Marketing

Top 5 Worst Things to Avoid When Working with YouTube Influencers / E-Celebrities

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I have worked with some of the biggest YouTubers, many of which you could probably recognize.

The reason I decided to write this article is due to some recent negative experiences our company had with influencers and we wanted to ensure that other agencies or companies looking to market with influencers understand these issues as well.

Note: We are not here to insult or trash any particular influencers, but I want to help fellow entrepreneurs in their path towards influencer marketing and I wanted to do it based on some lessons I have learned the hard way!

5. Small Fee = Big Deal!

When paying some influencers via PayPal, some had made huge deals over $3 – $5 dollar fees that PayPal deduced from their final pay.

Isn’t it expected that PayPal would take a fee? They aren’t rendering their services for free after all! But some of these influencers have literally refused to work after being paid hundreds (or thousands) of dollars because of a small fee.

To avoid this kind of situation, it is important to specify who will be responsible for the fees in your agreements or contracts with these influencers.

It seems very unprofessional for small things to be made into such a big deal, but some influencers want to feel like they are kings. If they feel in any way that they are being ripped off or getting the short end of the stick, they will speak up about it, and in the case I had experienced, refuse to work until the additional payment was made.

A few bucks is not a big deal for us to pay of course, the problem is the hassle it causes for us as well as the delay it causes when they refuse to work!

It also reveals their character in which they are more focused on a few bucks than on the actual deal itself or the potential for a future relationship with more deals to come.

Business is more about the small interactions than anything else. The grip of a handshake or the confidence in your eye movements could determine whether a deal will happen or not!

4. Their Pricing is Arbitrary

One influencer with 10K fans might demand $12,000 for a promotion, while another influencer with 1 million fans might only ask for $2K.

When it comes to influencer marketing, the pricing is usually random. They might base their pricing off the highest deal they’ve ever been able to achieve.

So, for example, if an influencer was able to successfully milk a large company for $10K, then in their future dealings, they might always demand a minimum $10K.

I know this because I have encountered several instances where I ask an influencer for their pricing and their response was along the lines of, “I was paid $10K for my previous deal, so this is how much I would expect!”

What this shows is a complete lack of understanding for their own value. They might base it off of whatever the biggest company gave them. This is total “employee mentality” and instead of focusing on the value they could deliver to you or your client via conversion rates, some influencers (not all) seem more focused on milking large companies than actually delivering results.

My take: Avoid working with these types of influencers. They might have a big name and look good on your portfolio, but if the conversion is disappointing, then you’ll leave your clients or your business out of money and they might be very upset! If these influencers continue getting big deals, that’s great for them! My expectation is that they will eventually go through a dry phase and at that point, be more flexible with their pricing.

3. They Gossip with Each Other

Big influencers within the same niche are often very close friends with each other, even if you haven’t seen them collaborating on their channels.

This has a lot to do with the previous point (above), as influencers might often create drama regarding pricing.

Example: As an agency we work with multiple influencers for the same sponsor or deal. Influencer A asks for $300 and and influencer B asks for $7,000 (just an example), the contracts are signed and the influencers are paid. Later on, Influencer A finds out how much more Influencer B was paid for the deal (because they like to talk a lot), and Influencer A might throw a huge fit about it.

Unfortunately I learned this lesson the hard way, and the end product from “Influencer A” suffered, and BOTH of those influencers ended up shunning me or thinking I was doing something shady when all I did was give them the pricing they asked for in the first place!

In my personal opinion, the best way to avoid this is to have an NDA built into your agreements and specify that the price is also not to be discussed with anyone else. Of course, this won’t actually stop them from gossiping and as you will find out in the next point, influencers often barley read the agreements they sign!

2. They Don’t Always Read the Fine Print

Sometimes you might have multiple email conversations with an influencer regarding a certain promotion only to find out when they deliver the content that it was totally different from what you may have discussed with them.

I had experiences where influencers demanded more money because they thought they were being asked to do something that wasn’t originally “agreed upon” even though it was discussed in emails prior AND was listed in the contract terms itself.

