Influencer Marketing - You're Doing It Wrong

Calling all marketers that say “influencer marketing doesn’t work” --- You’re doing it wrong!

Someone extremely intelligent that I respect recently told me that they felt influencer marketing was on the way out because “it doesn’t work” and proceeded to tell me the details of this campaign which had my insides screaming “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” 

With 85% of marketing and communications professionals expecting to execute at least 1 influencer campaign in 2017*, the data is in my corner when I say it isn’t going anywhere.  If anything, influencer marketing is on the rise, but the underlying execution and strategy is changing.

Let’s talk about what’s “not working”:

·       TV Advertising – Aside from live events, what consumer hasn’t found an easy solution to avoid commercials (that cost millions in ad buys, by the way)?

·       Digital Ads – Ad blockers, ad blockers, ad blockers everywhere.

·       Print Ads – Are these extinct yet?  I kid, I subscribe to a number of magazines and newspapers, but most of my time is now spent online and on social media like most consumers these days.  Can anyone recall the last print ad that caught their eye?  Was it because a celebrity was in it?

The above would be considered “traditional marketing”, which is hanging on by a thread, yet it’s still considered a “safe” investment by most brands when it comes to budgets.  But even with the above tactics, how do you prove the ROI?  Number of Impressions?  If your product can be purchased online and your goal is to drive sales, you can track the click-thru and your sales funnel, but that isn’t always the goal of a marketing campaign and certainly doesn’t cover every brand marketing and advertising to the consumer. 

Proving ROI has ALWAYS been the #1 struggle for marketing and advertising professionals, so why do we expect influencer marketing to suddenly solve this puzzle?

So, let me ask you this: what didn’t work with your last influencer campaign?  Low engagement? No measurable ROI?  It’s possible that the reason it “didn’t work” is because of poor execution or unrealistic expectations set.

Influencer Marketing is more than paying for a tweet or a single Instagram post (and if that’s how you define “influencer marketing”, you’re absolutely doing it wrong!).  If you’ve read any of my past entries, you know what I’m going to say: ENTERTAINMENT IS KING!

Influencer Marketing is most effective when it’s part of a larger multifaceted strategy, it focuses on entertaining rather than selling, and can leverage micro-influencers, social media & digital influencers, and/or celebrities.  These campaigns vary in scale and cost – Opportunities exist for budgets and brands or all sizes!  (Have you seen American Express’ #ShopSmall #AmexAmbassador campaign leveraging influencers of ALL LEVELS – you literally cannot miss it!)

Here are some questions/steps to think about before activating your next influencer campaign.  With solid execution and planning, you’ll put this “influencer marketing doesn’t work” to bed – for good:

Marketing Basics:

  • Who is your target market?
  • What social platforms do they spend the most time on?
  • What type of content do they respond to?
  • Where else do they spend time online?
  • Identify KPIs to measure success
  • Set a goal based on established KPIs (be as specific as possible – brand awareness, website traffic, sales, etc.)
  • Can these assets (images, video, blog entries, statements, etc.) be repurposed?**

Influencer Marketing Basics:

  • Research, identify, & secure appropriate influencers - Should align with the answers to the “Marketing Basics” outlined above
  • Learn the Influencers’ tone, voice, and review their existing content & style
  • Allow the Influencer(s) to use their creative genius when developing the campaign assets
  • Outline complete ask upfront – total posts, type of content, important brand messaging, etc. (Budget and negotiation tactics will be adjusted accordingly)

 

**Contact STILETTO for your next successful influencer campaign.  We are full service and handle it all, to identifying the influencers, negotiating the terms and/or fees, and final execution. 

 

 

*Statistics from eMarketer survey for 2017

 

3 Influencer Marketing Statistics You Need to Know for 2017

With 2016 winding down, here are some statistics about a marketing tactic that’s expected to nearly double in 2017 and should be incorporated into every brand’s marketing mix:

Influencer Marketing.

The Why:

Entertainment is King!  Branded content held the throne for long enough, but if the content isn’t entertaining it will be dismissed by the viewer.  Consumers, especially millennials, hate being marketed to so baking your brand messaging into a piece of entertaining content has become imperative for future successful campaigns.  Influencers create unique and authentic content that increases reach, recognition amongst consumers, and most importantly – It entertains their fan base while sharing your brand messaging, driving engagement, and increasing traffic to the brand’s social media pages, website and/or landing pages.  The most successful influencer campaigns allow for the talent to put their personality into the content, which allows for an organic and authentic campaign that engages your target demographic. 

