One thing is sure for 2020, and that is that influencer marketing is here to stay. Influencer marketing spends continued to rise throughout 2019, and there is absolutely no sign of it doing anything other than accelerating further throughout 2020, Instagram is likely to remain the preferred platform for influencer marketing, but TikTok may take some of the market share. I wanted to put together a guide on celebrity and influencer gifting as our members are always asking me how to gift to celebrities and influencers. The reason for this is simple; the general public are bombarded with thousands of adverts every day, however studies have shown the most memorable ads are ones where a celebrity or influencer is endorsing the product and influencer marketing is getting bigger daily. Hence whatever business you’re in, if you sell anything you need to be aligning yourselves with celebrities and influencers and gifting is an affordable way to get great reach and brand authority.
With the rise of social media, brands can get their products in front of celebrities and influencers through gifting, producing a great response at little expense. Gifting products in exchange for mentions digitally, whether that be an Instagram post or a mention on Facebook, is a hugely popular way for influencers and brands to collaborate. Take photo printing app Lalalab; they generated 4,500 social posts and reached 70 million people in just one year. How? Because they gifted their products to influencers.
We wanted to make influencer marketing SUPER simple, and for users to be able to reach influencers SUPER easily, therefore we have created an incredible tool which allows brands to email out to thousands of celebrities and influencers in seconds. Here’s how it works:
- You write an email campaign, this is an email about your product and why the celebrity or influencer will love it
- You select a group to target e.g. beauty influencers (our platform provides all of the contacts for this group and you can refine within a group like beauty influencers that live in London who have 50k-500k followers)
- You hit send and it reaches all of these influencers. Yes, you get to reach thousands of influencers in seconds, what’s clever is our platform inserts the influencer name, and allows you to insert the brand name, so each email appears personalised.
- You can also create your own lists and then email all the contacts on them
- You get responses directly from the influencers and can choose who you work with
You can also search by audience insight and get a detailed breakdown by category for celebrities and influencers audience, this is key as if you want to work with a particular celebrity or influencer you need to know that their audience is relevant to you. In simple terms if you are a travel company you need to see what percentage of your celebrity or influencers audience is interested in travel.
Here’s where it all happens.
If you want to get great response rates then here are few things to help you on your way:
1) Check their social media feeds and get to know the celebrity and influencer
Get to know the celebrity or influencer that you are interested in gifting to, that way you can send the right products that they will love and will be relevant to them. As well as what they like, look at what their problems are and how your brand can solve them. When Estée Lauder first started out she gifted celebrities – the company is now worth billions, with Kendall Jenner the current face of it. Other smaller brands, such as Rodial, gifted to Kylie Jenner and she then Instagrammed the product to her millions of followers, and sales went through the roof, from just the cost of one product.
We’ve just launched a really unique tool where you can compare the social following of different celebrities, in the form of growth charts, so you can see which celebrities have risen the most that week in terms of following. You can also compare celebrities in terms of social rank and brand influence.
Influencers now represent new opportunities for brands to reach consumers through channels that they trust. The attitudes of consumers have changed. However, the celebrity pull is also still strong and represents some of the most memorable campaigns and adverts. I believe both areas need to be explored, there is no set rule as to which is more effective, as they both do different things and will create different results amongst different businesses. The key is in identifying the correct ambassadors and endorsers for your business.
2) Look at their social media following
Our platform allows you to compare the social following of different celebrities, in the form of growth charts, so you can see which celebrities have risen the most that week in terms of following. You can also compare celebrities in terms of social rank and brand influence. In the case of Daniel Price and Jonny Sitton, whose business My1stYears.com specialises in gift hampers for babies, this means those influencers who have recently had children. They chose to approach Dannii Minogue, to whom they sent a hamper after the birth of her son Ethan. The e-commerce site has since secured £5 million by growing its celebrity clientele, with the likes of Dannii, Binky Felstead and Elton John.
Daniel and Jonny’s business was itself in extreme infancy. Dannii loved the product and endorsed the brand. ‘Dannii Minogue was great’, says Daniel, ‘She loved the gift, talked about it, even uploading photos’. After sending a hamper to Beyoncé and Jay Z after the birth of their baby girl, Blue Ivy, Jonny and Daniel were invited onto The Alan Titchmarsh Show to discuss their products – PR that money just couldn’t buy.
