Binary Botanical
Lemon, pistachio and basil pesto mafaldine perfectly paired with a bottle of Binary Botanical.

How to nail influencer marketing (without paying a fortune)

Ahhh *sighs* influencer marketing… like Marmite, it’s either loved and used on everything, or avoided like the plague. At Hexe Digital, we’ve found that the clients who aren’t too fond of it as a tool in their marketing mix have a negative association with how much influencer marketing costs. If done correctly though, you can really nail influencer marketing, without it costing a fortune.

Here are our top tips for running an influencer marketing campaign on a budget.  

  • Make it appealing for them

If you’re familiar with PR, you’ll know that selling an idea to someone means it has to be appealing to them, something they want to talk about, not too brand heavy and most importantly – relevant.

Influencer marketing is pretty much the same. If you haven’t done your homework on the person you’re approaching you may end up pitching a product that doesn’t fit their audience at all. A fashion influencer probs isn’t going to want to post about your newly launched kids toy brand. 

  • See them as content creators, not just influencers

Good influencers post great content. They put time and effort into the posts they plan. You can even ask them to send that content to you to reshare on the brand account (tagging and crediting them too of course).

If you can convince the brand to think of the fee they might have to pay the creator as similar to that which you’d pay a photographer, it makes it more justifiable. Many foodie influencers will also work to create recipes for you too. For example, we worked with the LOVELY Alys Hardy on a recipe for Binary Botanical, who make the most delicious beer for wine-lovers (shameless plug, I know!)

She created a recipe for lemon, pistachio and basil pesto mafaldine which paired perfectly with a bottle of Binary. We were then able to use the recipe as a blog, post the image on instagram and reap the benefits of Alys sharing it with her followers. And just look at that photo – don’t you just want to grab a fork and dive in!

Binary Botanical

Lemon, pistachio and basil pesto mafaldine perfectly paired with a bottle of Binary Botanical.

© Alys Hardy 

  • Build an authentic relationship with them

“One of my pet peeves,” states Cristy Nottingham, fashion and lifestyle influencer and social media exec at Hexe Digital, “ is when brands (or worse, agencies) message you of the blue, boasting about how much they “love your content”, yet they aren’t following you and have never liked a single post!

“My advice to brands is to build a relationship with people you want to connect with before you reach out. You wouldn’t ask someone on the street for a date before getting to know them, would you? Having been on both sides; a content creator and agency side recruiting influencers for the campaigns we work on, I can tell you, it’ll really pay off.”

The other thing to keep in mind is that social media is a two way thing. You have to engage in the conversations, as well as create them, to build community. This is particularly important when it comes to the influential people within your target audience. You want them to be part of the conversation, to look out for the posts you share so they become more than just someone you send products to every now and then; they become true brand advocates.

  • Offer incentives to get them to share more

Money can be a really effective tool for content creators and influencers who, especially if you’re talking macro-influencer, will rely on this as their main source of income. However, if you’re a small brand or start-up, £1,000 a post may not be affordable for you, but there are other ways to offer remuneration such as setting up an affiliate scheme or offering discount codes to their followers.

Whilst the latter is easier to do, simply setting up a bespoke code such as their handle with the amount at the end Eg ANYAC0NDA25 that they can put in their bio on instagram and share in any stories or posts that they share is a quick win.

Affiliate schemes take a bit more development on the technical side, but there is software out there that can help. Tools such as Impact or Tradedoubler can help with this, offering everything from recruiting the right influencers to automating payouts. It’s worth checking them out to help simplify the process.

  • Be human!

The age old adage the people buy from people stands true when it comes to influencer marketing. Both from the perspective that your audience will see them as a trusted source and, when reaching out to the researched influencers, they’ll appreciate you being human too. Don’t approach them with a set script, make it bespoke. Be friendly. Talk to them as you, not as your brand.

  • Check for management

When influencers do get to a certain size, it’s almost inevitable that they’ll require third party help to manage their relationships with brands and help continue to grow their social presence. The downside for us is that it comes with a cost. Check their bio for a management contact – if there isn’t an email address to reach out to, you may be able to DM directly. 

Smaller, more attainable influencers can also be really effective. Followers and like are just vanity metrics after all. It’s better to target 10 influencers under 5K followers with a high engagement rate, who you can converse directly with, rather than holding your hopes out for one big account that may help you go viral.

  • Use it as part of a campaign

This sort of comes back to Point 1 about making it appealing for those you contact. Rather than just reaching out randomly with no real incentive, try tying it in with a campaign, a product launch or something else happening that influencers will want to get involved with. Remember that their followers will often rely on following them to stay up to date with trends or find out about the coolest restaurants in town. Use that to your advantage.

If working with a new brand, invite influencers to an exclusive launch event. If you have a product launching, let them try it before anyone else. We managed the launch of a coffee shop, invited influencers down on the day of opening and created a queue down the street to get in. The imagery shot from that was then shared on social media, making the place look really in demand. This, combined with the reach from the influencers meant lots of bookings for the new venue. Simples really, but  very effective!

Here’s an example of an influencer campaign with a newly launched dim sum brand, this post had enormous reach and great engagement from someone with over 400K followers combined on Instagram and TikTok.

Hexe Digital

So, in summary:

  • Make your offer appealing – give them something they will want to shout about.
  • See them as content creators, not just influencers – utilise the content they create for your own account as well as just utilising the reach.
  • Build an authentic relationship – rapport is everything. Make sure you gain their trust.
  • Offer incentives to get them to share more – big cash outlays may be unrealistic but find other ways to incentivise influencers to share your brand.
  • Be human! – Talk to them as you would any other person. They’ll appreciate your honesty.
  • Check for management – direct relationships will be easier to manage.
  • Use it as part of a campaign – find a way to use creators that offers the best benefit for the brand and the influencer.

Hopefully, by applying the tactics above, you’ll be able to convince those Marmite haters that, when used correctly, influencers can do wonders for your brand awareness and sales!

If you need any more advice, just drop us a line.


Do you have an article to share? Get in touch with us at Women in Agencies and submit your blog!

Beth Hellowell
Founder of Women in Agencies and co-founder of Signify Digital. Mother, social media scroller and frequent pasta eater.