Episode 199

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Influencer marketing isn’t new. Remember Joe Namath in pantyhose? (If you don’t Google it)

But what is new is that anyone can harness the power of the internet and attract and monetize an audience. The value to our clients in that new twist is that there is an influencer for any subject, budget, or audience.

This is an area where many agencies are crushing their financial goals. But if done wrong – you can lose your shirt. That’s why I knew we needed to talk to Shane Barker.

Getting to the tactical heart of effective and profitable influencer marketing is what episode #199 is all about. My guest is Shane Barker, who has been doing influencer marketing since before the term was even coined. We talk about finding the right person, the proverbial needle in the influencer haystack, and how to determine the real reach of that individual who calls him/herself an influencer.

Maybe you or your clients are still questioning the ROI of influencer marketing. Shane and I discuss how to do it right from start to finish, so you and your clients get the most bang for your influencer buck.

From working with agencies and brands on influencer strategy and with celebrities on digital reputation management, to obtaining a #1 national ranking with PROskore as a social media consultant, Shane has built an impressive list of accomplishments. As a regular contributor to publications like Salesforce, Yahoo Small Business, Marketing Profs and others, he continues to grow and share his knowledge.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How to vet influencers so you and clients get what you pay for
  • Why you should interview influencers to find the right fit beyond the metrics
  • How to A/B test in influencer marketing
  • What goes into developing a solid influencer marketing strategy
  • How to be the best choice for the influencers you want to work with
  • Developing Scope of Work terms with an influencer
  • The best tools to use to start your influencer search
  • How to fine-tune your influencer search with the “eyeball test”
“One of the biggest problems with influencer marketing is when agencies and brands look only at follower count.” – @shane_barker Click To Tweet “It's nice to have that belly-to-belly conversation with an influencer. Because most brands don't do that. They don't develop that deeper relationship.” – @shane_barker Click To Tweet “When hiring an influencer, most brands follow this path: look at follower count, send them some free product, and then hope that magic happens. There are about 500 steps in between.” – @shane_barker Click To Tweet “When I start working with a brand on an influencer campaign, I ask qualifying questions. What are their expectations? And are they realistic? As always, communication is key.” – @shane_barker Click To Tweet “The information-gathering tools available are phenomenal. They curate information and you can filter down to find exactly the kind of influencer you are looking for.” – @shane_barker Click To Tweet

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Ways to Contact Shane Barker:

Speaker 1:

Are you tired of feeling like the lonely light housekeeper as you run your agency, welcome to the Agency Management Institute Community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talents, make more money and keep more of what you make. The Build a Better Agency podcast is now in our third year of sharing insights and how small to midsize agencies survive and thrive in today’s market. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody Drew McLellan, here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. Thanks for coming back if you are a regular listener and welcome if this is your first foray into the podcast. I’m glad to have you. Before I tell you a little bit about this week’s guest and the topic, which I think you’re going to find fascinating. I want to just give you a big heads up. So, hopefully, a lot of you are on our weekly newsletter list, or we are connected on social somewhere, whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, wherever it may be. And so, hopefully in some venue where we communicate, you have seen that we have announced AMI is going to start an annual conference for small to mid-sized agencies. There is no conference out there really for true small to mid-sized agency. I’m talking agencies that have 4 people or 8 people or 10 people or 50 people, or even 100 people.

That’s a big agency at least in the U.S., and the U.S. the average agency has 8 people. And so, there’s really no conference for us, and there’s no conference about how we run our business better. And so, AMI, after several years of thinking about it and planning for it, we are stepping out into the conference space and we are launching our inaugural conference. The inaugural Build a Better Agency summit will be in May 19th and 20th in Chicago… 19th and 20th, 2020. So, depending on when you’re listening to this, I don’t want you to get confused. Anyway, it’s going to be a great two days, and we have some amazing speakers who are going to talk to you about how they built their agency, how they sold their agency, all the different revenue streams that they get from their agency.

We’re going to talk about exit strategies. We’re going to talk about valuations for your agency. We’re going to talk about finding a buyer or being a buyer of an agency, if that’s part of your growth strategy, all kinds of topics. If you want to know more about the conference, head over to agencymanagementinstitute.com and up in the main nav, you’re going to see BABA or Build a Better Agency Summit. Click on that link and you can start looking at who the keynote speakers are. And you’re going to recognize all the names. There are amazing speakers who are talking about things that they have never publicly talked about before. That is, money and selling their business and revenue streams and all kinds of other things. So, head over there and check it out. A couple things to note, if you’re listening to this in real time, so if it’s July or August of 2019, you are in a great spot because we are still in launch price mode.

So, this is as inexpensive as the conference is going to get. So, grab a ticket now, while you can and that way you’re all locked in. The other thing you need to know is we have a finite number of seats. So, we are going to be capped at a few hundred attendees. And once we get to that cap, I can’t sell any more tickets. We don’t have room in the venue. So, grab them early, bring your leadership team. There’s discounts for multiple people coming. And again, I’m super excited about the content. I think we are just going to be learning. And as always at AMI, we’re going to be learning. We’re going to be laughing. It’s going to be a little bit of therapy.

