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3 Steps Smallbusiness Owners Can Take To Build Successful (and Affordable) Influencer Collaborations

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3 Steps Smallbusiness Owners Can Take To Build Successful (and Affordable) Influencer Collaborations

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3 Steps Smallbusiness Owners Can Take To Build Successful (and Affordable) Influencer Collaborations
  • Small business owner Molly Fedek and owner consultant Alexandra Chadro discuss influencer marketing.
  • They discussed low-cost impactful collaborative strategies.
  • Building relationships with influencers and making pricing business friendly are two top tips.

In a world where mega-influencers charge tens of thousands of dollars to post on social media, influencer marketing can seem out of reach for small marketers on a tight budget. But working with influencers can be a great marketing channel to get your brand in front of a stable audience, build trust, and acquire new customers in a cost-effective way.

Molly Fedek, founder of soft drink company Buzzkill Wine, saw a 327 percent increase in her direct-to-consumer sales when she started investing in influencer marketing. That doesn't surprise him, he told Insider, because he understands the value of empowering a dedicated community of influencers in his latest role as Hinge's creative director.

Alexandra Shadro, founder of Trailblaze Consulting, says that Jumble, a direct-to-consumer app, relies on influencer marketing.

"We can build our communities from scratch one by one, or we can use existing communities to quickly build larger communities," he said. With over 10 years of experience in influencer marketing and an influencer herself, Shadow works with over 600 influencers per month to grow her user base on both the buyer and seller side.

Shadow and Fedick shared with Insider the best practices they use to ensure impactful partnerships work while staying within their small business budgets.

1. Focus on engagement and more than the number of followers

Instead of following the biggest influencers in your industry, Shadow recommends stepping back and listing ideal influencer criteria.

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For him, even with a large audience, the first thing he wants is a high level of participation.

Think about it: an influencer with 10,000 followers and 20% engagement has an active audience size of about 2,000 people. "Compare to an influencer who has 100,000 followers and 1% engagement, that's only 1,000 people," says Chadro.

This allows small business owners to target a small but powerful audience of low-cost micro-influencers. UpDog uses a free Chrome extension to measure the engagement level of potential influencers and looks for people with at least 5% overall engagement on their site.

This will ensure that the agent you choose has the right industry and value. For Jumble, that means focusing on savings and sustainability, and not flooding their site with product deals. "If someone wants to promote every brand under the sun, they can get lost in every collaboration they do," says Chadro.

2. Understand different ways to deliver value – and stay within budget

When it comes to paying influencers, there are many ways to make this approach more budget-friendly.

Fidic says that depending on the target audience and the product they offer, business owners can offer free products in exchange for promotion. Aimed primarily at influencers looking for non-alcoholic options or scams, it offers free shipping on products (which cost about $35 with delivery).

"I tell them I'm a little one-woman show with no budget, but all I can do is send products, and I can send you as many as you want," she says. Vidic believes this strategy has helped him get more than 2 million views on other people's TikTok channels, according to reports from fellow influencers.

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If paid influencers are entering the realm, Shadrow tells Insider small businesses can save money by eliminating agents with managers (whose costs will automatically be higher) and sticking to their budgets. "Don't just pay influencers," he says.

Shadow said he successfully negotiated upfront costs with agents for something he felt more comfortable with the brand. "I also convey that if all goes well, there will be more opportunities for bigger budgets in the future. The right influencers will see the value of your brand and want to grow with you."

There are other ways to apply for compensation even if you don't have any money. For example, you can offer affiliate links where influencers receive a percentage of the sales they contribute. Fedick boosted the big partnership he was working on by offering him a small amount of money in exchange for his promotion.

"They don't charge money, but they have special reasons to push the product as far as they can," he says.

3. Creating a stable bilateral relationship

Fedick recommends focusing your time on building legitimate relationships with influencers. For example, they always work with influencers to get deals that appeal to their audience, such as coupon codes, free shipping, or other benefits that engage their community.

Fedek knows its audience better than it does, allowing influencers to direct the content they create. Dan Shadow, who works in paid collaboration, takes a similar approach. It also provides a short Google Dos and Don'ts document and sample content that most agents will appreciate to guide them.

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When influencers post, FIDIC encourages business owners to like, comment and repost. This not only gets appreciation but also gives brands great content to post on the channel. "We're all about the same thing, so there's no reason why I can't introduce these influencers to my audience as well," Fedek said.

Finally, instead of sending hundreds of influencer packages, Fedick recommends building deep relationships with 20 to 50 people. "I don't believe in temporary, short-term surrender, I believe in long-term cooperation," he said.

Instead of focusing on reaching more new players, Fedek plans to ship new products in development to existing players. "You don't get that kind of exposure until you have a real relationship with the agent," he says.

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