“Hey, don’t I know you?” — How SMBs can leverage celebrity influencer marketing to grow their brands

SMBs & Celebrity

 

 

Nike does it. So does Apple. Disney was one of the first to do it. Microsoft is paying the NFL more than $100 million dollars over the next five years to do it for them.

When it comes to celebrity influencer marketing and brand ambassadors, it’s not who you know – it’s how much you’re paying them to know you. It’s a great strategy, particularly if you’re a billion dollar brand looking to maintain your presence in a crowded market.

But what if you’re not a billion dollar company? Is celebrity influencer marketing still a viable tactic for your company?

SMBs and Influencer Marketing

Let’s be clear – influencer marketing works no matter what size your company. And by offering an ROI of 6.5:1, influencer marketing can quickly become a marketer’s best friend. So why add a celebrity – and the risk that comes with that celebrity – to the mix?

“The whole concept of celebrity is very different than it was just a few years ago,” said Jamie Reardon, CEO of Find Your Influence, a leading influencer marketing platform. “Even as short as five years ago, you would never have seen movie stars making commercials or endorsing brands stateside.”

The point resonates as you examine just the very concept of “celebrity”; no longer limited to high-profile athletes and movie stars, celebrities now run the gamut to YouTube sensations and viral video hit makers, to reality TV stars and more. In fact, for the sake of this piece, a celebrity is no longer defined by how “famous” they are, but instead, by how motivated their target audience is.

“The celebrity marketplace is much more fractured than it has ever been. As content – and the way people receive that content – continues to personalize to an audience, so does the nature of those celebrities and their relationships to consumers,” continued Reardon. ““There are a lot more “celebrities” today than ever before – and given the increasingly fractured nature of the celebrity market, more and more celebrities are extending beyond their “celebrity”, and are building brands.”

Celebrity brands have become an alternative revenue stream to celebrities, and as such are very valuable if nurtured properly, to maintain a relationship with their target audiences.

Ryan Brunty, head of Social for Zappos COUTURE, agreed.

“We are living in an incredibly interesting time in which we are hyper connected to not only each other, but the pop culture icons we love and adore, sad Brunty.

Never before in history have we been able to share information at this rate and furthermore, connect on such a deep and personal level with our chosen celebrities. This extends to celebrities and the fact that we are now able to witness personal vignettes of their lives as though they’re close, personal friends of ours.

That makes for a very interesting proposition – who do consumers trust when it comes to what we purchase? Our friends, of course!

“Consumers are now able to get styling tips, shopping advice directly from their pop culture icons, said Brunty. “Interestingly enough, celebrities are now becoming their own pseudo-retailers as well, creating a personal shopping experience plugged into their blogs/websites.”

By that logic, celebrity influencer marketing is an extension of that circular experience. Marketers are challenged with aligning trust with the celebrity endorsement’s demographics while also staying true to their own brands.

Why are celebrity endorsements so valuable to SMBs?

Celebrity brands are a multi-billion dollar business today, but there are only so many mega-brands to go around, which makes celebrities more and more accessible to smaller brands than ever before. Given this increasingly fractured marketplace, marketers are finding it difficult to continue using traditional (think direct mail, or even email) marketing methods.

So instead of a one-at-a-time approach, marketers are learning the benefits of influencer marketing, or leveraging an audience with an audience.

“Influencer marketing is the new word-of-mouth, but scalable – and cost-effective,” said Reardon. “SMBs don’t have the resources to market one-at-a-time, so influencer marketing makes a lot of sense – communicate to a large group who share a common interest through a mutual thought leader, and you’ll see a much higher conversion rate.”

Zappos COUTURE agreed and began their first celebrity marketing campaign working with Lauren Conrad and the LaurenConrad.com team.

“It has become very important for our Zappos COUTURE marketing initiatives to add influencer marketing to our yearly budget to supplement other areas of focus, said Brunty. “I would say it’s important for anyone in the retail space to highly consider this outlet as consumers look to celebrities for style tips, and we as advertisers want to ensure were aligned with where our customer’s interests are.”

