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Influencer Marketing: my guide to getting the ROI you want

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Influencer Marketing is still kind of the new kid on the block when it comes to advertising. Your company can pay a social media “influencer” or blogger (like me!) to promote their brand or location for you. As a consumer, I get most of my inspiration from an online platform. For decorating inspiration I typically head to Pinterest (which really leads you to blogs), and I usually discover restaurants or local stores I want to go try from Instagram. Based on my own habits as a consumer and also as a store owner myself, I can tell you I’m very confident that Influencer Marketing “works”! The real question is how can you make sure it is going to work before you allocate some of your budget to this outlet. Here are a few common questions I hear about this topic, along with some of the advice I usually give before partnering with a brand to help make our collaboration as successful as possible!

What guarantee do I have that working with an influencer will work?

Short answer: just like with any form of traditional marketing, there are never guarantees about sales or visits to your website.

You can’t put an ad in a magazine and guarantee you’ll sell out of your website inventory, right? The biggest benefit of most forms of marketing is reach/circulation/brand awareness. Just like circulation is the number you would focus on before deciding to advertise in a magazine, and viewership is what you would care about before paying to go on a local TV segment, I think the biggest guarantee with Instagram promotion is the reach per post. 20,000 followers doesn’t mean that many people see all of my posts. An Instagram post for me can get anywhere from 3k-over 20k unique views for an Instagram post and 1-2k views for Instagram stories. The average unique reach of my last 10 Instagram posts is 6,300.

Another “guarantee” with Influencer Marketing is often that you will get professional photos for your own social media use. Hiring a professional photographer is usually anywhere from $150 for about 30 minutes to possibly thousands of dollars for a full editorial shoot, so it’s a great added value to get that high quality content for your brand.

Ok, so there are no guarantees, but how do I make sure I get the best possible return?

  • Give a discount. Offer a unique discount code for the blogger so you can track how many sales they brought to the table (I recommend at least 20% off with a short term expiration date).

  • Repetition. From selling my own products on my platform as well as promoting other brands, I can say the most success comes with repetition. When I’ve done a series of 3 posts instead of a one off, that’s when companies tell me they see the most sales. I’ve noticed the same when I’ve promoted a new product or one of my workshops the 2nd or 3rd time.

  • Find the right influencer fit. Do not be blinded by shiny objects like follower count! Sure, hiring Kim Kardashian to post for you (for about a quarter million dollars btw) could help you get Internet Famous. Well, what if you are a Charleston based restaurant? You might actually see more real customers come through your doors if you team up with someone who instead has mostly Charleston followers. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you find an influencer who: is in the same location as you or the same genre. A beauty blogger will probably get more people into your spa than a food blogger, and if you have a store/restaurant/physical location you need to find someone with the majority of their followers also in that area. The only exception I can think of is when it comes to hotels/lodging, because anyone from anywhere could want to travel based on a blogger recommendation. Personally, I’ve added several places to my own bucket list after being introduced to them by gals like Hot Pink Pineapples and Palm Beach Lately! Also make sure you like their: captions, aesthetic, content, personality, etc.

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Be Your Own Influencer First!

Sometime sales are not your main marketing goal; perhaps you are hoping to get a boost in your own Instagram followers. If that’s the case, this simply isn’t going to happen if your Instagram isn’t pretty awesome! Therefore, I’ll often encourage brands to invest in my Instagram Growth Workshop instead of hiring me to promote them. I want them to get follower growth if that is their goal, but when someone clicks over to their page it has to good at first glance in order for someone want to follow along. Someone will decide in a few seconds if they want to follow, largely baed on the overall aesthetic and content you have to offer.

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Is Influencer Marketing Better Than “Traditional” Marketing?

I am certainly not trying to knock print advertising, advertising on TV, etc.! I have a local TV segment, so I am confident that is effective, and the times our store has been featured in local magazines we have always seen new customers. I certainly appreciate and welcome any and all press for our brick and mortar store! However, there are a couple of reasons we’ve chosen to primarily utilize our marketing budget for influencer marketing. 1) Influencers have brought us new Instagram followers that are now ours to “keep” and continue to see what we’re doing over and over. 2) As I mentioned before, photography is expensive! We only invest in about 1 photo shoot a quarter, so teaming up with bloggers usually means we get access to new content to share on our social accounts in the interim.

