Influencer marketing is one of the biggest buzzwords of 2017, with 63% of marketers increasing their budgets for influencer spend. Influencer marketing is more than just a buzzword, though; it’s a strategic component to the overall marketing ecosystem, and one that has major staying power as a result of the success brands are seeing from its use. Forty-one percent of marketers say they have seen more success in influencer campaigns than in more traditional advertising efforts. However, we’re long past the days when brands could just throw money at talent with the biggest followings – brands need to carefully consider talent integrations before they are implemented to maximize ROI.
There are several considerations that brands must think through before carrying out an influencer marketing program. The first factor might seem obvious, but is crucial to the success of any program – what is your brand’s main objective for utilizing talent (besides driving sales)? While every marketing tactic has an end goal of impacting a brand’s bottom line, what is the driving force or rationale behind spending money on talent? Is it to build awareness and relevancy within certain audiences? Build a cool factor? Raise overall brand credibility? Identifying the “why” behind your campaign is the first step in creating a successful integration.
Once the main objective is clear, brands can begin identifying the right talent to achieve their goals – and this is where it can get tricky. Brand marketers first need to separate themselves from their business. Don’t choose talent based on who you personally identify with or gravitate toward; you’re not choosing a new friend, but carrying out a marketing activation. Instead, focus on the consumers you are targeting. Who excites them? What are they following, watching and reading? Is there an influencer who is already a natural fan of your brand? Just because you may not personally like their style or aesthetic doesn’t mean they aren’t right for your brand campaign – they may resonate perfectly with the audience you are trying to target.
A good way to find talent who will resonate with your key audience is to look at the types of people and brands an influencer is already following and any existing partnerships, along with how many partnerships they are already a part of. You don’t want someone who signs a deal with anyone who throws money at them, but those who only work with brands that have a natural fit. Segment talent by interest, follower demographic and geographic reach to ensure the majority of their audience aligns with the key markets your brand wants to target.
Before reaching out to talent for negotiations, it’s important that brands have a real sense of accurate pricing for this type of marketing. At the moment, it’s the wild wild west out there – the definition of influencer is so broad that there is no real standard going rate for influencers. Do you want to work with an A-list celebrity or a micro-influencer? Price ranges will vary drastically based on those types of questions. Without having an idea of the price tag, brands can easily find themselves blindsided by the high cost of talent they were really excited by, or might end up overpaying without the experience to understand the right price for the level of talent they are engaging.
Finally, brands must have a developed strategy in place before bringing on talent. You wouldn’t task a celebrity with creating a TV ad storyboard, so don’t expect talent to go in blind when it comes to the type of content and programs they are participating in on behalf of your brand. After all, you’re spending money on these programs and, to ensure their success, you need to have a creative brief prepared from the beginning that clearly defines the story your brand ambassadors will be tasked with telling. By having this defined early, it helps eliminate lost time and money.