3 Influencer Marketing Statistics You Need to Know for 2017*:

1.       94% of marketers find influencer marketing to be an effective strategy

2.       78% of marketers say proving ROI will be their #1 hurdle in 2017 (so nothing’s changed here!)

3.       2016 Average Budget per Influencer Campaign: $25k - $50k**

**Influencer marketing budgets are set to DOUBLE in 2017.

STILETTO specializes in entertainment and influencer partnerships.  Contact STILETTO to build your next successful marketing campaign.

 

 

*Data sourced by Linqia, via Adweek.

Week Weed PDX 2016 - 8 Hot Topics

In my professional career, I’ve attended conferences and trade shows across all sorts of brand categories: fitness & health/nutrition, tech, outdoor recreation, consumer food & beverage - you name it, I’ve probably been there!  This past week I attended Weed Week PDX 2016, which is a cannabis industry event where professionals specializing in each aspect of the business get together to share best practices & innovations, industry trends, and network.  While in many ways, the programming was very much like your traditional industry conference, the discussions I participated in allowed me to take a step back to more fully understand how the industry currently functions and see where the industry is headed.

The cannabis industry is in a state of transition and innovation, and on the verge of a big boom with recreational marijuana being legalized in a number of big markets this past election.  In sessions, I spent most of the time listening – listening to the questions of consumer brands, growers, retail owners/operators, etc.  I glanced at the notes of those sitting around me to see what their big takeaways were.  From very green to branding experts, it was clear that with the cannabis industry is still finding its legs to some degree.  Trial and error will be the game for a bit, but the good news is that at this stage there is room for experimentation. 

Here are the top 8 topics of discussion that were of most interest to the contacts I met at Weed Week PDX 2016:  (Please note: Budgets outlined are not quoted by STILETTO, but by other cannabis industry leaders)

·       80:20 Rule (Sales): Highly saturated market with more and more products entering the market, while 80% of the sales are from 20% of the available product.

·       Relationship-Oriented Business: Sales are heavily reliant on the relationships with Budtenders, and the Budtenders’ recommendations to consumers.  Will this shift as the industry grows and brands begin marketing directly to the consumer and if so, how do brand effectively market?  Answer - Yes, but the importance of Budtenders will still be a top priority.  Social Media and PR will play a large role in reaching existing and new consumers.

·       Social Media: Social media is a huge opportunity as it is less regulated and accessible to everyone, but has also created some hurdles since cannabis has been a controversial product in the past (and sometimes, still is). 

o   Brands also have difficulty allocating time to a process that doesn’t have a “proven” ROI in terms of sales or driving foot traffic.

·       Influencers (Digital, Social Media, & Celebrity): Playing a larger part in marketing cannabis than ever, and expected to increase along with the expansion of the industry

·       Consumer & Industry Data: There are services that can provide real-time analytics, such as Headset, there is very little consumer data available since transactions are conducted in cash and few consumers sign up for a “subscription” or “frequent shopper” program. 

o   Current Stats Include*:

- Average $ per Transaction: $33

- Male/Female Purchaser – 2:1 Ratio

- Average Consumer Spend per Year: $1k - $2.5k

- Average Age of Consumer: 37

*Data provided by Headset

·       Cannabis Media/News Outlets & PR: Top Content that is Featured

o   Promoting an industry event

o   Content Marketing - Focus on educating the reader versus selling the product – If the product is innovative, especially in the medical arena or reaching a new demographic, focus on that aspect.  If it feels like an ad, it won’t be included in their content

o   LOVE research/data-driven content – There is a lack of data in the industry, so independent studies that carry weight are likely to be shared.

·       Branding: How important is branding? Answer: VERY. 

o   Investing early in branding materials that align with your brand and price point will help your products stand out in a saturated market, increase Budtender recommendation, and save you from a re-brand after your product is already established and recognized by your consumer.

o   Branding Budget: OMD Agency recommended a minimum budget of $25k for comprehensive branding.

·       Marketing Budget: Recommended Marketing Budget - $3k/mo Minimum*

*May vary by product category and medium/platform.  Also, dependent on tactics utilized (influencers, etc.).

In addition to the above information, in the Day 1 recap, we touched on many marketing tactics that will be leveraged as brands further develop their marketing campaigns and expand their consumer base.

STILETTO will develop and execute marketing strategies that maximize the impact of your budget, as well as secure strategic brand partnerships and PR.

Please contact STILETTO directly for a free consultation to discuss marketing strategies to differentiate your brand.

