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March 20, 2024

New Ways to Market Through "Trusted Messengers" // Local Marketing Insider #077

What new non-employee thought leadership ads on Linkedin mean for marketers.

Hey! Welcome to Local Marketing Insider, where 14,000+ local marketing professionals get better at reputation strategy & more with insights delivered 2x a month.


This week, LinkedIn introduced the addition of non-employee thought leadership ads.

If you don't market your business via LinkedIn, there is a more generalized strategy here for you. But first, LinkedIn.

In recent history, you may have seen sponsored posts like this:

Chris is the CEO of Wistia, the company we use to host the videos on our website. The brand is using content from an employee in a paid format.

As a marketer, I've heard, "People want to hear from people, not brands" (for the most part) for a while now. That's why I've been sending you this newsletter from "Jake at Widewail" for three years now.

It’s the common thread behind customer reviews, creators, influencers, personal brands and other newly minted individual-led media.

People want to hear from people. And the ad networks are building new tools to support that.

Like the sponsored post from Chris above, in its first iteration, LinkedIn allowed brands to promote a post by an employee, typically the CEO.

New this week, sponsorship functionality will extend to anybody who is a 1st or 2nd-degree connection.


  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Influencer partners
  • Company partners
  • Investors

Consider the existing group of people who are organically promoting your brand online. Ad dollars are not only an efficient way to expand reach, but also target distribution to your ideal customers.

For example, last week we worked on a partnership post with Car Dealership Guy – a small, but influential, media company in the automotive industry.

We promoted one of our recent data reports, the Automotive Brand Reputation Scorecard, and it crushed. 

1.3M views and 800+ report downloads in 24 hours. This strategy is along the lines of an influencer sponsorship, and it was wildly effective. 


A healthy percentage of Car Dealership Guy’s audience is consumers, not dealers who would be Widewail’s target buyers. In the context of organic social, I don’t know if it's fair to call it waste, but these low-relevance impressions are unavoidable.

Adding paid spend allows you to build on top of a post’s organic reach while targeting the correct audience. With the built-in benefits of a trusted individual helping to amplify your brand’s message, this can be an impactful strategy.

There’s some good potential here, now ready for marketers to play around with.

Some brands are already employing this heavily. 

Clay, a data prospecting tool, has many examples in its Ad Library.

Upon researching further, I discovered the brand has a formalized creator program.

It's a referral, revenue share and large-scale influencer program, wrapped up into one. 

Pretty cool. The result? 

Clay gets inbound advocate content that can be turned into ads, potentially bringing in referral customers in exchange for a little rev-share if the person brings in new business.

I like it.

This all comes back to the trusted messenger; It's the concept at the core of Trust Marketing. 

Clever local marketers use advocates to connect their brand value and the prospect.

Simply because the prospect is more likely to listen to real people. 

We live in an attention economy. How you (or someone on your behalf) communicate the message determines whether it gets noticed or retained.

And the good news is that technology platforms like LinkedIn agree. They are building tools to facilitate this approach. 

Efficiently using paid tools to spread the message further, to the right people, over a longer period of time is a key technique to refine.

Time to start testing.

Thanks for reading!

See you in 2 weeks - Jake, Marketing @Widewail


Jake Hughes

I’m the Director of Marketing here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. I'm in Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0 to 100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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