It’s going to be some support. It’s going to be exploration and innovation. All of those things, all wrapped in two days. Oh, and we’re going to be drinking and throwing darts. So, really what more could we pack into the two days? I hope you can join us in Chicago. I know it seems super far away, but actually it’s not. So, grab your ticket, lock yourself in and plan on being in Chicago in May of 2020. A couple of other housekeeping notes. We have some amazing workshops coming up in the fall and winter. So, you’re going to want to check those out on the website as well. I’ll tell you more about those in the episodes to come, but you might want to check those out before they sell out. And as always, if you are going to leave a rating and review for the podcast, please make sure you take a screenshot and you send it to me at [email protected] so that we can put you in a drawing for either a seat in one of our live workshops or in our on-demand courses.

So, those all retail out at around 1800 bucks. So, we’re happy to give that away. We give one away every month and I would love for you to be a winner. So, remember, we can’t enter you in the drawing if we don’t have the screenshot, because in many cases, your screen name doesn’t tell me really who you are. And it certainly doesn’t give me your email address. So, if you would do that, that would be lovely. All right, enough announcements. Let me get to the episode. So, in today’s world, there is not an agency on the planet that is not thinking about, talking about delivering… Considering delivering influencer marketing. And we know that it is not only a trend in our industry, but a really effective marketing strategy. And it’s not new. We’re just calling it something new but it’s been around forever, but some statistics have just come out that I think are really interesting.

So, Edelman, the global agency Edelman for, I don’t know, over 20 years, I think, has put out an annual report that they call the Trust Barometer. And what it does is it gathers data about… Influencers is a new category, but it asks the participants in the research who they trust, what they trust and where they place their trust. And in this year, in the 2019 report, they also added some really interesting questions about influencer marketing and how trustworthy that is and the details and the results are fascinating. So, I’m going to suggest that you download it. And if you actually go to the Agency Management Institute website, and if you search in the search bar for Edelman Trust Barometer, you’re going to find a blog post where I posted all of those reports because they’re free downloads. So, they had executive summary, the whole data, and then also, a look at some very drilled down specifics in the US.

But they’ve talked to over 33,000 people. And so, certainly a huge set. 27 countries participated. And some of the things that I think are most interesting around what they learned from that study is all related to influencer marketing, for example, the people that we as consumers trust the most are people like us. So, we are more and more skeptical of paid advertising, even though we know influencers are paid, for some reason, because they look like us and they are interested in the same things that we are. We feel a kinship with them, and we trust them more than any other category. We find a person who is like me to be either credible or very credible. And we see that in ratings and reviews and other places as well, but it’s also in influencer marketing.

The other thing that I thought was really interesting about this specific influencer data is that people are getting smarter about influencers. And so, it’s not about how many people you have following you. It’s not about how big of a celebrity you are. It’s really about how relatable are you. So, if I feel like you’re more of a real person and I can relate to you, my trust is higher in you than it is with somebody with 50 million followers who I see as a popular influencer, but I have no connection to. And the other part that I thought was really interesting because I’m nagging at you all the time to niche, niche, niche, and narrow down and be a subject matter expert. One of the things that I found heartening was even more than how much the respondents trusted people like them are the trust that they put in subject matter experts.

So, again, if you can take that authority position of the category or the audience or the problem you solve, whatever that is, go back and listen to my solo cast about positioning and niching, but understand that, that, by its very default, makes you trustworthy and more trustworthy means easier to sell, quicker to sell and all of those things. So, influencer marketing’s not going away. If anything, its power and its influence is growing as the marketplace gets more skeptical and more crowded. And so, that’s why I wanted to have this week’s guest on the show.

So, Shane Barker has been a digital marketer for a long time, but he has been dabbling in and then really perfecting the art of influencer marketing for much longer than the term has actually even been coined. He teaches courses about it at the college level, he’s putting together some online courses. And so, what I really want to do in this episode is I really want to pick his brain about how we as agencies are doing influencer marketing well and where we need to improve to really be able to deliver the results that our clients are looking for. So, with that, let’s just jump into the conversation and go. Shane, welcome to the podcast. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the conversation. Shane, welcome to the podcast.

Shane Barker:

Hey drew, thanks for having me, man. I’m excited about the interview today.

Drew McLellan:

Why don’t you tell the listeners how you came to have an expertise in influencer marketing, and then we’re going to spend some time… I know that a lot of times you either get clients or talk to clients who have had less than stellar results when they’ve worked with agencies. So, I want to talk about some of the mistakes agencies make and how they can fix those mistakes, but first give us a little bit of background.

Shane Barker:

Yeah. So, I’ve been in the digital space… I don’t want to say the true number because it’s been a crazy amount of time. It’s been almost 25 years at this point that I’ve been in the digital space. And then influencer marketing kind of found me, probably about seven or eight years ago. I had a client [inaudible 00:10:58] at client that time but they reached out to me and said, “Hey, we need some social media marketing.” And she was a fitness influencer on Instagram. And then I said, “Okay.” So, I was kind of looking at her stuff and she was selling fitness programs and I really couldn’t imagine myself doing anything that had to do with fitness because it was a pretty saturated industry, you know, push up was a push-up. At that point, I wasn’t too interested in it.