Let’s recap! When it comes to influencer marketing, it’s super important that you:

-know your goals

-find the right influencer for your brand

-set yourself up for success by having a way to measure your ROI or ask for the stats after the campaign is finished

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Also, don’t be afraid to ask for more info up front. It’s perfectly fine to request a screenshot of their follower demographic, or ask to hear about their previous campaigns. As a business owner, I have invested in influencers by gifting product to bloggers. Sometimes it brought me sales and other times it didn’t, but I always made sure I got something out of it. If you’re like me, you may not have a large advertising budget to work with. I really want you to get the most bang for your buck, so always feel free to DM me at @CharlestonWeekender or email me (CharlestonWeekender@Gmail.com) if you have any other questions about all of this!

all images by Elizabeth Burgi Photography

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Getting Press for Your Brand: Top Tips From a Celebrity Publicist

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I hope you're enjoying my guest bloggers as much as I am! We are all in this entrepreneur game together, my friends.  Catch my last post for a convo straight from the folks at Instagram, but first read on to hear from a fabulous publicist and influencer, Molly Schoneveld!  We recently met up in LA so Molly could share her tips on getting published.  
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Molly is the president of SW PR Shop, a boutique entertainment and lifestyle public relations firm formed in 2008. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, she specializes in entertainment talent as well as luxury lifestyle brands. The same year she started her business, she launched her lifestyle blog called This Yuppie Life, which has given her a unique perspective on the influencer space. 
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Liz: In terms of crafting a pitch, whether it be to ask a media outlet to be published or to secure a brand partnership for your blog, what are some of your main recommendations? 

Molly:

DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Know something about who you are pitching. If it’s a media outlet, read multiple stories especially from whomever you are pitching and try to make reference to something specific so they know you’ve done your homework. If it’s a brand, pay attention to what types of partnerships they have done and actually use the product before you pitch. You want to be able to truthfully say that you are a fan of the brand and have used their product or service.

KEEP IT SHORT, YET IMPACTFUL. This is the challenge of pitching. You have a lot to say, but about 1-2 short paragraphs in which to say it! Edit down your pitch so that you get your main ask within the first few sentences.

YOUR PHOTOS MATTER.  When pitching, only embed one low res image within the email and then send a Dropbox link with the rest. Nobody likes having their email inbox clogged up.

IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE BOTTOM LINE!  I say this a lot, but you have to remember this is a business. Whether you are pitching yourself to the media or to a brand, you have to know what you bring to the table and tell them how you can add value. If it’s media, it might be beautiful, free images and a story you know will resonate with their readers. If it’s a brand, you will need to share analytics or better yet, a case study that shows that by working with you they will get something valuable.

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Liz: Do you recommend that bloggers reach out to brands directly or should they reach out to PR agencies when they want to work with a company?

Molly: I recommend both. PR agencies are great because they represent multiple brands, and often times have a lot of control over who the brand works with. Offer to take the publicist to lunch or see if you can go into their office for a quick meet/greet. Face time goes a long way. A lot of brands have an in house team that oversees partnerships. I utilize Linkedin a lot to find the right contact.

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Liz: Can you share how a blogger or brand can go about using HARO (Helpareporter.com) to get more press features? 

Molly: HARO is a tool that is completely free—all you have to do is subscribe. Three times a day, a list is emailed with inquiries from reporters looking for sources for specific stories. The key with HARO is to only pitch yourself when there is a perfect fit. Don’t try to stretch to fit a mold that just isn’t you. These reporters get lots of responses, so make sure you really read the inquiry and follow the rules exactly, otherwise you risk annoying the reporter.

Liz: Besides HARO, how can you go about getting yourself press such as magazine coverage or a guest podcast feature?

Molly: At least 90% of my business is about building relationships. If you own a local boutique, for example, you need to start meeting freelance writers who write for your local media and/or editors at those outlets. Look to see what press other boutiques have gotten in your area and start making a list. The media likes new and they like “newsy”—meaning you will have better luck pitching yourself as a brand if you are either brand new OR you have something new to report. I have had great luck pitching myself first to people I have a prior relationship with and also providing free professional images.

Podcasts are really the hot place to be right now because they are so niche. Even if a podcast doesn’t have a huge audience, you can know for certain that those that tune in care about the topic. Personally, I only pitch myself/company to people that I have a relationship with and that I know cover people like me. 

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Liz: A lot of bloggers & small businesses don't have a budget to work with a PR team on a recurrent basis, so are there other ways to form a mutually beneficial relationship with a publicist?

