Influencer marketing is not a silver bullet for small businesses


Writer is co-founder of London-based shoe brand Sante + Wade.

He was a little serious. Internal lawyer for a shipping company that has no obvious interest in women’s fashion. Yet when we were sitting at the kitchen table talking about my new business, his ears got caught in a conversation between his wife and me.

“What is your marketing strategy? Where are you going to sell your product? How do people know about your brand? ” He asked.

All valid questions I answered, but it marked the beginning of what I noticed. It is the unintended consequence of starting a business. Everyone from family and friends to random strangers gives you one-sided advice.

A nugget of the Fame Hall of Fame is that many people will tell you to “find influencers”. This is usually offered in a strong tone as the only decision needed to sell the item and ensure its success.

This is not completely wrong. Think about Michael Jordan’s gravitational dunk-Nike relationship, or what George Clooney’s rugged charm did to Nespresso coffee. When influencers and brands team up, certain chemistries work, and their recommendations and megawatt smiles permeate our collective consciousness.

Access to prominent celebrities is beyond the reach of most small businesses, but further down the food chain collaboration is more likely. If anything, in reality you may have too many choices.

According to the latest influencer benchmark report, the influencer marketing industry is estimated to be worth $ 13.8 billion in 2021 and an increase of $ 4.1 billion from last year. But how do brands, especially small businesses, pursue this marketing strategy?

“You can see that there are hanging fruits,” explains the owner. Steak shop, Online meat supplier. “After that, it gets harder. You have to keep scouring the internet for the best creators. I don’t care how many subscribers. [rather the] Commitment and ratings [as] This is much more important and will help with the results. “

Steak Shop, a sister store to the award-winning Steak on the Green restaurant in West London, was founded during the first blockade in 2020. The ability to reach a large target audience that trusts influential opinions has transformed the business . ..

They started out slow and gave meat fillets to the content creators who constantly posted their backyard steak grilling YouTube videos. The results were immediate: increased traffic to their website and increased sales. The company is currently recruiting a manager to focus on this marketing strategy.

But every success story has a caveat. Blue Elvin, a brand that creates protective sportswear for weight-training women, was disappointed with the experience. They distributed a lot of products, but influencers didn’t offer them in terms of sales or content. As a result, they think this approach is more appropriate for large companies.

“It’s a great strategy for big brands that are profitable, have large inventory and multiple products,” said co-founder Tamara Short.

“They can offer influencers more attractive packages that small brands cannot buy,” she adds. “… Because it’s a numbers game, I’ve been against it from the start.”

It is a difficult situation to navigate for small businesses. It’s hard to demand that you can’t afford it, but without law enforcement, businesses can feel exploited if they don’t meet their expectations.

This is where credibility is the key. Find people who love what you do and who will use your product whether or not they receive a reward.

In fact, for now, Blue Elvin has avoided short-term influencer partnerships in favor of creating Paid Ambassador programs. This allowed them to find athletes who shared their values. “It’s a lot more goal-oriented than the way we work,” says Short.

According to Short, if they re-explore the influencer routes, Blue Elvin will focus on working with micro-influencers who have less than 15,000 followers. Studies show that this category tends to be more engaged than accounts with many followers.

But in any case, influencer marketing is not yet a silver bullet. That’s what I said before thanking my friend’s husband for his advice. Must be run with additional activities such as events and paid advertisements.

My business experience with this marketing strategy falls somewhere between the two examples above – and we’re still refining the marketing mix. It’s all trial and error, but if you’re lucky the combination may just turn to gold.

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