Blog Post

How to Co-Create with Influencers – 4 Key Questions to Ask

March 3, 2023

Influencers with their own products/brands are commanding the attention of consumers and may be steering them away from traditional brands. When MrBeast opened his first physical restaurant in The American Dream Mall, 2,000 people waited overnight to attend the opening and thousands more were on hand that day to just get a glimpse of YouTube’s richest creator.

Growing his following from nothing in 2012 (when he was just eleven years old), he has now amassed 109 million YouTube subscribers and another 82 million across his five other channels and launched MrBeast Burger in 2020 as a virtual restaurant chain where burgers are made in existing restaurant kitchens. Now that he’s moving into physical locations, his growing popularity should be setting off alarm bells at established burger joints.

MrBeast may be one of the most well-known, but he is certainly not the only influencer intentionally building an audience and creating fertile ground to launch their own brands. In fact, his manager is teaming up with investment firm TCG to find creators who can replicate MrBeast in other categories. It’s getting easier for influencers to do this and established brands, both big and small, should be paying attention. Influencers have two big advantages when creating their own product lines: brand name recognition and followers. Brands would be foolish to underestimate this.

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Even micro-influencers (those with less than 100,000 followers) are getting in the game. Jennifer Borget turned her love of blogging about free movie checklists and reviews on her Cherish 365 Community where she discusses raising kids, diversity, and fun ways to connect with family, into launching a Movie Night Journal. “People were often asking me questions about our weekly family movie nights and how we organized it so it felt natural to create a product that could help other families bring the same tradition into their homes. I’m a year in from launching my first product and it’s going really well,” she says.

Smart retailers are partnering with influencers who can bring their audiences with them. For example, Walmart recently launched a creator platform where influencers can choose products and sell them along with their own through the channel. Amazon’s storefronts make it easy and seamless for influencers to source products, put their own name/logo on them and build sales. Others, like are taking it even further by allowing influencers to set up a store, browse thousands of products to curate (everything from hoodies to cups to shoes), integrate with Shopify, Etsy, etc., and then drop ship for them. Influencers don’t even have to take inventory. The retailer does it for them, thus reducing the risks and costs.

Traditional brands can take months or even years to get a new product to market, but influencers don’t have the same constraints. They can react to what their followers are interested in and move fast to get it produced. Other advantages they have going for them:

  1. Brand Recognition from building their own authentic brand.
  2. Built In Base of Customers from their loyal audience/following
  3. Successful Marketers/Communicators with a proven track record of creating compelling content

Most brands spend a considerable amount of their budget on the above three elements. If you think strategically about conversion rates, the biggest costs for product marketing are: 1) building a brand and 2) customer acquisition. Influencers hired by brands can serve as endorsers of the brand by co-creating products and giving them skin in game. And brands can get the most value out of the relationship beyond organic awareness by seeing them as great content creators. How else to feed all the social channels owned by brands?

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In addition, influencers can more easily and flexibly expand their brands. By bringing influencers in to help co-create a product line, they can tap their audience and serve them up questions and get instantaneous responses. Think about the huge time and budget saver this can be. On the other side of the equation, there are benefits to the influencer when collaborating with a brand:

  1. The expertise on how to create products
  2. The financing of inventory
  3. Liability for product issues.

To get the maximum benefit, brands need to ask the following questions before co-creating with influencers:

  1. Is the influencer aligned with your brand values?
  2. Can the influencer credibly talk about the product/topic?
  3. Does the influencer have a loyal base of followers who could become new customers?
  4. Does the influencer have a tone that is consistent with your brand?

Instead of paying spokespeople/celebrities to push products, brands need to lock in relationships with influencers and co-create with them. The ultimate benefit: brand alignment and a firm relationship associated with your own brand, as well as a built-in audience – one composed of fans who really care about that influencer.

This article was originally publish on February 13, 2023 on MARTECHSERIES.

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