Greg Simpson, founder of Press for Attention PR and Enterprise Nation Champion for Nottingham, talks about partnering with influencers and how to do it right.
Look into my eyes. You are feeling reassured that your brand is about to go stratospheric. You know that by partnering with me and my 2000 Instagram followers after my whistle stop tour of ‘Love Island – The Rivals’, ‘Strictly Essex’ and ‘The Only Way Is Big Brother’ your business is in good hands. Let’s forget about the impending court case, all publicity is good publicity, right? WRONG!
As you may have spotted by my ever so SUBTLE tone, I am not a huge fan of reality TV and ‘celeb’ culture. However, many, many, MANY people are, including perhaps your customers and potential customers. So it is easy to see why so many small businesses consider ‘partnering’ with an influencer. Note ‘partnering’ – this is the key. I will come back to this.
I have written before on the merits and the potential pitfalls of partnering with megastars. In that example I referenced Saint Federer (my idol) but just imagine if right now, you as head of brand at Acme Ltd, had picked Novak Djokovic…the world number one. He’d be cheaper but…would you want that association?
Now, this kind of budget is beyond most of us in SME land so I wanted to discuss an option that is a little more feasible. Influencer Marketing.
You see, today’s marketing is often founded on personality. It is people who are becoming the biggest brands in the world (Kardashians anyone?). With this, the traditional ‘brand ambassadors’ approach to marketing has gradually altered, especially with the rise and rise of social media. We are in the age of The Influencers, many of whom are available to be leveraged by small business owners.
It is exciting but where do you even begin? How much do they cost? Where do I find them? Fear not, here is my no-BS guide.
Have you seen that bizarre documentary on the Fyre Festival? It is on Netflix and well worth a watch if you want to see how marketing and PR can swiftly unravel. Have a watch and then be even more shocked that Kendall Jenner pocketed about a quarter of a million dollars! For just one post. OMG, as she might emote. I have no clue!
The good thing is you don’t need that budget. You may not need anything, if you’re smart. If you are a small business or especially a micro-business just starting out, keep things simple and keep your entry level at zero. Yep, zero.
You see, ideally, your ambassadors should already be raving fans who CARE about your product or service. The important part is identifying people to work with and making it easier for them to talk about your business. This can include giving them free products or experiences and discount codes to share with users.
That is the entry level but the fees rise depending on their status; Micro, Macro and Mega. A Kardashian is a Mega influencer and charges mega bucks to reach her audience. Your Macro influencer still has a huge following but typically way under a million, perhaps half of that and will command a fee of anywhere from a few hundred quid to a few thousand. Then you have the Micro influencer and this is where the opportunity really is for smaller businesses.
We’re talking about a small following but a very niche one. The ones who are known for something very specific. Ideally, specific to you. Now typically they could be after a small fee but are probably keener on a free gift or partnership. Of course, the transparency of these exchanges is now far greater due to legislation and declaration of interest i.e. ‘I have been paid to do/say this’.
Finding them – think ‘authentic’
Guess what? You need to think like your customer and make sure there is a fit. Remember, ideally, they need to be fans of your business already or ‘get it’. Don’t go getting excited about influencers who aren’t in or talking to your target market.
If possible, they should conform to your ideal customer persona themselves or have the ability to reach them for you. What you’re really trying to do here is ‘short-cut’ your way to a certain status within a certain market, so make sure your audiences fit. Start by asking your customers what social media ‘influencer’ accounts they follow.
Show me the money – how does it all work?
Like anything, it depends on their value as much as their time and effort. You might have an informal crew of brand ambassadors who do their thing part time or simply for the love of your brand or they might be getting more involved.
You need to understand the potential of the PARTNERSHIP in terms of reach and also whether you will go longer term once the mutual trust is established and you can see the results. You might consider non-compete clauses and what happens if their star should fall. I’m looking at you Novak!
The key lesson is do your research. You are looking for an IDEAL partner who can up your game, not a paid face that might take an interest. As ever, think like your customer, who would impress them? Leave your ego and your personal idols out of it. Unless they fit.