In terms of endorsement, the products impressed Elton John when their hamper full of personalised goodies was chosen to be gifted to him and his partner David Furnish by Heart FM, when their son Zachary arrived. The contents included a teddy bear embroidered with ‘Tiny Dancer’. Elton’s subsequent enthusiastic reaction to the hamper was captured and has proved especially valuable to the company. As always, make sure you approach the right celebrity or influencer on social media – the worst thing you can do is to try and link with celebrities just because of who they are, and try to get a celebrity that is totally inappropriate for your brand. Endorsement can also be gained via social media. Many celebrities and influencers will tweet about a product or service to their followers – for a price. While this is still likely to cost thousands of pounds, it is more affordable than a traditional advertising campaign. Agencies such as Adly.com specialise in creating Twitter and Facebook campaigns using celebrities and influencers.
3) Ask for something small
For example, directly asking a celebrity or influencer to use your product in public is a large and perhaps costly request, but you could mention that if they didn’t want to do this they could do something smaller, like tweet about it. Gifting influencers allows brands to provide what consumers crave which is authenticity and trust. If you can get them to comply with this small request, they may be more likely to follow up a larger request at a later date.
4) Gift celebrities and influencers via mail
Start-up fashion watch company RumbaTime mass mailed their watches to style-conscious celebs and influencers, making them $1 million in sales in their first year. Celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Jaime Pressly were snapped in the brightly coloured wrist candy.
5) Consider targeting micro-influencers
You don’t have to aim for the influencers with the most followers. Micro-influencers can be people with between 5k and 100k followers, and they tend to accept free products over payments. Another advantage is that they’re more likely to engage with loyal audiences as opposed to the audiences that huge celebrities with millions of followers might have. Whilst reach is great, its actually the engagement that is often the most relevant.
What is a macro influencer vs micro influencer
In simple terms, a macro influencer has a large global following, whilst a micro influencer holds a smaller, often local following. Normally a micro influencer is anyone who has between 10,000 and 500,000 followers on their social media channels, and a macro influencer is anyone with figures greater than these.
However, the key thing to consider it not the numbers but the level of engagement. Micro-influencers can be found in almost any sector, our platform categorises these influencers into focused groups, such as beauty, fashion, health etc.
How can micro influencers help brands? Micro influencers spend all of their time building up their following and not necessarily much time monetising on that following, therefore not only do they generally put in a lot of work to ensure they offer the brands as much value as possible but they also have a highly engaged audience who trust them and are not used to being constantly sold to by them. Often the larger the following is the lower the engagement rate is, therefore brands can benefit from hiring a group of micro influencers, or a combination of micro-influencers and celebrities to raise the ROI of a campaign.
6) Make sure your letter or package stands out
It must look professional. Perception is everything – send it with a little gift if needs be. Also, express delivery makes it look like you really wanted to get your product to them. Be direct and brief in your approach.
7) Find out when a celebrity or influencer’s birthday is
I urge you to try it and I’m confident you will have success. We also list all celebrity birthdays on The Handbook, so try timing in gifts around this, and see the results for yourself. Send a nice personalised card with the gift, and follow up too, to see if they liked it. Small details go a long way.
8) Send photos of other celebrities and influencers using the product
If this isn’t possible, include a professional photo of yourself as this helps build rapport. It’s a small step that could make a big difference. Including this‚ ‘social proof’ is one way to distinguish your request from similar ones the influencer might receive.
Whilst you’re waiting for one celebrity or influencer to get back to you, contact others. The more celebrities and influencers you write to, the better your chance of an outcome. If you have not heard back, you can always follow up. Additionally, the more tweets or direct messages you send, the more likely you are to get noticed. Persevere, but don’t be annoying.
9) Customise your product for a celebrity or influencer
Celebrities and influencers are more likely to wear a product if it is customised – it may take longer but you will reap the rewards. For example, ClaireaBella gifted bags to Charlotte Crosby from Geordie Shore and Binky from Made in Chelsea.