But I said, “Well, let’s just do a call and see what you’ve got going on.” And so, I jumped on a call with her. She had three programs, one of them was called Get a Better Booty. So, I think we understand the premise of what that program was. I don’t need give heavy detail into that one. And her thing was that she used to be a runner, so she really didn’t have any crazy body. And then she quit running and she started doing the squats and all this other fun stuff. And everybody saw that transition from no booty to big booty. And so, all the girls love those before and after pictures, “Hey, that’s me today. This is me potentially if I do Zoe’s program.” And so, I just was this call with her and she said, “My best program is Build a Better Booty and I’ve sold like… She goes, “Maybe 10,000 copies.” And she really wasn’t that impressed with that.

It’s just maybe like 10,000. And I’m like, “10,000 times $20.” I’m like, “That’s $200,000.” And I’m like, “Well, what about your sexy legs?” And she goes, “Yeah, that one’s even worse, it’s only 5,000.” And I’m like, “Times $20. That’s another a hundred thousand.” And then I go, “What about your sexy arms?” And she goes, “Yeah, that one’s like maybe 5,000 as well.” So, I’m like, “This girl is 22 years old making $400,000 a year and she’s blowing it off like I’m doing okay. Like I can afford to pay rent this month.” And I’m like, “She’s like making 30 plus thousand dollars a month by herself.” She was producing all of her own content. She had a few people helping with the website and stuff. And I just said… Honestly, I didn’t believe it at first.

I was like, “Okay, I need to look into this a little bit because this feels like a little fishy.” Like I had lead magnets on my website. I couldn’t even get a free email address or a name for that sake. Because, yes, she can’t keep these things off the shelves, they’re like selling out. I mean, they are [inaudible 00:12:50], so they’re not really selling out, but the idea is that she [crosstalk 00:12:52]. So, to me, it blew me away. So, I just said, “Okay, I’ve got to look into this thing.” And it was all influencer marketing. We had started selling [inaudible 00:12:59] before as even [inaudible 00:13:00] influencer marketing, we were just finding fitness influencers that would be willing to either take her program or talk about Zoe’s success before with her before and after pictures.

And we just did tons of different stuff. We spent probably $400,000 not even do an ad platform, I was paying everybody through PayPal. There was negotiations. We didn’t have a software to go look people up. We were using this thing called an Excel spreadsheet in case your audience knows what that is. It’s really old school, but we used it. So, there was all this stuff that we did just, once again, to negotiate with influencers and build this thing out. We tried to do SEO. We tried to do PPC. We tried all these different things and 99% of our business was sold through Instagram. And so, we redid our website. We redid her lead magnets, we redid her programs or logo like we redid everything.

Revamped, and we got her to about 1.4 million in less than a year. So, she was clearing… No, 1.6 million, excuse me. She was clearing a million dollars herself in a year’s time selling fitness influencer eBooks on Instagram. So, that’s how I jumped into space. And ever since then, it just has taken off. I teach at UCLA. I have a personal brand in How to Be an Influencer course that I teach there, every quarter. And it’s just kind of catapulted itself to where we’re at today.

Drew McLellan:

So, for you, for the most part is your work working with the actual influencer on how to be a good partner to a brand or to an agency and their client, the brand, you come at it from that perspective, right?

Shane Barker:

Actually, I come from both perspectives. So, the class that UCLA is actually a two part course, one is for influencers, how to work with brands. And the other one is for brands, how to work with influencers. So, these days, I spend a lot of time on education. Like, I just did a workshop at the Influencer Marketing Conference & Expo in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. It’s about a three hour workshop. And what I did is that was mainly for brands, how to work with influencers. And so, I do personal training for brands.

So, brands can either bring me into their office or I can [inaudible 00:14:59] agencies as well. So, “Hey, listen, these are the campaigns that we’ve done. What are we doing wrong? How can we improve these things?” And then I have a course that’s coming out on howtobeaninfluencer.com that actually we teach influencers, once again, how to get a website set up, how to get their media kit set up, how to get all this stuff together so that when you go to pitch Nike, you’re not [email protected] because they’re probably not going to respond to that. It’s like just your own personal brand. So, I do both sides of it. So, it’s kind of interesting.

Drew McLellan:

So, one of the things that’s interesting to me about influencer marketing, which of course has been around forever. It just has a new label to it and now it’s got new technology around it. So, it’s used in a lot of ways. I remember Joe Namath pushing legs, pantyhose early, early influencer marketing. So, one of the things I worry about on behalf of my own agency and all the agencies out there is there are so many people claiming to be an influencer, how do I vet influencers properly? And how do I know that they are what they say they are and that they can deliver what they’re promising for the partnership [inaudible 00:16:15]

Shane Barker:

Yeah. The biggest thing is that really influencers it’s kind of funny. So, like the actual word influencer and influencer marketing is actually now in the dictionary. So, I don’t know if that makes it official.

Drew McLellan:

It’s official.

Shane Barker:

Yeah. I mean, I’m assuming at that point, then somebody believes it. Some of the higher ups when it comes to the dictionaries, believe it. So, the thing is influence is different for different people. What I mean by that is that originally it was, what is your follower count? So, if you had 50,000 or 100,000 people on Instagram, then you’re an influencer. It was a number thing. And for me, one of the biggest problems with agencies and with brands as well it’s they look at those numbers. That’s one of the variables that you look at is like their follower count.

