The world of influencers and brand advocates is often viewed just as something born out of the mysterious new world of social media and pureplay retailing.

And in the relatively short history of digital marketing, influencers have been shown to work dramatically well to increase customer visibility and commercial performance. Take the mercurial rise of Gymshark for example. In 10 years, one young man’s dream to create a performance led range of gym wear has grown into a $1 billion business. Its popularity fuelled through the influence and advocacy of the world’s most famous YouTube power lifters and body builders.

However, the use of poorly selected and brand irrelevant minor celebrities has undermined much of the credibility behind influencers. Just as customers have become cynical of brands, they are now equally cynical of the voices they employ to speak for them. Influencers and advocates seem to have lost their all-important impartiality.

Of course, influencers are not new. Word-of-mouth remains one of the most essential ways to build awareness and customer loyalty. Word-of-mouth is all about the influence of ordinary people, and it is as old as the proverbial hills. Something to be cherished and nurtured by every shopkeeper who stands behind a shop counter, or now pens a blog, or a social media post.

But who influences word-of-mouth? The answer of course is yourselves as founders, owners, managers & retail employees. You are potentially your own best influencers! But you will only realise that potential if you take your own advice. If you live and breathe what you advocate to others!

The Health Sector in particular fills the first few months of every year with mountains of well-meaning advice. This is the time to turn over new leaves, start afresh, move yourself to new levels of health and fitness. But what do you do?

It is easy to criticise the reality TV stars of fabricated brands, but what about your own reality? What does your lifestyle, your ethics and your state of wellbeing say about you and your business?

It is not too late for 2024. New leaves appear in springtime as much as New Year’s Day. What should you be doing to add credibility and authority to your message and your brand? Can you talk with personal experience about the trials and tribulations of losing weight, giving up smoking, taking the journey from couch to 5K? Can you speak with genuine excitement about the new products that you sell?

The ‘beauty’ of your potential, unlike the unachievable ‘beauty’ of reality TV, is that you do not need to achieve perfection. In fact, your role as your own influencer will be more credible and more powerful for all your failures as much as your successes.

As independent retailers, as small chains, your reputation, and your livelihoods depend on your authenticity and your passion. For every piece of advice that you offer, every recommendation that you give, you must have tried it, tested it, lived it, and breathed it as much as any of your customers  will.

And you must communicate this authenticity, promote this passion, and simple glow with your convictions, across the counter, via your blogs and posts, and through every touchpoint and conversation you have as you go about your daily business, and your everyday lives.

So, as we move further into February, what is still left to do from your new year’s resolutions? In the daily race to sell more, what personal goals do you still need to buy into, before your customers buy into you?