more about Ford Motor Company, visit corporate.ford.com, or follow J T. Ramsay on Twitter: @jtramsay. And be sure to check out the piece that J T. references during our conversation about Ford's "Farm to Car" initiative.

J T. shared many more great insights, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by Experian Marketing Services:

Re-think the traditional customer journey. Build a scalable framework that, like a "choose your adventure" novel, responds to each customer's decisions to deliver a unique path of experiences. Download our free guide to see how you can create intelligent interactions with your customers, every time.

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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