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Influencer marketing is no silver bullet for small business

Renewal of entrepreneurship

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

He was a little serious. An in-house counsel for a shipping company that has no clear interest in women’s fashion. Still, when we were sitting at the kitchen table talking about my new business, his ears stuck 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 your brand?” He asked.

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

One nugget from the Fame Hall of Fame is that many people will tell you to “find influencers.” This is usually offered in a solid tone as the only decision needed to sell the item and guarantee 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 alchemies are working, and their recommendations and megawatt smiles permeate our collective consciousness.

Access to A-list celebrities is out of 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 compared to last year. But how are brands, especially small businesses, pursuing this marketing strategy?

“You can see that there are hanging fruits,” says the owner. Steak shop, Online meat supplier. “After this, it gets harder. You have to keep scrutinizing the internet for the best creators. I don’t care too much about the number of subscribers. [rather the] Engagement and ratings [as] This is much more important and will help with the results. “

Steak Shop, a sister store to the award-winning restaurant Steak on the Green in western 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 slowly and gave meat fillets to content creators who constantly posted their YouTube videos of grilling steaks in the backyard. The results were immediate: increased traffic to their website and increased sales. The company is currently hiring a manager to focus on this marketing strategy.

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

“This is a great strategy for large brands that are profitable, have large inventories, and have multiple products,” said co-founder Tamara Short.

“They can offer influencers more attractive packages that small brands can’t buy,” she adds. “… Because it’s a number game, I’m against it from the beginning.”

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

That is where credibility is the key. Finding people who love what you are doing and will use your product regardless of whether they receive a reward.

In fact, for now, Blue Elvin has avoided short-term influencer partnerships in favor of building paid ambassador programs. This allowed them to find athletes who shared their values. “It’s far more goal-driven than the way we work,” says Short.

According to Short, if they re-explore 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. This is what I said before thanking my friend’s husband for advice. Must be run along with additional activities such as events and paid ads.

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

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