Guest Post by David Völler
Starting one’s own business is challenging, even more so in the fast-paced influencer marketing industry. Founder David Völler, CEO of all impact artist management, shares his experiences in starting his influencer management agency and growing a successful business, all while supporting the artists and creators that drive this industry.
Before I founded my own company, I worked in the media industry for a TV program as a reporter and for a newspaper as a journalist. During that time, YouTube started to become immensely popular in Germany and Instagram was also on the rise. To put it simply: Everything started with YouTube, where I had my own channel and format.
While YouTube was and, in some terms, still is the number one platform, Instagram started to grow rapidly and became very popular as well. Since I always had a strong interest in the US market, I started following American Instagram profiles and noticed how much further the American Instagram market was, especially in regards to advertisement and product placements. Germany, on the other hand, was slow to adapt and far behind compared to the US. Next to YouTube, the only popular platforms were individual blogs, which meant that there was a huge gap left to be filled.
I noticed quickly that influencers on Instagram weren’t really aware of their own worth and what they could accomplish if they would do things right and not just mindlessly buy followers, which is why decided to focus on talented individuals with a strong following and push their content further.
So how did I start my influencer management agency? To be honest, I basically started completely from scratch. Although I did have some contacts from my previous job in the media industry, I didn’t know anybody that worked with YouTubers or Instagram influencers.
So, I decided to develop my own concept for the company, which I still follow, very successfully, today. I had a very precise image in my head of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to accomplish it. I knew there were lots of platforms already, focused specifically on helping influencers promote their content for monetary gain, some of which I’m still critical of today.
There were also lots of agencies already but none of them really had their influencers as their center of attention, they would rather accept as many contracts as possible, which resulted in a lot of spammy content on Instagram, that you can still see on a lot of profiles today. In short, I wanted to do things better, simpler and more natural. With my concept in mind, I started looking for the most fitting influencers.
The next hurdle was to get in touch with people and grow my non-existent network. My first event that I attended was Berlin Fashion Week. Albeit much smaller than the bigger ones in New York or Paris, it was the right step to get a foot in the door. I met some influencers there, got new contacts and even won over some contracting partners.
Convincing people to work with someone they barely know isn’t really an easy task. I was as honest as possible and didn’t make any promises. A lot of influencers try to find the best management, that does it all, but something like that just doesn’t exist. The management has to match with the on the personal level, share the same goals and there needs to be trust between both parties. Once that is the case, the first step in the right direction is already done. Creating a simple “business relationship” doesn’t work out in the long term, because you often travel together, attend events and talk on a daily basis.
My most convincing aspect was transparency. I wanted my artists to know about everything that’s going on and that they have the chance to convince themselves of what I do when and where they want to. They would never have to worry that all impact would arrange campaigns behind their back or take a bigger cut than agreed to. All of our artists receive their own all impact inbox, which my employees and I use but the influencers themselves can have access to anytime. By doing so, we make sure that our artists never miss any request and can always what is going on. Additionally, we are basically available for them 24/7, which admittedly can be tiring sometimes, but is often worth the extra effort.
Following my concept, the company grew somewhat automatically. I tried to arrange as many personal meetings as possible, as you can only be so convincing through a simple email. I attended a lot of events, ranging from the aforementioned Berlin Fashion Week to the New York Fashion and also Conventions, YouTube Days and so on. For Berlin Fashion Week, I developed the concept of an “Influencer House”. The concept worked out incredibly well and resulted in two more “Influencers Houses” for the Milano and New York Fashion Week in 2017.
Attracting bigger personalities was a big problem at first. Smaller ones often saw a win-win situation for both them and my company. But bigger ones often had already had bad experiences with former agencies and management and didn’t understand how they could also profit from me and not only me from them. What helped me out the most was, to be frank, word of mouth. People in the influencer business talk a lot. And because I made myself visible, people naturally started talking about me, too. But because I did my job well and stayed true to my concept, I received mostly positive feedback, and when it was negative, I used it to improve myself and my company further. It is something I am incredibly proud of because this also reflects on me and my team’s work.
David Voeller is the founder and CEO of ai GmbH, all impact artist management. Founded in 2017, all impact artist management has risen to quick success as a management agency for influencers ranging from popular german YouTubers, Instagram personalities as well as TV Stars. Some of the most popular artists and influencers represented by all impact management are Kay One, Saskia Beecks, and Cita Maaß. Find David on LinkedIn.