It shouldn’t be the number one thing that you look at. And they were also paying based on the follower count, which is another issue. Because then you jump into influencers getting fake followers because they want to make it to the next tier pricing. You’re saying, “Hey, if get to this, I’ll give you 5,000. But if you get up to this, I’ll give you 15.” What are you going to do? You’ll be like, “Well, how do I get to 50,000? Well, I’ve got to accelerate this thing.” It took me a year to get to this point and it can take me three months to get to the next level and then there we go. So, if brands and agencies will look at numbers as just a variable, what you really need to look at is like the overall engagement and the sediment of the influencer’s profile. So, what it comes down to the other big question that we always get is like, what do I pay an influencer?

So, what you have to think about is, you look at the influencer’s profile, it looks like there’s some good engagement. I’ll give you the example, I always use like a yoga mat, let say. And so, you’re a brand, you sell this yoga mat and you want to work with a yoga influencer. You go to their profile, you see all kinds of yoga stuff. He or she does every morning. They have a good following. They’re getting whatever the amount of likes per picture. You see some good engagement, “Hey, Jennifer, it looks awesome that you’re doing your yoga,” blah, blah, blah. “But I’ve noticed your outfit. And I was wondering, where did you pick that up at? Or where did you get that from? Or I saw that you were doing on this new yoga mat. It looks a lot thicker. Is there a reason why you’re using the thicker yoga mat?”

Like people are engaging with the conversation and you want the influencer to engage back. “Hey Michelle, once again, thank you so much for reaching out. Yeah. This new yoga mat we found out that it’s sticky and it does this and we can be more flexible and I can be on harder surfaces,” or whatever this is. And so, when you look at that, every person that you’re looking at, yourself as a brand or an agency has to look at this and say, “Okay.” If I have a budget of $5,000, let’s say per influencer and so, I send it to this influencer and I say, “Hey, Jennifer, what are you willing to do for $5,000? And this is our product. It’s a patented flying yoga mat,” whatever it is.

“What would you be willing to do for these $5,000?” And she says, “Well, I’d be willing to, I’ve got a good following on YouTube. It’s 20,000 people. I’d be willing to do an unboxing. I’d also write an article about it. My blog is a domain of 30, 35. So, you might be able to get some traction there. If we use these certain keywords, then I’m going to do three Instagram stories. And then I’m also going to go ahead and put up a post and then I’ll also blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” So, what they’re doing is they’re putting together, an individual strategy for your product, with their audience.

And you have, as an agency or the brand, look at that and go, “Yeah, I think that makes sense because I think there’s tons of value because, once again, we’re doing 10 different things for that price point.” And then it’s just figuring that out. So, it really comes down to, “Do you feel like it’s a good deal?” You as an agency or you as a brand, when you look at that and go, “Yeah, that does make sense to me. I think $5,000 for those 10 things, because it’s going to take them three days to do it.”

And once again, it’s not just focusing on just one medium or one post. It’s this overall frequency of like their followers are on different platforms, whether it be Instagram or YouTube, they see this and they see that Jennifer has been talking about this brand new yoga mat. Then you have a situation where there’s a higher likelihood of people going to purchase, but it comes down to the KPIs and your goals. So, you as a brand or agency need to know what those KPIs and goals are and, “Hey, for that $5,000, this is what I’m looking to do.” Whether it’s sales or impressions. And then how do you measure that?

Drew McLellan:

So, there are a million people doing yoga poses on Instagram to stick with your example, how do I know that Jennifer is a better influencer than Babbette? Is it how quickly she responds to posts? Is it the kinds of questions people ask? Like, how do I compare and contrast between Jennifer and Babbette?

Shane Barker:

Yeah. I mean, that’s a great question. I think it really comes down to, once again, looking at follower count is one of thing that we look at. We look at overall engagement. So, if something gets posted and she gets 10,000 likes, but nobody ever writes a comment, to me that something fishy is going on there. So, we look at engagement. What you really want to do is actually look at their profiles. So, let’s say you want to work with 15 Instagram influencers in the yoga space. So, my team or your team, or whoever would go and pull that list, let’s say it’s a hundred people. I go and do the eyeball test. So, my team will go and put it in the Excel spreadsheet or softwares, whatever that is. “Hey, this is what we’re looking at. We’re going to have this. We have your Instagram profile.” We have their name whether Gmail account, whatever this is, all this information, what their engagement rate is.

We look at all these numbers and then what we do from there is we’re going to say, “Okay, looking at these, out of these hundred, it looks like these 25 or these 40,” whatever the number is, “Have the highest engagement rate. They might be good.” I actually go and look at the profiles. I’ll go over with the brand or agency and say, “Hey, these are the ones that we think could move the needle.” And then we actually do interviews. So, that’s going to be the big differentiator is that some people just look at them and say, “Okay, great. Let’s send them some free product and let’s see what happens.” Not when we do the campaigns. When we do the campaigns, we actually want to go and interview the influencer and then also look at their profile and see if they’ve done 500 sponsorship with yoga mats.

And that doesn’t make sense for us to move forward. So, there is some manual labor that goes in there. And I think a lot of people assume, once again, they look at follower accounts, they’ve got a hundred thousand. They’re willing to do it for $500. So, let’s just send them some free product and see what happens. That’s not the best way of going about things because you need to make sure you have a good brief in place.

