The Foodpreneur #020
Navigating the Influencer Marketing Landscape for Heat-and-Eat Meal Subscription Brands
They’re called “influencers” for a reason—and if you’re able to connect your business with the right personalities, you’ll engage a new audience of target consumers who trust what their favorite content creators so much that a nod from them is all it takes to drive conversion from key audiences.
So how to leverage these powerhouse partners? First, it’s important to understand the potential benefits and what, specifically, you hope to gain from synching with an influencer. From there you’ll want to narrow your list based on audiences, availability, and budget, with an eye on building long-term relationships over time. Start here:
#1. Understanding the Benefits of Partnering with Social Media Influencers
Before you start exploring and engaging potential partners, it’s important to understand the benefits of influencer marketing—and what, specifically, you want to gain from these relationships. While some brands are looking to, simply, align with an influential voice in their pace, others are looking to build awareness for a new launch or to accelerate impact of a seasonal campaign. Some other reasons to tap influencers?
- Enhanced Visibility: Influencers have established followers who trust their opinions. By partnering with them, you expose your brand to a wider audience, increasing your visibility and potential customer base.
- Increased Credibility: When a respected influencer vouches for your product, it lends credibility to your brand. This can be especially crucial for newer or lesser-known businesses.
- Added Engagement: Influencers know how to engage their audience. Their endorsement can lead to increased interaction on your social media profiles, driving more traffic to your website.
- Targeted Marketing: Influencers often have niche audiences. Partnering with the right influencer allows you to tap into a specific demographic, ensuring your marketing efforts are more focused and potentially more effective.
- Cost-Effective Advertising: Compared to traditional advertising channels, influencer marketing can be more affordable while delivering a higher ROI, especially if you work with micro-influencers.
#2. How to Choose the Right Influencers
With an eye on how you see influencers fitting into your overarching marketing campaigns, the next step is to look for potential talent that aligns. To do that consider:
- Relevance: Ensure the influencer’s content aligns with your brand. Their followers should be interested in heat-and-eat meals and a healthy lifestyle.
- Engagement Rate: Look beyond follower count. An influencer with a smaller, more engaged audience can be more valuable than one with a large but disinterested following.
- Authenticity: Choose influencers who are genuine and transparent. Their endorsement will come across as more trustworthy to their followers.
- Professionalism: Ensure the influencer is professional and reliable. Check their previous partnerships for consistency and quality.
- Cost: Understand the influencer’s fee structure. Some may accept free products in exchange for a review, while others will require payment.
#3. Finding Influencers—on a Budget
As you’re exploring potential partners, be mindful that some influencers—especially more recognizable names—can command significant fees for a single post. Some of the biggest A-listers and influencers with high engagement rates can get $100,000, $200,000, even $1 million for a single mention.
That said, there are plenty of rock-solid influencers who charge thousands—even hundreds—of dollars for their work, and often deliver high-quality, engaging content that delivers significant engagement and conversions. If you aren’t looking to blow your entire marketing budget on a single tweet, consider:
- Micro-Influencers: If you’re working with a tight budget, consider micro-influencers (those with 1,000 to 100,000 followers). They often have high engagement rates and are more affordable than larger influencers.
- Local Influencers: Local influencers can be a great option for small businesses. They have a dedicated local following and can help drive traffic to your business if you offer local delivery or pickup options.
- Utilize Influencer Platforms: There are various platforms like AspireIQ, BuzzSumo, or Influencity that can help you find influencers within your budget.
- Direct Outreach: Don’t be afraid to reach out directly to influencers you’re interested in partnering with. A personalized message expressing why you think they’d be a good fit for your brand can go a long way.
- Trade Deals: If budgets are tight, consider offering your product in exchange for a review or shoutout. Ensure you’re clear about expectations and deliverables to avoid misunderstandings.
All of this said, while the potential benefits are significant, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Not every influencer partnership will result in a massive boost in sales or followers. Influencer marketing should be viewed as a component of your overall marketing strategy, not a magic bullet. Additionally, building a successful partnership takes time. Influencers receive numerous partnership requests, so standing out and building a genuine relationship is key. But if you’re willing to put in the time, consideration, and commitment, developing a robust partnership with meaningful influencers can accelerate your business awareness, engagement, and growth fast.