Always be sure to be extremely clear and direct with influencers about what you want! If you want to give them creative freedom, go for it, but if you or your client have specific terms, be sure to emphasize this as many times as possible!

1. You Should Not Expect Respect

Business owners work hard for our money, they might not be well known to the general public, but that doesn’t stop them from showing the utmost respect for each other and showing proper business manners in all professional situations.

When working with influencers however, you will eventually meet some toxic influencers who have zero understanding of basic business concepts, respect, or professionalism. It can be irritating as well to deal with people who are so big and famous, yet act like entitled children behind the scenes, but this is the reality of the profession.

I am not saying that ALL influencers are like this, in fact, I have met some of the nicest and most professional influencers on YouTube, but what I have specifically noticed is that size does not correlate with professionalism. I knew influencers with 10,000 fans who were total professionals, and influencers with 1 million+ subscribers who acted like children.

We as business owners need to expect this sort of behavior and know how to deal with it. The last thing you want to do is insult an influencer or start some sort of heat with them. If you sought access to their fans in order to promote your product, you better understand that it could also be used against you!

Story Time

People keep asking me for a specific experience I had where I felt disrespected by an influencer.  I will not name this influencer specifically, let’s just say he has over a million fans in a certain animated niche on YouTube.

We were both attending a relatively small local event (I knew this because I follow all the influencers I work with on Twitter).

Being with my staff at the event, by random chance, we spotted this influencer and approached him. I introduced myself, explained who I was, and provided a business card. His response was to stare at me, very awkwardly, then I watched him nod his head and abruptly walk away before I could say anything further.

I should probably mention that, at this point, I had worked more than $10,000+ worth of deals with this influencer. That means I had sold this influencer to many of my clients and worked hard to get them specifically chosen over other influencers on our roster because this influencer had a great on-camera personality and high conversion rate.

In the world of business, if someone makes you $10K+ richer, you should at least show some respect to them right?

Why did this Happen?

Perhaps he did not recognize me? (Though we had met in person before.) Perhaps he was in a rush to attend something? I will never know what was going on in this person’s mind that they would possibly show such a lack of respect for me, not only in person, but in front of me and my own staff who were standing right there.

Of course, as a business owner we have to deal with these kinds of things responsibly and do our best not to anger the influencers or act unprofessionally. However, at that moment I decided that I would not pitch that specific influencer to our clients anymore. It had nothing to do with his work, which I find to be very good, but rather the small interactions that have an impact on the relationship.

A lot of people think that business is just a machine and it’s all about the work and the money. The truth is that business is just a network of relationships between people. Despite what the movies like to convey, business people have feelings and emotions as well.

Conclusion

In-person interactions and mutual respect are the little things that most business is built on. I might not be an influencer myself and I certainly don’t put myself above or equal to these influencers, but when they show a level of disregard for the person who fought so hard for you to get those deals in the first place, cutting them off might be the only reasonable response, wouldn’t you agree?

As the point suggest, I do NOT expect respect, and I will never make the same mistake of expecting influencers we’ve worked with multiple times to greet me with open arms and treat me like an equal business partner or anything. Unfortunately, most influencers are not “business minded” and therefore most of them are only your “friend” when there’s money involved. So, if your expectations are low, then it’s difficult to be disappointed!

That being said, while this article focused heavily on the negatives, I still hold a high amount of respect for influencers in general and have made great friendships with several influencers that I continue to work with time and time again!

For influencers, keep focusing on your work but I also suggest that basic business manners and skills can go a very long way!

Top 5 Common Product Flaws that Yield Poor Sales Results

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Some Background Info on Myself

I have managed many client marketing projects from top level campaign planning to creative digital asset building. I’ve touched upon industries from cryptocurrency, hardware tech, wearable tech, fashion and a lot of e-commerce projects.

I have extensive experience in dealing with clients in these industries and have learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way which I hope will help shed some light on reasons why campaigns fail and succeed and common areas I have identified in my over 9+ years working in this field.

The Core Belief

If your product isn’t selling, it is because:

1.) You aren’t telling the right people the right things about your product

2.) Your product sucks

It’s really that simple. And I firmly believe that the struggles of a marketing campaign either stem from these two issues. In this article, I will focus primarily on the product side of marketing.

