Would you believe that even the big, fancy influencer marketing managed services companies need an influencer marketing consultant? Sadly, it’s true.

I say this as someone who has hired and managed campaigns with managed services companies over the years. I’ve also hired and contracted execution with companies calling themselves influencer marketing agencies. While some do pretty good work for what they offer, most are missing two major components of successful influence marketing work: Strategy and Creativity.

Case in point: I recently asked a popular managed services provider in the industry to provide me with a proposal to leverage influencers and content creators to drive new sign-ups on a client’s website. We know that every person who signs up on the website ends up spending a certain amount of money there, so the conversion of a new user was the primary goal. My challenge to them was to help me define a strategy and creative way to drive people to do that.

The product, client and target consumer led me to advise them that Twitter, Podcasts and YouTube are probably the right networks to focus on, but I would take their recommendation to do something different if the data proved out.

This is the Cliff’s Notes version of what they submitted to me as a strategy and creative concept:

  • 10 creators
  • 3 posts each
  • 1000 engagements
  • 500,000 impressions

As you might imagine, my response was not what they anticipated. Certainly, they dressed all that up with a 20-page deck with color images and a few content creator posts that alluded to them being the types of creators they identified. There were 5-6 slides about how important influencer marketing was and how cool their company is.

But I’ll be damned if I didn’t read the deck five times looking for anything that remotely smelled of strategy and creativity. Came up empty each time.

(This is why I’m now offering influencer marketing consulting more actively. The industry is stuck in a rut and brands deserve better. But I’ll get to that soon enough.)

Here’s a paraphrasing of my response to this managed services company after reading their proposal:

First of all, a list of the numbers you’re going to hit is just that: A list of numbers. It’s a check list. It is not a strategy. On top of that, there’s nothing creative about making up numbers of how many creators and posts, doing some projected math for engagements and impressions and calling it a day.

This proposal contains no strategy. A strategy is more like, “We will engage creators in vertical A and vertical B to reinforce message C while demonstrating product benefit D then recommending call to action E which will help solve the business need of F by increasing G.” You might even mix strategies and have the creators in vertical A drive home a message or call-to-action that is different than that in B. But you have to spell out who you’re going to use, when, where, why and how. “Three posts each” doesn’t cut it.

And then there’s the perhaps more obvious miss here: How are the creators you use going to get the message across to their fans and followers? What’s the creative concept that lights a fire under the effort and moves the influencers to get excited and engaged? What creative strategy are you recommending we orchestrate to produce optimal organic performance and persuade the audience to take action?

For example, instead of you telling me you have 10 creators on Twitter who will post three times, explain to me how you’ll engage the 10 to post about the brand, but also tag and engage with each other around the campaign, messaging, or purpose to amplify and drive the conversation.

What you gave me was a prescription of 30 posts. What I asked you to give me was an idea to make 30 posts come to life.

Whether you are on the brand side engaging these managed service companies and influencer agencies or you’re at an agency engaging them to help you execute on behalf of a client, be on the lookout for tactics dressed up as strategy. Ask yourself, “What creative concept makes me think this is unique and will come to life?” If you see the first and can’t figure out the second, you need an influencer marketing consultant who knows how to build strategy and creative concepts for influence campaigns.

Push back. And if you need help, I know a guy. Heh.

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Jason Falls at Content Marketing World

Join Me at Content Marketing World!

I’m thrilled to return to Content Marketing World in 2022 and share ideas on how brands can leverage influencers to help build their content marketing strategies. We’ll get into the weeds a bit and you’ll go home with great ideas on how to pull more value from your creator partnerships.

Sign up now by clicking on the badge (or here) and use the code FALLS100 to save $100 off the ticket price! See you in Cleveland!

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