When speaking with our brand partners, we constantly hear that brands find themselves struggling with getting into the influencer marketing game. Are influencer marketing agencies one way influencer marketing novices can break in? And how can brands identify the perfect-fit influencer marketing agency?
Companies can have multiple reasons for seeking the help of an agency. Here are the three most common starting positions in which brands find themselves prior to cooperating with agencies:
- Experts lacking manpower: You prefer to execute most efforts in-house but don’t have the personnel resources to fulfill your campaign strategies. You already have a finalized concept and at least a rough idea which influencers you would like to work with. The agency you’re looking for only needs to handle the campaign execution for you.
- Global player: Your department is part of a global company with a global marketing plan that spans across all marketing strategies. Your brand now needs help transferring these standards to an influencer marketing strategy. Not all marketing efforts are directly translatable to influencer marketing, so expert knowledge is needed at this point.
- Newcomer: Your brand is completely new to influencer marketing without any knowledge and experience in the field. You need support from the outset and throughout, from influencer strategies to concepts, influencer research, campaign execution, and reporting.
CEO Pro Tips for Finding the Right Influencer Marketing Agency for Your Brand
Louisa Levenhagen is founder & CEO of the newly launched e-commerce skincare brand Skincerely Yours, and she has also run an influencer marketing agency. She now has a unique perspective from both sides, and she shared with us her exclusive advice about choosing an agency below.
4 Types of Influencer Marketing Agencies
There are four main players in influencer marketing when it comes to agency work. Though all use the word agency to describe their business model, how each type works is actually very different. Depending on your starting position and your objectives, any of these options might be worth considering. Here are some pros and cons to help to find the agency type that best fits your needs.
The Management Agencies
Some agencies manage social media personalities. These management agencies usually act in the interest of influencers.
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They have a network of influencers which they place and represent, plus other, more independent influencers. An example of this kind of agency is Social Chain.
|Fast and easy|
They have a portfolio of influencers and know them well. The management is in close contact with the influencers, so execution can be quicker and relatively easier.
This kind of agency can create great results regarding campaign execution in case the brand has a good idea about the influencers they want to work with already.
Management agencies will naturally push for the influencers they represent. These do not necessarily have to be the ones with the best fit for the brand.
Also, the number of influencers the agency manages is limited, so brands will be constrained in their choice of influencers.
This kind of agency also places influencers which the agency does not manage. These influencers might have a different management.
Thus, you will have to pay double: You’ll be charged for the agency plus for the management of the influencer.
The solution: Approach the influencer or the influencer’s management directly and eliminate the middleman.
CEO Pro Tip
Levenhagen’s advice is to make sure you are clear on who the agency works for. “Ask the agency if they represent influencers,” she said. “If the answer is yes, they cannot act as an independent agency, and you need to know that. You want agencies to act in your best interest. Making sure that the agency sides with your brands will ensure the best outcome for your campaigns.”
Marketplaces are platforms for influencers to register and showcase their field of interest. Brands can find influencers in many niches and verticals.
Announcing campaigns and having influencers apply for them can be a quick and easy option for finding influencers without actually having to do a ton of research.
Brands can contact influencers directly within the marketplace and don’t need to research their contact details on social media.
Marketplaces come with a price. Since they provide the technological platform, they are costlier than simply approaching an influencer on your own. You will find contact information of your potential partner on the internet, so these costs can easily be avoided.
Since influencers have to register for the marketplace, the number of influencers available there is limited.
CEO Pro Tip
Levenhagen advised that brands should seek out data-driven platforms. She said, “Does the agency use data-driven services to find and analyze influencers, track campaigns and evaluate results? Personally, I wouldn’t work with an agency that does not include data into their process. Data is indispensable in influencer marketing, not only for detecting fake and fraud on social media but also to invest your marketing budget wisely. Each step in the influencer marketing process should be validated by data to ensure your campaign’s success.”
The Independent Influencer Marketing Agency
Independent agencies are particularly important for brands without in-house influencer marketing competency. These agencies have the best interest of the brand at heart and work diligently to fulfill the company’s needs. These agencies relate to brands much in the same way that a public relations firm would work with a brand, but these agencies specialize – and perhaps only offer services – in influencer marketing.
Independent agencies side with your brand. They will represent the interests of the brand in negotiations with influencers.
While this kind of agency could be the most fruitful option for your brand, it’s also the most expensive one.
|A to Z support|
These agencies are full-service agencies that can support brands from beginning to end. The agency will work for you from an extensive onboarding up to the final campaign execution and reporting.
Especially for brands new to the influencer marketing game, working with an agency can deliver great results, not only regarding campaigns but also when it comes to education.
Keep in mind that by working closely with these influencer marketing experts, you’ll benefit largely from their knowledge and experience.
This yields a learning effect that is unique to this kind of agency.
CEO Pro Tip
Levenhagen advised that the brand should think about how the agency can help to incorporate influencer marketing in the holistic marketing strategy of the brand. “This might sound like a sure thing but an agency should have the holistic picture in mind instead of focusing on influencer marketing only,” she said. “The influencer strategy needs to align perfectly with your other marketing measures to create a consistent brand experience.”
The PR / Creative / Digital Agency
These types of agencies existed before influencer marketing became popular, and once clients began requesting the services, they extended their portfolio to include influencer marketing. They don’t focus solely on influencer marketing and aren’t specialized in this field. An example of this agency type is Y Media Labs, based in New York.
Digital agencies are experts when it comes to marketing and can draw on years of experience in related fields.
Existing service providers might have a slightly different view regarding influencer marketing than specialized agencies.
Differing attitudes towards influencers
PR agencies use influencers for relationship-building, while creative agencies focus on their work as content creators. Media agencies use influencers for their reach. They might lack a holistic approach to the field of influencer marketing.
CEO Pro Tip
Levenhagen’s advice for working with digital agencies is to make sure the agency is eager to get to know your brand. “The right agency will ask a ton of questions and connect with you often, not only during the onboarding but throughout the course of the campaign. It is essential the agency knows your brand inside out to be able to find and connect with influencers with a great brand fit.”
Finally, change up your agency if needed, said Levenhagen. “Nothing increases motivation more than competition,” she said. She suggested having agencies pitch for your campaigns more than once to increase creativity, motivation, and drive. “Good agencies are driven by the challenge of constantly having to prove themselves and their skills,” she said.
Also, you can watch our free on-demand webinar and learn all you need to know about working with an influencer marketing agency.
The Other Option – Skip the Middleman
Keep in mind that depending on which kind of agency you choose, you will have to invest more or less of your overall marketing budget. Naturally, the more parties are involved, the more money you’ll have to spend.
Even if you’re a newcomer to influencer marketing, it might be advisable to eliminate the middleman and use a software for your influencer analysis, campaign tracking, and relationship management instead of adding the extra parties (and dollars!). Many well-known brands are opting to bring their influencer marketing efforts back in-house, especially as it becomes a core marketing strategy.
For more insights into finding the perfect-fit agency, join our upcoming webinar How to work with influencer marketing agencies.