Your Job is to Get Sales Not Re-Design the Product

In the early days, I approached clients as their “marketing” consultant. I understood very well that I’m not an expert on hardware manufacturing and I didn’t really hold much authority in suggesting changes to the product design that I believed could help clients sell more products.

For example, if I was dealing with a client that wanted to sell phone cases, I may have suggested that the phone case, while it does its job of protecting the phone, doesn’t have a visual appeal that other top selling phone cases have. In this case (like so many others) the client’s are so convinced that the features or functionality of their product is so good that aesthetics don’t really have a big impact on sales. This is absolutely wrong!

I was absolutely wrong for letting my early clients get away with telling me things like, “I appreciate your feedback, but this is my product and I hired you to market it for me, not re-design my product.” I’ve heard lines like this as well, “If I wanted to re-design my product I would have hired a professional product designer!”

Of course, I was much younger back then and I would rather not get on their bad side and loose my precious client! It is an important lesson to learn that if you firmly believe the client’s product is bad, you need to inform them about it, suggest the changes, and either circumvent those limitations or let your client know to adjust their expectations moving forward because you have discovered that their product does not align with target audience wants and needs!

1. The Problem is… Your Product Sucks

The fact is many product “designers” are people who know how to use a 3D program, they understand manufacturing processes and try to find efficient ways to manufacture the product, worry about injection molding, etc. Product designers aren’t doing any consumer research, surveying the target user and trying to find out what the user wants. In the end, usually these product designers are designing things that they may find aesthetically pleasing with no regard to the target consumer.

And most business owners enter a field, not because it was their dream to be the world’s greatest phone case maker, but usually as a result of opportunities, backdoor connections, or luck. Many businesses I work with have found success through B2B relationships and decide it’s time to take on the mainstream consumer market!

And this is where they begin to find struggles. While perhaps a B2B business relationship is mainly concerned with features, efficiencies, and functionality, these client’s are totally unaware that mainstream consumers are a little more fickle. Consumers care about things like whether or not the color matches their purse, whether the price is competitive with competitors, or if they can modify it or use it for their particular use case.

As an effective marketer your job is not only to “get sales,” but also to understand the market, define the consumer’s wants, expectations, and ensure that the product you are selling matches those desires and needs!

2. The App UX is Unusable

I’ve had experiences with clients who want more app downloads or whose hardware interfaces with a mobile app. In some of these cases, the app has a steep learning curve or the features are hidden in random menus or screens.

A good marketer should conduct user experience testing and figure out areas of confusion, especially user testing with people who match the target user demographic! If certain features are frustrating in the app or if the user has troubles understanding the app then this is a huge problem!

You need to address these issues to the client, don’t be afraid to step out of your “realm of authority” and tell the client what you truly think about the product. A mature conversation needs to be back and forth open dialogue. If the client can’t handle criticism from you, then they certainly won’t be able to handle criticism from an influencer or reviewer who is trying to use the product but can’t even use the app!

And this is a very important reason of why the UX of the app needs to be pristine! The client may be wondering, “What does the user experience have to do with sales? I need sales first before I can address the features of the app!” And if a core of the marketing campaign relies on heavy influencer promotion and work, then good luck with getting an influencer to have the patience to deal with a poorly designed app.

3. The Product is Ugly

Never mind if the client’s phone case can survive a fall from 4 stories high, if the product looks ugly then it’s not going to stand out in photos and customers aren’t going to have any incentive to post pictures of their purchase to social media or share with their friends.

Having an ugly product in no way helps your client achieve their sales goals to mass market!

And you may come into trouble with your client because “ugly” is very subjective and while they may be convinced their product is a work of art, you will need to justify your reasoning by comparing their product to competitors, showing design trends, or hot selling products to help back up your case. This is why surveying target users is so important!

This is what is truly meant by the “customer is always right.”

4. The Competition is Much Better

Many clients I deal with love to brag about how much better their product is than the competition and they are very confused about why theirs isn’t selling. They often get angry when they see successful social media posts from the competition and they act like their competition is completely trash and not worth looking at.