The relationship with Lauren Conrad has paid off handsomely for the retailer, leading to a redux for their spring line.

“It’s exciting to see just how wonderfully these campaigns have affected our strategy in ways we couldn’t have even forecasted,” said Brunty. “It’s especially exciting for me, because of the fact that I championed this project; it was very near and dear to me and was important to implement.”

Zappos had originally allocated budget toward a display buy, but Brunty tweaked tactics at the last minute to sanction off a portion of the budget to experiment with influencer marketing.

“It took some convincing to the rest of the team, but in the end, we are so happy with the results that we just completed our second campaign with Lauren Conrad. The results have been amazing,” said Brunty. “To speak to the success, buyers are informing me of sold out and low inventory SKUs which is always exciting to see after a campaign execution.”

It turns out that even other celebrities are not immune to celebrity influencer marketing.

“For me, personally, the biggest success story comes from Sarah Jessica Parker being so excited about her SJP Collection being featured in the blog post that she sent a note to Lauren personally,” said Brunty. “It doesn’t get any cooler than that!”

Pieces of the Pie

According to a recent study by Forrester Research, social media spending in the US is expected to reach $27.4 billion by 2020, up from $12.3 billion in 2015, growing at a five-year annual growth rate of 17.4%. The way marketers slice their pie is getting more and more complex, with more and more offerings – influencer marketing can check off a number of boxes for most brands.

While celebrity influencers are more expensive than a traditional influencer, they offer a greater megaphone that some brands are looking to use to amplify their reach.

“The key to influencer marketing is target audience reach. It wouldn’t make sense to use Lauren Conrad as a brand ambassador for beard wax, because that’s not where her target audience – those who turn to her for advice – lives,” said Reardon. “By the same token, you wouldn’t have the Duck Dynasty guys selling women’s shoes. The audience fit an influencer can offer is what is critical for brands.”

That’s not to say marketers should completely abandon all other marketing strategies to jump on the celebrity bandwagon.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say celebrity endorsements “rather than” any other form of marketing as much as “in addition to”,” said Brunty. “It’s hugely important to have a well rounded strategy and this form of marketing falls directly in line with what we are trying to accomplish with our social marketing strategy.”

Want to learn more about how celebrity influencer marketing can boost your next campaign? Contact Find Your Influence’s Relationship Manager Jordan Windle, and put the industry’s leading influencer marketing platform to work for you today!

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Guest Blog Post: Organizing The Influencer Marketing Landscape By Robert Brill

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By Robert Brill of Brill Media Consulting

The influencer marketing landscape is evolving fast, developing as a stand alone digital marketing practice outside of social media, native advertising and content marketing. Brands leverage the good will, fandom and reach of content creators and curators to endorse brands. Early entrants into the business, combined, are worth over $1B.

This is a complicated space with advertising agencies, PR companies, influencer specialist agencies, measurement companies, research businesses, individual creators and social media platforms working in compliment of each other to reach consumers.

To make sense of this ecosystem we assembled a view of the influencer marketing ecosystem.

 

REPRESENTATION

Not every company in every category is being represented. There are certainly significantly more ad agencies and PR agencies than we show. Across all categories we’ve chosen companies who we know participate in the influencer marketing business.

Some businesses belong in multiple categories. It’s not uncommon for companies to serve both influencers and advertisers, or to be both a research business and a connector to influencers. Some companies cultivate their own network of influencers while being agnostic and working with any available influencer in the marketplace.

 

 DEMAND VS SUPPLY

Influencer marketing is about people who create and curate great content. It’s artistic, creative and inspired work that only a select few people have the skill set to do well. We’re talking about artists for new media and new Hollywood.

Demand represents the groups who spend money to buy products; marketers and the agencies who serve marketers. Supply represents the providers of those products; companies who are aligned with the influencers’ interests, and the influencers themselves. Influencers supply the space, reach and good will that marketers are tapping into.

 

DISTRIBUTION

Certainly, a key part of this ecosystem is distribution from always on social channels. They give creators access to audience without having to rely on prohibitively expensive and difficult to access traditional media distribution methods.

