3 steps for affordable and successful influencer collaborations for small-business owners

3 steps for affordable and successful influencer collaborations for small-business owners

The Power of Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses

Buzzkill Wines

In today’s world of social media, influencer marketing has become a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience. While some may think that this form of marketing is only accessible to companies with large budgets, small-business owners can also tap into this resource and achieve significant results. Molly Fedick, founder of Buzzkill Wines, saw her direct-to-consumer sales skyrocket by 327% when she started investing heavily in influencer marketing. Alexandra Shadrow, founder of Trailblaze Consulting, has also relied heavily on influencer marketing for her clients. Both Fedick and Shadrow shared their strategies for successful and affordable influencer collaborations, regardless of a small-business budget.

1. Focus on engagement and fit more than follower size

When looking for influencers to collaborate with, it’s important to focus on engagement and fit rather than simply chasing the biggest names in the industry. Shadrow recommends making a checklist of the criteria for your ideal influencer. She values a strong engagement rate over a big audience size. For example, an influencer with 10,000 followers and a 20% engagement rate has an active audience size of approximately 2,000 people, whereas an influencer with 100,000 followers and a 1% engagement rate only has 1,000 active followers. This opens up opportunities to work with more affordable micro-influencers who may have smaller but highly engaged audiences. Shadrow suggests using tools like the free Chrome extension UpDog to gauge an influencer’s engagement rate and aiming for at least 5% overall engagement on their pages. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the influencers chosen align with your industry and values. Oversaturation with brand deals may dilute your brand’s message, so selecting influencers who are genuinely interested in your product or service is crucial.

2. Understand the different ways you can offer value — and stay under budget

Paying influencers doesn’t always have to be a burden on your budget. Depending on your target community and the product or service you offer, there are cost-effective alternatives. Fedick suggests offering free products in exchange for promotion. As the founder of Buzzkill Wines, she reaches out to influencers who review non-alcoholic options or create mocktails, offering to send them free products. This approach has helped her achieve over 2 million impressions on TikTok channels alone. If you are venturing into paid influencer collaborations, Shadrow advises avoiding influencers with managers, as this usually increases the cost. It’s also essential to negotiate with influencers to find a price that aligns with your budget. Shadrow suggests emphasizing the potential for future collaborations and growth, as building an ongoing relationship benefits both parties. Additionally, if you don’t have the funds to pay influencers, you can explore alternative compensation methods, such as offering an affiliate link or even a small amount of equity in your business. These arrangements incentivize influencers to promote your brand with a genuine interest in its success.

Trailblaze Consulting

3. Create an ongoing, two-way relationship

Building authentic relationships with influencers is key to successful collaborations. Fedick recommends working closely with the influencers to understand what would excite their audiences, such as exclusive discounts or special perks. By letting influencers guide the content creation process, you ensure it resonates with their followers and maintains authenticity. Similarly, Shadrow provides influencers with guidelines and examples to help steer their content in the right direction. Once the influencers post about your brand, make sure to engage with their posts by liking, commenting, and reposting. This not only shows appreciation but also provides your business with valuable content to share with your own audience. By supporting influencers beyond a single collaboration, you foster long-term partnerships that yield more significant results. Fedick emphasizes the importance of focusing on a select group of influencers and developing deep relationships with them, rather than spreading resources thinly across multiple influencers. This way, your brand can benefit from consistent exposure and trust built over time.

Influencer marketing can be a game-changer for small businesses, allowing them to reach new audiences, build trust, and drive customer acquisition in a cost-effective way. By prioritizing engagement and fit, exploring alternative compensation methods, and fostering long-term relationships, small-business owners can harness the power of influencers without breaking the bank. So, regardless of your budget, consider leveraging the influence of others to elevate your brand and stand out in the competitive digital landscape.

This article is part of “Marketing for Small Business,” a series exploring the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs to earn new customers and grow their business.