Regardless of what your client may think about the competition, never take their word for it! I mean, it should be obvious that this is the last person you want to believe when talking about competitors. But these clients might be experts in their fields, they may have a way with words that might convince you otherwise.

What a good marketer should do is really take some time to analyze the competition. What is their product doing right? Why is their marketing effective? Most of the time this really just comes down to a much better product.

Most clients just wont get it and you’ll have to tread very carefully and maturely in this space, especially if you are a lone consultant. It does help to work with teams where you can reinforce your thinking a little better.

Q: Why are clients so ignorant about their competition?

A:  It’s not usually the case that they are ignorant. Often times these people have spent a huge amount of time and money developing their product. They have become so engulfed in the fact that they spent 10 years “perfecting” their product that they are at a point where they don’t want to make any further changes, they don’t want to acknowledge that their competition who is younger, newer is better.

Another thing to consider is that your client might not want you getting the wrong ideas about their product. It may be an ego issue but it also my be a way to ensure consultants don’t go running off to the competition with all the behind the scenes secrets. In any case, it’s very common for people’s emotions to get the best of their judgement.

5. The Features Are Not Wanted or Needed

Often times clients are so bent on making something “new” and “unique” that they try to implement features that might seem revolutionary to them and even to you, but it is important to relay those ideas to the target customer and test if this really is the case.

I have experienced clients who have grand ideas (usually for apps or software) and they have spent a great deal of time working on these features or ideas because “no one else has done it in this space!”

Two thoughts that come out of this, the first is that probably someone else has tried the idea before or the idea itself is just not viable in the space. To elaborate more on the viability, it may also be the case that the budget required to build up an audience for this “feature” that nobody thought they ever needed is tremendous!

Engineering user behavior vs. letting the user decide what features or use case they want is very important to identify, directly confront your client about this, and make sure that you are making informed decisions based on what the real users want.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this has helped give an idea of some product related issues that might come up regarding marketing campaigns and how to approach your client with your concerns.

Honestly, if you don’t believe in the product or you don’t think the target customer will be very excited about this product, those concerns needs to be addressed early on. Don’t keep your mouth shut because you are afraid to piss off the client. And it is true that clients can be very defensive and close minded about the flaws in their own product.

You need to make sure you can maturely discuss the concerns from a results oriented mindset and ensure a successful campaign. The last thing you want to do is to allow a mistake from Month #1 of the campaign to be a lingering concern or compromise the campaign by month #12. Obviously you want to do your research, make sure you conclusions about the product are informed and correct before approaching your client with these concerns, and if the client is initially unwilling to accept these facts you need to:

1.) Clearly and openly inform them that they should adjust their expectations and that while you will try your best to market the product, the results may be less than what you had originally agreed upon. If the client gets upset and decides to drop you as a result of this mature conversation, then you should accept that they would have dropped you anyways even if the sales perform exactly as you had anticipated.

2.) Consider allowing the client time to perfect their product, these things take time and you don’t want to waste the client’s money by charging them for marketing services when you have nothing to market if they truly do decide to take your advice and implement the changes! This also shows your transparency and willingness to understand the client’s financial obligations and they might trust you more than ever before!

Some thoughts:

What if the client accepts my suggestions but the sales don’t increase to an acceptable level?

You might want to look at a few things:

1.) What are the customers saying now about the new and improved product? (Of course you’ll never have the PERFECT product) Is their feedback better? What are they still concerned about? Anything you can do to assure them that the product is exactly what they need?

2.) Is the client bottle necking the campaign by being cheap on ad spend or influencer promotion? I had a client who wasn’t willing to pay $1,000 for an influencer in their niche who was willing to review the product on their youtube channel with over 500,000 fans! I also had another client who got upset when we spent $20 on a particular ad and received only 1 sale from that ad. The product sold for $150! Make the expectations of your client clear and realistic and avoid dealing with crazy clients who expect unrealistic sales figures in unrealistic time spans or for unrealistic budgets!

3.) Were your changes really the right changes? If they were in fact shown to be mistaken and you cost your client a large amount of time and money to improve their product, you should probably consider changing professions!