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Biz Ladies: How to Work With Influencers to Boost Holiday Sales

by Stephanie

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As much as we may deny it, it seems as though the holiday season kicks into full gear even before the first leaves fall from the trees. For those in the retail industry, this is a time of year that can bring on major sales and business success, along with a little added stress. Mei Pak is all too familiar with the holiday rush as she coaches other creatives and blogs about small business marketing at The Pragmatic Designer. She is launching her e-course, In The Limelight, on how to be featured by popular blogs to get more traffic and make more money this holiday season, and today she is sharing some of that insight with us. Mei also designs a line of scented food jewelry at Tiny Hands that sells in over 90 stores across the US and has been featured in countless publications/blogs, giving her firsthand experience on how to market your products to the masses.  It’s time to ring in the holiday season and boost your sales! –Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

Would you like to put your product in front of a million interested people?

There are so many things you can do to market your products, most of which take time and money and have no guarantee of success. But if you can get your product into the hands of an influencer with a large following, your product may become the “must-have” or “it” item of the season!

What is an Influencer?

Okay, so what do I mean by influencer? In my book, an online influencer has a lot of social clout. Whatever they say, show, or do immediately becomes the next thing their fans obsess over. Ogilvy has a great description of influencers as well.

Influencers are celebrities in their own right. Oprah’s an influencer; her “favorite things” are extremely popular every year.

Influencers can also be self-made bloggers, vloggers, or social media rockstars. There are many influencers on YouTube alone. DulceCandy creates video hauls showing the things she’s purchased or been sent and many of her viewers then want those same things. WhatsUpElle creates entertaining videos or parodies based on the products she’s received.

Instead of creating videos, some influencers may have their own blogs or social media accounts (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) with massive followings. These offer nearly limitless opportunities for exposure through social sharing.

How an influencer can help you have a stellar fourth quarter

So, what are the benefits of working with an influencer? Being featured by an influencer can help you:

  • Be seen by thousands, if not tens of thousands of highly engaged fans
  • Receive free advertising, or low-cost advertising if you do a sponsored post
  • Help you quickly grow your social media following
  • Boost your exposure during the holiday season, if you time it right
  • Make amazing sales, not just during Christmas, but throughout the year

How to find influencers

With a little bit of research, you can spot influencers by their large following on social media, crazy number of comments and high blog traffic numbers.

You can find some of this information by simply looking at the number of likes on a Facebook page or the number of views on YouTube videos. Some bloggers have an advertising page on their site for stats.

There are tools that can help you identify influencers based on their social media following or traffic:

  • Facebook’s search engine allows you to find other pages liked by fans who already like your page or a competitor’s (while in your personal Facebook page, search “Pages liked by fans of ___”)
  • Iconosquare’s “populars” feature shows you photos that are trending on Instagram
  • Blogs often have links to other popular blogs
  • Alexa provides traffic stats and page rank information on a blog

If time’s an issue for you, you can sign up for a paid service like The Shelf. It’s a directory of popular bloggers who WANT to work with brands like you.

As you identify influencers, keep track of who they are. Start a spreadsheet of their names, social media accounts, email addresses and interests. It can be time consuming, but the research will pay off!

How to pitch influencers

Once you’ve built your list, it’s time to start pitching to the influencers!

Here are seven tips for crafting your pitch:

  • Address the influencer by name.
  • Compliment their work.
  • In a sentence or two, introduce yourself and your brand.
  • Offer to send your product as a free gift.
  • Include a call to action to trigger a response.
  • The length of the entire email should be fewer than 10 sentences.
  • Try including a personalized P.S. at the end of your message.

Follow up if you don’t hear back after one week. The follow-up should just be a few lines reiterating your first email. You can even include an offer to do a giveaway or an exclusive coupon code just for their fans.

Ways you can work with influencers

Each influencer interacts with his or her audience differently. Here are some ways your product could be featured:

  • A photo of the influencer with your product that is tagged to your account
  • A product review that includes a coupon code for your shop
  • A giveaway, where the influencer holds a contest to give your item away to a fan, and a coupon code is available for the non-winners
  • Inclusion in a list of the influencer’s favorite, must-have items

Working with an influencer is a great form of marketing that is becoming more relevant in this social media driven internet age. People may not take what you say about your own product to be true. But when a third party that they already know and trust endorses your product, that’s huge!

Start now to get your product into the hands of influencers so you have plenty of time to build incredible buzz for your brand this holiday season.

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Comments

  • As a small business owner and grass roots marketer I truly appreciate the advise on working with influencers. I feel like you gave some good tools to go back and reshape my strategy for marketing and sales. Thanks for the help!!!

  • Thank you so much for this post and the information contained herein – I have been trying to figure a way to get my design work in front of the influencers and tastemakers and this definitely helps me with creating a stratagem for such. I am very appreciative!

  • This particular subject has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks. As a paper goods designer, I frequently (weekly) get asked by “Influencers” of various levels of influence, to provide pro-bono products. Often times, the products will be for gift bags given as additional incentive to the ticket-purchasers of their classes, blog-shops, etc. In these cases, I’m often asked to provide MANY products. I’ve been trying to cull together a sort of method-plan for dealing with these inquiries & the best, broad-stroked asks I have in return of the requests are; 1) Influencer should cover the cost of shipping and/or wholesale cost of the items they’re requesting. 2) Influencer should guarantee the products will be called out by name & tag in post and/or shared photos.

    I actually was a bit stupefied when one VERY popular blogger asked for 30 of my high-ticket items for a workshop gift-bag, and asked my company to provide free of charge, with no guarantee they’d be included or called out in their post on the workshop. As always, you need to evaluate each offer on a case by case basis, but come on–we’re small business owners with a sometimes very tight profit margin! We need a little tit for tat.

    That all being said, I’ve gotten some very wonderful publicity that has led to sales jumps from a lot of “Influencers” purchasing my goods anonymously, or from simply discovering our goods online…have to say, I like those the best!

  • This is very helpful, but are there “fake” influencers? I have worked with several bloggers that had a large following but had slim to no response from their audience.

  • That’s an interesting topic, especially for the small business owners like myself. It really takes time to find good influencers and to develop a relationship that would be beneficial for both parties. Anyway, this post got me to pay more attention to the possibilities of marketing through the influencers.

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