 

STANDOUT COMPANY

FindYourInfluence - Double Sided Exchange

Advertisers get all the benefit of influencer marketing without the immense need to build infrastructure or sift through large pools of influencers. By already connecting to thousands of active and available influencers marketers get directly to the content strategy and activation strategy.  Once the managed or self service campaign is complete marketers pay FindYourInfluence, and they handle subsequent payments to influencers.

 

INFLUENCER MARKETING BACKGROUND

Just a few years ago nascent businesses like Maker Studios, Full Screen and Machinima were making waves as a new type of media company – multichannel networks, or MCNs. Today, these three companies are worth over $1B as a result of investment or buyout. Maker was bought by Disney for $500MM, with a kicker to $900MM if certain success thresholds are met. Machinima took investment from Warner Bros at a rumored $200MM valuation. Fullscreen was bought by Otter Media, which is a joint venture between AT&T and Chernin Group at $200MM – $300MM valuation.

These companies, and many like them (Omnia, Screenwave, Aweseomeness TV and Nerdist for example) continue to sell advertisers influencer campaigns. As reported by Business Insider the influencer ecosystem also gives Big Media (traditional media companies like broadcast networks, cable companies, cable operators and even digital first destinations) a competitive threat.

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Forbes Feature: FYI CEO Jamie Reardon

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With Influencer Marketing on the rise, brands are looking to how they can integrate the use of influencers into their preexisting and future marketing campaigns. While this may sound like a daunting task for some, our very own FYI CEO, Jamie Reardon, has stepped in and shared her thoughts on how this form of marketing can actually be very simple.

Read more of Jamie’s expert advice in this featured Forbes article, Five Strategies To Influence The Influencers.

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FYI + Peixoto Coffee Meetup

Yesterday evening we had the pleasure of hosting an influencer meetup at Peixoto Coffee in Chandler, Arizona. We partnered with the ladies of the Arizona Blogger Meetup Group and welcomed over 50 of their members for an evening of coffee, creme brûlée and networking.

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We were thrilled to also have a great lineup of speakers for the evening, including Julia, the owner of Peixoto Coffee, Camille of the blog Friday We’re In Love and Lyndsey, our very own Influencer Relationship Manager here at Find Your Influence.

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After everyone had gotten a drink and found a seat, we started the evening’s programming with an inspirational story from Julia about her dream of opening Peixoto Coffee and her goal of upholding her families legacy. Much of the coffee served at Peixoto is made with beans from Julia’s family farm in Brazil, in keeping with her passion of the crop to cop method. They roast their own beans in house, and also offer a variety of sweets throughout the week for a perfect pairing. Peixoto Coffee is a one-of-a-kind shop with baristas that always makes you feel like you’re at home, and is definitely a place to check out if you’re in the downtown Chandler area.FYIPeixotoEdit_b FYIPeixotoEdit_e FYIPeixotoEdit_h

Lyndsey welcomed the group next and shared all about Find Your Influence. She hit so many great points, including how we love getting to meet our influencers face-to-face, how we work with brands and how we pair influencers with for campaigns. The whole team at FYI is very passionate about what we do and it was great to see Lyndsey share her passion for Influencer Marketing with the group.

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Camille took the mic next and shared some tips and tricks for monetizing your blog. Camille herself has been very successful in this with her own blog, Friday We’re In Love, and had a lot of great expert advice to offer the group.

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Lyndsey and Camille wrapped up the evening with an informal Q&A session that led to a wonderful discussion on the ins and outs of monetization and working with Find Your Influence.

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We partnered with some amazing people for this event that deserve a big thank you for making this night happen, including Julia and the whole team at Peixoto Coffee for keeping the group well caffeinated fed, and also Camille and Amy of the Arizona Blogger Meetup Group for coming and bringing a great group of their members to spend the evening with us.

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To wrap things up, thank you so much to everyone who attended! We loved getting to connect with you all and hope that you’ll sign up and be a part of our network.

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