05 May How to Work with Influencers as a Shop Owner
The last few years have been full of economic turbulence and the pandemic’s influence continues to affect revenue streams and opportunities. Without the usual schedule of conventions, shows, and guild events that businesses have relied upon to bolster sales and discover new opportunities, many have had to diversify to secure their livelihoods. Shops have had to pivot or shut their doors. The manufacturers that once leaned on these already stressed businesses are also looking elsewhere to maintain a healthy cash flow. Retailers and shop owners who were once the sole proprietor of manufacturers’ products have now found themselves competing with independent influencers and designers, who have lower overhead and can gain higher margins when they sell directly to consumers. The situation has created a perfect storm for the rise of influencer marketing in the crafting sphere.
An influencer is someone who has the ability to affect the purchasing decisions of others within a distinct niche because of their authority, knowledge, and/or trusted relationship with their audience. For the crafting sphere, that could be a pattern designer, fabric designer, indie dyer, teacher, hobbyist, YouTube personality, or a prominent shop. They are the masters of the know-like-trust funnel. Because of their ability to sway opinion and direct consumers, influencers have become integral to many brands’ marketing strategies; if you can partner with an influencer to promote your product, those customers who may not be swayed by traditional advertising could be more likely to make a purchase.
But where does that leave shops? The rise of online communities coupled with pandemic-related business issues have created some pretty modern problems, and you know what they say. Modern problems require modern solutions. Or in other words, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Collaboration is Key
Think of influencers as another tool you can leverage to engage your customers. There are probably a couple of influencers on your radar or personalities with which you’re already associated. How can you collaborate with them on their upcoming campaigns?
- Creating a custom yarn color or design
- Featuring the influencer in a curated subscription box
- Creating a kit for their newest pattern
- Hosting an in-store or virtual influencer event with exclusive, event-specific deals and specials
- Sponsoring an influencer’s event with free products, coupon codes, and/or gift certificates
If your customers are excited for an upcoming influencer event, can you support your customers and their enthusiasm and turn it into an in-store or online experience? Collaborating with the influencer, instead of viewing them as competition, helps increase brand awareness and enables you to reach new customers for your business.
To find an influencer, you have to go where they live; that means heading to social media channels and focusing on ones where you know your customers spend their time. Searching for hashtags associated with the line or company that you want to promote can reveal influencers who are already talking about or using the product. On platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, generic hashtags related to the craft can also lead to potential influencers.
Once you’ve found some potential influencers, the next step is reaching out to them. You could send a direct message or email, introducing your shop or brand and express interest in collaborating. It’s crucial to personalize your message and explain why you would like to work with the influencer to create content. Alternatively, offering your product or materials to the influencer in exchange for social media posts or content creation is another approach. By discussing specific terms and expectations for the collaboration, you can establish a mutually beneficial partnership.
When building influencer campaigns, which may involve coupons, giveaways, in-store or online events, or product tie-ins, you will need a method for measuring the results of your campaign. Working with influencers should deliver measurable results for your business, whether it’s in the form of product sales, newsletter subscribers, store foot traffic, or another desired effect.
The most simple method for tracking ROI with an influencer campaign is by issuing influencer-specific coupon codes, in the case of products and event sign ups, or creating giveaway-specific hashtags, in the case of giveaways. For in-store events, create guest lists and encourage RSVPs to track attendees. Remember to generate reports for any coupon codes issued, and measure hashtag use numbers to ascertain the campaign’s success.
UGC Marketing is the New Influencer Marketing
Influencers have become such a force because they are masters at using their platforms to create a sense of community among their followers. Remember, you are a community builder, too. Look to your community to foster UGC, or user-generated content.
The difference between UGC and an influencer is that influencers are compensated (either with money or products) to create content and share across their platforms and marketing channels, while UGC is content that is created independently that you can then reuse on your marketing funnels. This could include photos, videos, tutorials or testimonials. According to the Future of Marketing, adding user-generated content to your marketing funnel creates a 29% increase in conversions.
It’s easy enough to collect UGC for your business with photo contests, a branded hashtag, or creating polls. Check out our blog on UGC for more insight and information.
The beauty of UGC is there is a level of trust built into the content by virtue of its humble origins. Crafters sharing photos, videos, testimonials, and tutorials that feature your products are doing so of their own volition. We already know that word of mouth marketing is still one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. People are more likely to shop from businesses that their friends and family shop from. Think of UGC as an early form of the influencer. They exert more influence on the shopping behaviors of their neighbors than you might think! By searching UGC or by looking at incoming referrers on your google analytics, you might also find an as-yet-undiscovered talent who loves using your products and be part of their rise to becoming an influencer. Don’t underestimate working from the ground up!
Be Your Own Influencer
If working with an influencer doesn’t feel right for your business, try your best not to be distracted by the influencers and keep doing what you’re best known for. Just because something seems to be trending online does not mean that it’s a good fit for your business. That doesn’t mean that you can ignore what’s happening with influencers. If you’re not collaborating with them, take the time to learn from them.
Show up like an influencer online and be your own community builder. It’s up to you to make sure you’re implementing the best practices for your online presence. It means creating and publishing consistent posts that are on topic. Interact with your online community; if someone leaves a comment or has a question, make sure to respond. Be where your customers are online. Even if social media isn’t your favorite way to communicate, your customers may feel at home there and choose that as their introduction to you and your business. Foster that connectivity as much as possible, in the ways that make the most sense for you.
Looking for help with finding the right influencer for your business? Stitchcraft Marketing connects influencers with a diverse range of clients, which includes manufacturers and distributors of yarn, fiber, fabric, notions, tools, equipment and more. We periodically send out calls for review (paid and product-only opportunities) to our growing list of approved, well-vetted crafting superstars. Contact us for more information on our influencer program.
We hope this brief introduction on how to collaborate with influencers has been helpful. Looking for more ways to create community and diversify your revenue streams? Stitchcraft Marketing is a marketing agency of crafting experts. We customize every program to showcase your brand, engage your customer base, and generate sales in a way that is nothing less than magical. If you’d like to work with us, contact us today to get started!