Molly: The reason having a publicist is such a large investment (and the reason I have a career) is that pitching media is incredibly time consuming.  It takes thoughtful research and a lot of outreach that can go unanswered. I hear all the time (and I totally agree!) that it is SO hard and sometimes awkward to pitch youself. I offer a consulting package that is way less than hiring my firm on retainer. I have worked with bloggers and business owners on getting their materials in order, crafting a pitch, brainstorming ideas and oulets. Finding a consultant who can be your cheerleader and someone to bounce ideas off of can be a less expensive way to get PR help. I essentially tell you what to do and then you go do it!

I also wrote a whole blog post on 9 free ways to promote your business, so for more tips check it out: https://www.thisyuppielife.com/2017/11/13/9-free-ways-to-promote-your-business/

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WOW!  I can't wait to implement some of Molly's awesome strategies!  If you know you're one of those people that's terrible at pitching yourself, check out her website for more info on her PR consulting.  If you want to give it a try to put yourself out there more, make sure you read my "Secrets to a Better Pitch for Bloggers" post (which has a template for crafting a better pitch).  If you found this as helpful as I did, please share on Pinterest!

images c/o Lish Creative

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My Secrets to a Better Pitch for Bloggers

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Sometimes I forget that the things I finally have figured out are the things that a lot of other people are out there still wondering about!  I am always turning to Pinterest & other blogs to help me with all my questions about entrepreneurship, blogging, Instagram, etc., so I'm going to try to start sharing more (hopefully helpful) info with you!  I just ask that you'll share in your Instastories or on Pinterest if you find this to be useful.  It also helps me when you click on the affiliate links I've included (I earn a small commission from them). Thanks, friends!

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Ok, so do you just KNOW you have an awesome blog and a great reach and feel like you would make an ideal partner for some of the brands you love?  I bet you're right!  You have a solid Instagram following, consistent monthly blog traffic, and/or you are able to provide some fabulous professional photo content to the brands you work with!  

Well guess what?  If you don't entice someone with a great pitch email, then they might never even make it to your Instagram account to see how wonderful you are!  I was looking back at some of my old pitches recently, and realized I had been doing it ALL WRONG.  Here are a few of the mistakes I had been making with those emails:

-Lack of a compelling subject line (PR agencies and media outlets get so bombarded, so make sure your subject is enticing!  Sometimes these subject lines are used as search engines at a later time, so the next time someone wants to work with a Charleston blogger they might be more inclined to be able to find you again if you give more info in your subject line)

-Too vague (i.e. "I would love to collaborate". Get more specific about what you're asking for and offering.)

-Not enough of the info they are looking for (I don't know if everyone takes the time to read your media kit, so putting a brief snippet of your analytics & pricing is a good idea)

-Too lengthy (make sure you offer a specific plan and request, but get to the point in a short and sweet email)

-Too open-ended (you have to give someone a reason to take immediate action from your email.  I offer a deadline to create a sense of urgency for them to reply to me sooner.)

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Here is a basic template to try the next time you're crafting an email to a brand you'd like to work with.  Remember to make it your own; if you copy this word for word, it won't sound enough like you!  Change it up a little to suit your own brand and style.

Dear (Awesome Brand),
I have a bright and colorful blog & Instagram called Charleston Weekender, and I would love to include your (shoes, clothes, location) in an upcoming project I have lined up.  I'll be working with (name of photographer with link to another project you have done with them) for a blog feature about (a certain event or concept, i.e. a local event like "Charleston Fashion Week" or maybe "5 Handbags I'm Loving Lately").
I have a current reach of (# of followers and typical unique views per post), and I have rates starting at ($___. Let them know if you're requesting product instead of payment, most brands prefer that).   My media kit is attached if you would like to see all of my offerings and examples of some of my successful partnerships.
I'll need to have participants lined up for this project by (deadline date), so please let me know if you're interested as soon as possible.  I'm happy to provide further examples or answer any additional questions you might have.  (Insert genuine compliment here. For example, "I am just loving your new duffel bags this season, and I am very excited to share them with my followers!")
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Guess what?  This gets brands to respond every time...NOT!  I still get flat out ignored all the time and get my fair share of nos.  However, I'm getting far more responses than ever before and a good amount of yeses!  By the way, the backstory of these photos with the orange bag is that I recently pitched Land's End via multiple emails to their PR team to work with them to share their new collection.  I've yet to hear back, so I bought this orange Land's End duffel bag anyway!  Can't win 'em all.


Soon I'll be sharing some better strategies for pitching your brand/products to magazines.  Make sure you check out the "Social Media University" section of my site so you don't miss out as I add a lot of free resources this year!

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-Shop This Post-

Duffel Bag // Cactus Print Embroidered Shirt // Rifle Paper Co. Shoes (sold out, but here is a similar platform from Keds) // CHS hat

photography by LISH Creative

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