Then you need to make sure you have an understanding and the interviews with the influencers for me, because the brand or agency should be looking for a longer term relationship with these influencers. Because like anything else, some of them are responsible. Some of them do their work on time. Some of them don’t. You need to find great influencers and having that conversation and saying, “Hey, what do you know about XYZ, yoga company?” “Well, I do know that you guys have been around for 15 years and that you guys give 15% back to this nonprofit, which I’m a big fan of. I actually have one of your yoga’s products that I’ve used in the past, and I’m a huge fan.”

Great. That’s an influencer I want to work with, as opposed to that influencer says, “Hey, do you have any questions about the company you’d be working for?” “I just want to know when we get paid.” We can figure that out. So, the overall intent right there, you’re going, “Okay.” “I’m looking for any reason,” if I’m a brand or an agency, “To not work with an influencer,” because there’s thousands of them, millions potentially. It depends on your niche. So, we go through that whole process and it’s also nice to have that conversation with them. Once again, that kind of belly belly conversation because most brands don’t do that.

They don’t develop that deeper relationship because if things go well with that influencer, you want to pull them into your web and have them be an ambassador and have them be a part of your program. So, you guys can grow your business together because that’s how things really happen is when… It’s a frequency thing. Once people talk about your product all day long, over and over and over at certain points, you don’t even have to pay them because they just love your product and you’re sending them free product, or you’re paying them monthly, whatever the terms are to the agreement. That’s when real magic starts to happen.

Drew McLellan:

So, that sounds really labor intensive. And so, help me understand… Because I know one of the things hear from agencies is that they struggle with helping brands understand why there’s an expense to this. Why? Because it does take a lot of time to actually vet the influencers and pick and negotiate the deals and all of that. When you’re working directly with a brand, how do you help them understand the value equation of that extra time that you just described?

Shane Barker:

Well, that’s the thing, I mean, you hit the nail on the head. Most brands in the U.S. and even internationals, I’ve worked with both, they think that it’s, once again, you look at the follower account and you send them some free product and then magic happens. There’s about 500 steps in the middle of that. Not really 500, but there’s a lot. The idea of this is, there’s just a lot of work that goes into it because once again, you’re looking for the right individuals. I mean, it’s no different than if you go and you put up,  “Hey, we’re looking for an SEO person to bring in house.” You put it out, you get 500 resumes. Like you have to go through those resumes. You have to put in that time. So, it’s the same thing with influencers.

Because the idea of this is it’s an AB test. And what I mean by that is you’re hiring influencers, let’s say on YouTube and Instagram. You’re really trying to figure out where the funnel is at. You’re trying to figure out which of these influencers, like if Jennifer moves the needle more than John, then what we want to do is find more people like Jennifer that have an audience like Jennifer, and then go and find those types of individuals. Because the big thing we get is like influencer marketing doesn’t work, we did a campaign on Instagram with two influencers and it didn’t work. And as much as I understand that you think these two influencers represent the whole industry, they don’t. And that’s one of the biggest problems is just because in the past, if I dated a blonde and she burned me and cheated on me, it doesn’t mean that I don’t ever date a blonde again, really, at the end of the day.

So, the analogy is like, “Hey, maybe you’ve tried one piece of influencer marketing, one influencer, but there’s variables too. There’s platforms. There’s the influencer. There’s the content they produce. And there’s also the audience that they have.” So, finding the right influencers is always tactical in the sense that, once again, you’ve got to spend that time. It is labor intensive. And I tell brands like, “Listen, if you’re looking for somebody just to go find followers, that’s not going to be us. For us, we’re really looking to develop relationships. I can send out an email to a thousand influencers that will take your free product all day long and then we can spend the next five weeks chasing them down to try to get a review out of them. And trying to figure out what are the next steps and how are we going to get any kind of leverage from this?”

It needs to be a strategy. It’s not just, “Hey, let’s throw some stuff up on a wall and see what sticks.” It really comes down to. It’s a strategy. This is one piece of your whole marketing matrix of stuff that you’ve put together. And once again, you have to have a strategy behind that. And the strategy should be, “Hey, let’s find the right individuals.” If it’s a timing thing and you just want to get a campaign up in one week, 99% of the time, they’re going to fail because you’re not putting the time into the program. And that’s where brands, I think miss it. They assume that it’s, once again, high follower account, you send them an email. They say, “Yes.” You send them the product. One week later, they do a review and then all of a sudden the money just starts coming in and you have to hire a new accountant to count all the cash.

Drew McLellan:

So, one of the things that you’ve described was this idea of reaching out to an influencer and saying, “Hey, I have X number of dollars. What kind of a program would you put together for those dollars?” So, a couple of questions tied to that. One, should we be super transparent about how much money we have if we are an agency representing a brand? And two, how much of the strategy development in terms of what the influencer is going to do should rest on our shoulders and how much of it should actually be something the influencer comes back to us with as a proposal?

Shane Barker:

Yeah. So, I think when it comes down to, once again, working with the influencers, what I usually do is I’m very transparent. If you have money, if you have a budget, “Hey, this is what our budget is. And I want to know what you would do for that?” Because you can go back and forth and try to save budget… I mean, a brand or an agency should do and say, “Okay, we have $50,000. We want to work with at least 10 influencers and our budget is right around $4,000 or $5,000,” whatever that number is.

