Best Practices in HR
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Candace Huntly
  September 4, 2016


We’ve been discussing influencer marketing and how it can help brands generate buzz across a wider audience faster and more efficiently by tapping into the most influential touchpoints. Most business owners have stars in their eyes (literally) thinking about having celebrities endorse their products. Then reality slaps you across the face when you realize that certain celebrities charge up to $280,000 for one branded Instagram post. For many small business owners, especially those just starting out with no financial backing, that’s more than you anticipate making in the first year or two of business… for ONE lousy Instagram post.

For many celebrity brand ambassadors and endorsements, it all boils down to how much you are willing to pay to have your brand name grace their lips or fingertips. What if you don’t have millions of dollars to invest in getting a celebrity on board? Simple. You have to re-evaluate your definition of celebrity to fit today’s world.

What is a celebrity?

I’ve talked before about what the “new” celebrity looks like. They are no longer just high-profile athletes and actors. With the way technology has allowed us to connect with each other, we have YouTubers, Instagrammers, local media personalities, bloggers, and the list goes on. Celebrities aren’t defined by fame, they are defined by how connected they are to their audience.

The exciting part about the nouveau celebrity is that it gives brands a direct line to niche audiences that might be harder to break into in terms of reach and trusted relationship-building. You are using an influencer’s connectedness to connect with your audience.

What does that mean for small businesses?

With this new outlook on celebrity status, celebrity influencers are way more accessible to small business owners. The approach to an influencer marketing strategy doesn’t change regardless of your budget, but how you execute will differ.

Here are a few things that will help you stretch your marketing dollars.

  1. The only time it’s ok to creep: Once you have created your list of influencers, get to know what makes them tick. You should have done this with your audience, so why not with each influencer if you are empowering them to become a brand ambassador? It’s like dating. You want to get to know someone before asking them to marry you.
  2. Build relationships: Everyone has to start somewhere. Gone are the days where you can just send your product directly to a celebrity and they will actually try it… While there is an off-chance they might try you out, the greater reality is that your product will likely go on a pile of other products sitting with the publicist, never to actually see the light of day ever again. Seeing as the nouveau celebrity is based on connectedness, try building a relationship by providing value and generating dialogue on social channels before pitching your product. It’s not a one-and-done situation. You always want to constantly find ways to provide value until they sit up and take notice because they have built up a certain amount of trust in what it is you have to say.
  3. Engage creatively: If it’s all about building relationships, how do you know when to take your relationship to the next level? And how do you do it? After you have established a bit of dialogue, and you have gotten to know the influencer’s style, it’s time to open the dialogue to discuss working with your brand. There are ways to make your brand stand out even if you don’t have a huge marketing budget. If you are working with a smaller budget, focus on creating an engaging story through messaging and finding ways to match your outreach to the story. For example, if your product has to do with the beach (ie. Sunscreen), then put together a “beach survival kit” with a towel, sunglasses, wet wipes, all in a fun beach bag. You might spend a little more on the packaging, however, if you focus on your top tier influencers, then you can send out fewer packages with a higher ROI.
  4. Your list is a living, breathing thing: Time is money, which can be especially problematic if you are working alone or with a small team. Influencers get a lot of pitches and they can be busy managing an editorial schedule of their own, but if you have tried to connect with a certain influencer and you get no response multiple times, it might be better to focus your efforts elsewhere. Don’t delete them, but shift them to an “in limbo” list where you can keep track, and you aren’t wasting your time in the outreach process. On the other end of the spectrum, new influencers are always popping up. Do regular research to see if there are any you can add to your list.

Influencer marketing can help you catapult your brand into the spotlight, regardless of what your budget is. Used wisely, a great campaign will put you on par with some of the big guys!