5 Mistakes Brands Must Avoid with Influencer Campaigns

As with any project, things are overlooked and fall through the cracks during the implementation process, but below are 5 easily avoidable mistakes that are all-too-common. Also, here are a few tips to ensure your influencer campaigns will stay on track and achieve (and exceed!) the desired result.  Influencer campaigns not only yield great results, but they're also fun and often provide great content that can be picked up for additional press and PR.

1.      Not Defining the Goals & Relevant KPIs in Advance

Too often brands don’t determine the campaign goals and KPIs before an influencer activation. They get excited about the activation and work on the other details, but don’t outline where the bar is set for success. There are 2 problems with not documenting these specifics in advance. 

a.      How do you determine if the campaign was a success if you don’t know what to measure? You can read analytics reports, track sales and website hits all day, but without a set target it becomes more difficult to determine which campaigns are more successful and what components of each were most effective and should be utilized for future programs.  

Side Note: This also allows you to fairly compare campaigns against each other when establishing and allocating budgets. If the metrics are available you can more easily evaluate where you can get the most bang for your buck.   

b.      By setting the goals and KPIs in advance, the campaign scope and direction will remain intact. Is the campaign’s focus to increase overall brand awareness or are you targeting a niche consumer base within your industry? Is the goal to drive consumers to your website or to build a social following? There are many questions to be answered when building a campaign, but when all the components are outlined in advance the brand messaging will be concise and consistent, the influencers will be identified and secured with those goals in mind, and the campaign will be more successful as a result.

TIP: Be specific with your goals and be sure to put measurement mechanisms in place so you can track each component and course correct mid-campaign if necessary.

2.      Not Identifying the Correct Platforms

Where is your target audience?Who is your target demographic?  Old, young?  Male, Female? Is your product more of an impulse purchase or does it require a bit more education before a consumer buys in? The answers to questions like these may uncover that specific platforms are better for reaching and engaging your consumer. And remember, you don’t have focus on all platforms.  Snapchat and Instagram Stories, while newer and more “hip”, but is your audience engaging on those platforms and will those platforms help you hit your goals?

This will also dictate the influencer chosen to drive the campaign. Before selecting an influencer, you need to identify where your audience is finding information about your product and where they engage with their friends, family, and other brands. Choose an influencer that aligns in those areas. An influencer’s voice and audience can vary based on the platform.  The type of content (video, boomerang, static image, etc.) created may also vary based on the preferred platforms.

TIP: Ask for detailed information about the influencer’s audience and engagement rate on each platform before including them in the campaign. Available details will vary by platform.

3.      Handcuffing the Talent

The influencers have proven themselves capable of creating unique content that the consumer genuinely enjoys and actively engages with on a regular basis. It is fair to request certain brand message points to be included or share inside knowledge of what has been “successful” in the past, but DO NOT handcuff the talent by taking away their creative control and voice. Share what has worked in the past and what has not, but no one has a better sense for the community than the person who built it and engages with it on a daily basis.

While the brand should always have final approval on content and copy to go live, the branded content should still entertain and feel authentic to the influencer's audience.  If not, the engagement and overall success will be compromised. 

TIP:  It’s ok to take a risk and let the influencer put their spin on the brand messaging and content. While the brand is an expert in their field, the influencer is the expert when it comes to their audience.  

4.      Limiting your Impact with Short Term Engagements

Unless there is a particular event or a firm expiration date for a campaign, most are successful if there are repeated engagements so the audience can build a relationship with the brand.  It also reinforces the authenticity and organic relationship between the brand and the influencer.

On the flip side, don’t overdo it.  The consumer can sense when a product is being forced on them. Too many posts or really heavy content will lead to decreased engagement and potentially negative feedback.

TIP:  Add in the option to renew or extend an engagement based on the success of the initial campaign.

5.      Focusing on Impressions versus Engagement. 

Don’t be lured in by a large following. Weigh your options.

Sometimes the influencer with the smaller follower has a more niche audience and perhaps a stronger influence over their following. Impressions matter, but engagement is key and much more valuable. 

TIP:  Consider the influencer with smaller followings and niche focus areas. Engagement on smaller accounts is often higher due to the follower feeling they have more of a “voice” within the community.

Now you're ready!

There are many ways you can work with an influencer and when executed correctly can yield big results. Get creative, take a risk or two. Start small or big, there is no reason to not dabble in the influencer-driven campaign space!

Feel free to reach out to me directly for questions and assistance!