And then you go and let these individuals or let these influencers put together a plan. What you can say as a brand or an agency, you can go in and say, “Hey, in the past we worked with Jennifer and these are the six things, seven things that Jennifer did and we saw great successes with that kind of a mix, or putting some kind of a mix of that. We’ve seen some good successes with that, but knowing your audience, where do you think that we could get the most leverage and what would you be willing to do for this amount?”

Because you have to realize if the influencers are producing great content and they’re putting out all kinds of good stuff, they’re probably getting pitched by a lot of brands. And so, there becomes a situation, if I get pitched 10 times in a week and it takes me 10 emails to figure out what that agency or brand wants, and that’s a hundred emails, next month, or next week, I’m going to get another a hundred emails and then I get another a hundred emails.

So, it becomes a situation where trying to manage this… If I’m an influencer, I want you just to shoot me straight, like say, “Hey, this is our budget. This is what we’re looking to do. These are the influencers we’ve worked with in the past. We think you’re a good fit because of X, Y, Z. We’ve vetted you. And this is what I think we need to do to move forward.” Now the influencer can read it and go, “Hey, this makes sense. Yes, they have a budget. This is the influencers they’ve worked with in the past. It looks like they had some good traction there, and this is what they’re willing to do. Hey, we’re willing to pay you, but we’re also willing to do an affiliate program or no, we’re all an affiliate program and our affiliates are making an average of $5,000 a month. Let me show you why that is.”

Because influencers are also looking for a reason not to work with a brand. And if you lay it all out there and just say, “Hey, here goes to the deal. We don’t need to dance around this whole thing. Let me tell you what we’re offering and what we’re looking for.” And here goes another side of it, is if you are a brand or an agency and you don’t have a huge budget, that can be okay as well. What we have to do is a value trade. So, we go, “Hey, I don’t have a crazy budget. But what I do have is I have a videographer and I have a photographer. And if you’d be willing to take time on a Tuesday morning, when you free two hours, we’ll produce this content for you. This content you can use on your social media, and we’ll go ahead and make an affiliate page or something like that so you can generate some revenue from it.”

And now the influencer goes, “Okay, I’m not having to use my editor. I’m not having to use my photographer. I’m not having to put in any work other than some pictures. They’ll put the program together.” And then the brand or agency goes, “Hey, we’ll also show you how to market it so that you market it correctly.” So, once again, we can get some revenue generated for you. “Hey, what would you want to make from this monthly?” “Well, I’d love to make at least $500.” “Great. Let’s make that the goal and let’s work on this thing together.”

Drew McLellan:

So, as I’m listening to you talk, I’m thinking about most of these people are independent. I mean, the Oprah’s of the world obviously have representation, but Jennifer, the yoga lady probably does not. She’s probably doing this herself. So, what should we as agencies be thinking about in terms of negotiating within the contract? What is reasonable? What is cover our ass to have in the contract? What do we need to do to protect our clients and also acknowledging that this is a little bit of the wild, wild West?

Shane Barker:

I mean, that’s why you want to do the interview with the influencers because you kind of get an idea of… You have an interview with them at 8:00 and they get on at 8:15 or they send you an email last minute in [inaudible 00:31:00]. I mean, these are all things we look at. One of the things you have to do is you have to put together what we call an SOW or a service of work, or it’s also a brief. [inaudible 00:31:09] saying, “Hey, listen, these are the hashtags we’re going to use. This is a step that you’ve agreed to. We would like to start the content on July 29th. This is what we’re looking at. First payment will be sent out, 50% up front, which will be sent on the 15th.” Very clear terms because what happens is… And also when you talk about, when we put this together it’s also about what your goals are and your KPIs like, “Hey, this is what we’re looking to get out of this investment.”

That way you have very clear terms. Like if you and I were to work together and we’re going to work together for a year, sending three emails back and forth, doesn’t make it a valid contract. We should have our terms of like, “Who’s going to be doing what, and who’s going to be doing when and when everything’s going to get paid and how is this going to work this way.” I mean, my contracts are like eight pages. The idea that is you have to cover yourself from all angles. Another thing that agencies and brands have to look at with influencers and influencers have to think about it as well is who has the rights to the collateral, to the pictures and the video and where can they use that? So, if I’m a brand, I want to be able to use this on my website because eight years ago, it’s you just put up a picture and it was what it was and you generate some sales.

These days, you have to figure out how you’re going to use that piece of content and do some PPC, or put it on your website or put it on a brochure. So, who owns the rights to those pictures? And you need to include that in your contract. You need to tell the influencer, “Hey, I’m paying you $5,000 to produce these 10 pieces of content. And I’m also going to use this content.” It also can be a benefit to the influencer. I’m going to take your pictures and stuff and we plan to use it for a PPC campaign, which will help promote you further because it’s going to tie you back to our brand and that’s going to help you get more followers. Once again, that can be a value trade that you can put in contract.

Drew McLellan:

So, not only is my scope of work on my contract, including the deliverables, who’s going to do what, when, but it’s also about asset ownership and copyright and all of that sort of thing.

