We sat down with Chicago based influencer, Jess Roe, aka The Windy City Mama to talk about why and when you can use influencers to best market your business.
Jess, you’ve been working as an influencer and blogger for a little while now and your following has grown to expect your honest opinions. What advice do you have for businesses looking to start working with influencers?
When it comes to Influencer Marketing, there are a lot of differing opinions on how to go about it. As both an influencer and an owner of a boutique social media agency, I have been able to see both sides of the relationship and feel like I have a relatively fool-proof approach on how to approach a content creator you are wanting to work with.
That’s brilliant that you can see it from both sides and I imagine it’s really helpful when working with brands. Do you have a top tip?
Yes, absolutely. My top tip would be don’t expect influencers to deliver massive amounts of content for free for you. If you approach a content creator in search of certain deliverables, you should never expect that they will just help you out of the goodness of their heart. This includes offering something of very low value in exchange for, really, any work. For example, I have had a business approach me and offer me something valued at $14 then continue to list over four deliverables, including a reel and rights to my content, in exchange. Doing this will make your content creators feel extremely undervalued. If you really don’t have a budget to pay, a solution I would recommend is offering your free products with no stipulation on deliverables. If the content creator is available, at their leisure, to try your product and likes it, they’ll likely share about it organically and that can sometimes have the best results.
Such great advice and comforting to know that if there really is no budget when you’re starting out, there is a way that you can still access influencer marketing. What would you advise when pitching to a content creator?
Make sure you don’t just talk about how it will benefit you. Partnerships and collaborations should be mutually beneficial. If a brand approaches me talking about themselves and how my content will benefit them but doesn’t even mention why they liked my content or what drew them to me, it usually doesn’t sit well or feel genuine. Other things to mention when approaching a content creator could also include benefits like how it can help a creator gain good exposure to a relative audience, the potential for a long term partnership, and additional networking opportunities.
Do you have things that you find really annoying when brands reach out?
Yes!! Some brands take no time to get to know me as an influencer or their audience. They don’t do any research on who I am as a content creator. Honestly, this is a huge pet peeve for a lot of content creators. Do NOT approach them and not know anything about them or even look at their page/blog. It happens ALL the time. I’ve had emails come in that say “I’m not sure if you work with brands, but…” or another example is brands wanting to send me things for my kids that are not appropriate for their ages in the slightest. If you take a moment to look at the blog or social media pages, you could easily get to know a content creator and know if your campaigns are a good fit overall. That effort goes a long way in my book.
At Your AJency, a huge part of our client success is that we develop relationships based on getting to know each other authentically and properly so that makes total sense. Developing a relationship with your influencer is always going to get you better results if they are passionate about what you’re offering too!
Ok so if an established business wants to launch a successful influencer marketing campaign, what would you suggest?
If you want to launch an influencer marketing campaign, try not to approach without a budget. While all content creators differ, and some will try to be flexible depending on a number of factors (size of your business, popularity of the brand, your budget, etc.), it’s ALWAYS best to approach content creators with a realistic budget. It shows both that you are a legitimate brand and that you value your creators! And when I say realistic, I mean doing the research to know what the content you’re asking for is actually valued at, not what you think it should be.
Also don’t have unrealistic expectations. Past having a realistic budget, there are other expectations to take into consideration. Remember, content creators are real people. For some, it’s a full-time job and some do it as a side gig. Content creators aren’t robots and cannot produce content at a moment’s notice or produce large amounts of content overnight. We also may not respond to an email immediately or be able to make any meeting time work just because it’s convenient for you. Go into a collaboration setting realistic expectations for your timeline so the creator can logically decide if they can achieve what you’re asking.
Just as you would set deadlines in your own business, if you’re realistic and communicate upfront then you are more likely to have a successful campaign. That’s great. Are there any reasons why you would choose to not work with a brand?
Yes. I do always make sure that I’m not pushing something that isn’t authentic for me.
This is SO important in my book— a brand can offer all the money in the world, but if it doesn’t feel right for one of you or your views don’t align— it is NOT worth it. You will tarnish the authenticity of your brand or the creator’s page. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes creators will say yes because this is, after all, a job, but if they say no for a reason other than the budget, don’t push it unless you’re willing to wholeheartedly adjust the campaign to align with your content creator. The authenticity of a good brand pairing will shine through in the right partnerships.
That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to research your influencers before approaching them! A right pairing will shine, as you say, and ultimately make for a much better collaboration and partnership.
Any last bits of advice, Jess?
Ultimately, you have to know a creator’s VALUE. I touched on this above, but it’s so important to know that content creators are valuable— their time, their talents— all valuable. I know that Influencer Marketing is relatively new to some, especially those not raised in the social media generations, but, as many like to put it, it’s not just “going to fun events or getting free stuff and posting about it.” Content creation is hard work and takes many different skill sets. Content creators can often be writers, photographers, copywriters, models, editors, and so, so much more. Approaching this as if it’s a cute little trivial job will turn a creator off from wanting to work with you and can definitely make them feel undervalued.
I know I’m not the end-all, be-all for Influencer Marketing, but if you keep these tips in mind when approaching a content creator to work with, I have no doubts that you’ll be more likely to have a successful and beneficial partnership and you’ll likely gain a continued supporter of your brand.
Thanks so much Jess. It’s been so great to hear advice from someone who has perspective from both sides as a content creator and owner of a boutique social media agency themselves!
Jess is a full-time blogger, entrepreneur & mama in Chicago. She is the creative behind thewindycitymama.com and owner of Windy City Mama Creative, a boutique social media agency – she also runs a coffee shop in the city! After studying English and Creative Writing in college she knew she wanted to pursue a creative career that included her loves of writing and social media. The inspiration behind her blog comes from her two daughters, Ivy & Isla. She loves sharing life as a young mother of two in a big city & hopes to inspire others with her journey. Some of her favourite blog partnerships have been with brands including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Broadway in Chicago, Ivy Shop (official online store of the Chicago Cubs), and countless local restaurants and small businesses. She’s also an Ambassador for the Chicago Explore Instagram page (@chicago.explore). Check out her blog and social media to follow along!