Shane Barker:

For sure. Absolutely. Because you want to have clear terms. Because once again, one of the issues why influencer marketing doesn’t work it’s because of communication. The reason why most things don’t work, relationship, anything, it usually comes down to communication. So, we can have a good… But the issue is this, the reason why I do so much education is most of the time brands don’t and agencies don’t know what to ask for. And the high percentage of the time influencers don’t know what to ask for or what to put there.

So, they’re always like, it’s just weird like, it’s like being at like a high school dance or maybe like a junior high dance. You have the guys and girls want to dance with each other, but they’re like, “I just don’t know how to do this. Like where do I put my hands? What do I do? Do I look in the eyes? Do I not?” It’s this weird deal. And so, I’m the counselor who says, “Hey, it’s okay. You guys can dance. Just don’t go too close. Let me help you guys try to work this thing out.” I know it might be a terrible analogy, but you get my point.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So, what’s a reasonable period of time for one of these scopes of work or contracts? Is it typical to try it for three months and then have the opportunity to renew? I mean, I can’t imagine you have a lot of results in a month, so what’s the shortest period of time that you would negotiate with an influencer and what’s sort of the norm?

Shane Barker:

Yes. It really depends on how much content they’re producing for us. But usually it’s at least three to six months because the idea is, once again, just because they post one picture of that bottle of creatine with them working out, it doesn’t mean that your sale is going to go through the roof. And the brands and agencies need to think about, “Okay, how are we going to look at [inaudible 00:34:30] KPIs or key performance indicators or our goals for this and how are we going to know what’s moving the needle?” So, is that going to be… On YouTube, it’s obviously views, but it’s also maybe we have a coupon for Jennifer 25. So, we know that anybody that who comes in up Jennifer 25, those are going to be sales. And we have Jennifer, that’s going to do her campaign on a Wednesday. Nobody else is going to do it [inaudible 00:34:51] our sales went up 20% and we can attribute that back to Jennifer. Or it’s an in-house thing where everybody that comes in and prints out this coupon from Jennifer’s website, then we know that that came in.

So, it’s like, how are you going to attribute this back to that influencer that put the campaign together. Usually, if they’re a good influencer and they’re doing this and they’re doing it full-time and this is their main gig, influencers have other campaigns that they’re doing. So, you can’t assume that because you reached out to them today, they’re going to get back to you tomorrow and they’ll have the content to you by Friday. The idea of this is you’re going to have a little bit of a timeline because assuming that they’re out there… It’s no different if you’re hiring an actor or something like that, you have to assume that probably they might be doing another movie right now. And it can’t be a, “Hey, we need this done in three days,” because they have to produce the content. They have to get the creative together. You guys have to work on some stuff together.

So, three to six months is usually the bare minimum that we go after and we want to produce the content and have a strategy for that. “Hey, we’re going to start off with the blog post and see how well that goes with certain keywords. And then we’re going to do a YouTube video that we can actually tie back into the blog post. And then we’re going to go promote the blog posts and also promote whatever pictures and the unveiling, the opening, whatever this is of that product. It’s that strategy you put together, and then dripping up that content and figuring out, “Hey, we’re going to send it out through our email drip list or drip campaign,” or whatever that is to be able to continue to drive that traffic. And then go to that six months and say, “Okay, let’s look at the results of everything. Let’s see what did well, what didn’t do well, and then reevaluate.”

Drew McLellan:

So, I want to ask you a little bit about managing client and brand expectations around this because this is not buy an ad. As you keep saying, it’s not a do it once and all of a sudden the cash register starts ringing. Let’s take a quick break and let’s talk about that when we come back.

I want to take just a quick second and remind you that if you head over to the agencymanagementinstitute.com website, one of the things you’ll find there in our effort to support agency owners is some on-demand training. We know that many of you want to attend our live workshops, but for some reason that doesn’t work out, maybe you’re outside of the U.S. or maybe you have little kids and it’s tough to travel, or it may just be that our calendar and your calendar do not align.

And so, what we’ve done is we now have three courses that we either regularly or occasionally offer as a live workshop. And now we’ve got them in an on-demand training version. So, you can now find a BizDev workshop, our agency new business blueprint course. You can also find our AE bootcamp. And our most recent addition is the money matters workshop. So, all of those are available. If you head over to the website and you go under training, you will see on demand training under that tab. And you can check out all three of those courses. And obviously those are courses that you can take at your leisure. You can get through the whole thing in a weekend, which I don’t recommend, or you can space it out over time. You can do it individually. You can do it with your leadership team, whatever serves your agency best.

We just want to make sure that you know that they are there and available for you. All right, let’s get back to the episode. All right. We are back and we are talking about influencer marketing. And right before the break I was asking or suggested that I was going to ask about client expectations. So, in this instant everything world that we live, influencer marketing sounds like it’s a little more crackpot esque, if you will. And then it takes a little while for things to get cooking. I guess, we don’t call them crackpots, [inaudible 00:38:23] slow cookers. It takes a little while for this to get going and for the influencer to start to drive traffic or whatever the KPIs are, how do you help brands manage expectations around that and be patient?

Shane Barker:

Yeah. I mean, I think that’s really the key. If I’m going to be working with a brand or even helping with an agency, I always have qualifying questions to look at expectation. What do they expect? “Hey, we expect to spend $10,000 and make a million.” Well, that’s probably not realistic. Of course we would love for that to happen, but let’s be realistic about this. So, I always have that conversation. Once again, communication is key in anything you do, not just an influencer marketing. For us, it’s I go, “Hey, what are you guys looking to spend on this? These are the certain things that could happen, but we’re not going to have results within the first two weeks, maybe not within the first month. The idea of this is we’re going to look at this at three months, and then we’re looking at it at six months and figure out where what’s moving the needle.”

The idea is to do 10, 15, 20 different campaigns with different influencers on different platforms. Hopefully they have different profiles. And then seeing once again, what moves the needle. It comes down to, it’s no different than PPC or SEO. It’s like, “Hey, we go do the keywords or we go after a certain audience, we re-evaluate, we put a hundred bucks behind it on PPC. And we can tell that this one had a 10% close ratio. This one had five. Well, great. We put more money behind the 10%.” So, it’s the same thing with SEO. We go after a certain keywords. And we find out after three months, we look and we say, “This one is on page one, this one’s on page seven so we should put more links and stuff behind this one.”

So, influencer marketing is no different. There’s different influencers. There’s different platforms. There’s different audiences and there’s different messaging. So, all of those are variables. If you can find somebody that knocks it out of the park for three of those or four of those, and for every dollar, you’re spending $2 or for every dollar you’re spending, you’re making $2, then that’s great. And then you would look at that and you’re going, “I can’t put enough money behind that.” But once again, just because you worked with one YouTube star on YouTube and you spent 10 grand and it didn’t go well, that doesn’t mean that YouTube doesn’t work or these types of influencers don’t work.

Drew McLellan:

How about B2B? Is this a play for B2B? Especially B2B, that’s either a considered purchase like it’s a bigger ticket item, or maybe it’s not a tangible item, maybe it’s services rather than a product, or is influencer marketing primarily a consumer play?

Shane Barker:

I mean, right now we’re seeing more B2C stuff, but I do know quite a few individuals that are in the space for the B2B. And you’re going to start seeing more and more of that. There’s like guy Kawasaki and there’s these people in the past that like with Canva and stuff, that there’s been some kind of an influencer play of like, “Hey, they’re influential. Hey, we want them to be on our board. We want them to,” whatever that is, “Promote the product.” Or bring them on as, either an investor or somebody that, actually buys the company. Influencer marketing is going to be no different. Like [inaudible 00:41:17], as an example has all kinds of sponsorships.

And it’s the same thing with influencer marketing. And that’s more of a B2B type thing, depending on obviously, the service. But, you’re going to see a lot more of that. You’re going to see a lot more of these, like these B2B, these individuals that actually only work with other businesses. And you’ll start seeing more of these like influencer type things will be like sponsorships or endorsements or something like that. But it is harder because it’s a little hard to track the ROI. I mean, because influencer marketing, once again, it’s not a, “Hey, [inaudible 00:41:49] PPC, you spend $1, you either made 75 cents or you made nothing,” or you, whatever. It’s very easy. It’s very like… The next day you should know. With this, it’s a little bit of a longer term play. But we’ve seen some good stuff with B2B as well. I mean, I’ve seen some good campaigns that have gone live with that. That, once again, just depends on what your goals are with it.

Drew McLellan:

So, one of the challenges I think for many agencies is finding the right influencers as we’ve talked about before. And there are a ton of tools out there, websites or whatever, where I can pick the category, let’s stick with yoga and I can plug that in and I’m going to get a database of influencers. Are those tools effective? Are they good? I’m sure agencies are doing it because it’s a time-saver. But at the end of the day, is that the way I should find them? Or am I really going to Instagram or YouTube or whatever and searching for yogi and then starting from there?

Shane Barker:

Yeah. I would always recommend using software only because I grew up not having software. So, I grew up grinding it out, just going and searching for these individuals. I know how time intensive that is. So, software is awesome in the sense that there’s softwares, you can go and you can pull a list of whatever, a hundred or thousand people, you can put in certain parameters. “I’m looking for yoga instructors in Los Angeles that have a follower count of 10,000 to 25,000.” Let’s say that’s the sweet spot. So, then we go and find that we can pull these lists, but nothing is going to beat the eyeball test. I mean, just nothing [crosstalk 00:43:18] you’re got to go and you take-

Drew McLellan:

For you that tool is a starting point?

Shane Barker:


Drew McLellan:

But you still have to do the legwork. Is there a tool that you think is significantly better than any other?

Shane Barker:

I mean, there’s a lot of tools. In the 30 minutes that we’ve talked in this podcast, there’s probably a brand new tool that just came out. There’s always more tools. We’ve used HypeAuditor. It’s one that we’ve used because it talks about engage fake followers and stuff like that. Just as a variable to take a look at. I mean, GRIN we’ve used in the past. AspireIQ is another one. Neoreach has a great platform in finding some stuff. These are all different platforms that once again, they’re softwares.

So, they’re phenomenal in the sense that they can help you go out and there are just curating all this information. They can pull it into a funnel and, once again, you can filter down and figure out exactly what you’re looking for, but nothing beats, once again, that eyeball test. So, if you have these 50 influencers, these listed 50 influencers, go and look up their profile, spend three minutes on each profile. Go and look at it and say, “Oh, it looks like they have an engagement rate of 5%. But when I look at their profile, the engagement is emojis. It’s 50 emojis in a row. That’s not en