Juicy Couture is another great example of a brand that grew from nothing. The owners Gela and Pamela set up the company with $200 and turned it into a multi-million-pound business, with the likes of Madonna and Paris Hilton frequently wearing their products. The growth was largely down to celebrity gifting and sending out personalised gifts. They sent out a personalised hoodie to Madonna and it went all around the world, so they then sent them to Cameron Diaz with ‘Cameron’ on, and one to Drew Barrymore with ‘Mrs Green’ on, as she was married to ‘Tom Green’ at the time. Any time someone got married the business women sent them personalised tracksuits.
Then there’s Burberry; the renowned company credited 8% rise in sales to £895 customised ponchos loved by A-list celebrities. They sold out of their ponchos from the autumn/winter 2015 collection, after celebrities including Alexa Chung, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sienna Miller, (and many more), were seen wearing them.
10) Create a niche product
Some of you may feel you’re a real expert in skin products or dating or weight loss. But the money is not in the submarket. To make your product stand out and get noticed you might want to consider choosing a niche. What can you offer people that is special and different? The goal is to carve out a unique spot. People often jump into an existing niche, and if they are the fifth or sixth person in that niche then the waters are already muddy. I suggest you choose your own new niche product. Carve out your new spot and offer them something really different that no one else is likely to have given them or spoken to them about.
11) Give people a NEW opportunity
When you look at every successful leader out there, they offer their followers new ways and new opportunities, if you are selling anything don’t sell improved offers they are harder to sell, instead, sell new opportunities because people will get excited about them. Improvement offers are associated with pain, someone may have tried weight loss, or internet dating before, it didn’t work, so an improvement offer is associated with that same pain and difficulty, it reminds them of previous bad decisions, whereas new opportunity is a new discovery something that will be more likely shared, and as it’s new there is more chance people will share it, as they will believe it gives them an increase in status.
12) Create belief and sell the transformation
Everything comes down to one thing- belief. Belief creates the customer, belief creates the results. To be successful in business you must persuade people to believe in what you are doing, and a great way to do this is through the art of honesty and storytelling, don’t be afraid to share with your audience. You don’t have to be perfect, be real and they will identify with you and want you to succeed. I always tell my sales team don’t sell people the features, sell the transformation. For example, if you own a clothing brand and are selling a pair of leggings don’t talk about the colour, the fabric or the texture, talk about how this product will transform your butt like nothing has ever done before!
13) Find your niche and market yourself differently
Don’t gift the same products that everyone is likely to be gifting or go after the same market as everyone else, and don’t market in the same way as everyone else, if you do this you’ll only ever get marginal competitive advantage if you are better than them. Find your niche e.g. if your area of expertise is nutrition don’t just be another nutritionist but hone in on an area that you may specialise in, for example nutrition for fertility or create a nutrition plan for those with skin problems. Then become the number one expert in your field at this and think outside of the box, market your business differently, don’t be the same.
14) Approach a celebrity or influencer in person
This can be a tricky one and may sound scary- the last thing you want is to be taken away by security! So, be respectful and know your boundaries! Just being photographed with a celebrity or influencer can do wonders for your reputation even if it’s not directly related to the product. Find out where celebrities and influencers will be appearing, for example club nights, book signings or charity events. It is possible to find out where celebrities and influencers may be from The Handbook ‘What’s On’ page, here. Alternatively, invite the celebrity to stop by your operation and pick out clothes they like for example. Whilst this might be tricky to do, if they do end up coming you can use this method to yield a long-term business relationship with the celebrity or influencer.
15) Product placement at gifting suites or product placement at high profile events
These gifting suites are often organised by PR or gifting companies and you will have a ‘booth’ at the event or place your products in attendee gift bags. These often require hefty fees (thousands of pounds) to participate and anyone who walks into the gifting suite can pick up a free sample of your product. This means you can often get a photo of a celebrity or an influencer holding or using your product, but the disadvantage is that you don’t have control over who that is. The advantage is that the celebrity is “working”, so they’ll be in a mood to interact with others, so you’ll be more likely to receive results when approaching them than if they were dropping the kids off at school, say.
While celebrity gifting can be great for PR, not all products are suited for this. In order for your efforts to pay off, here are the types of products that work:
- Apparel (clothing, jewellery, etc.) that the celebrity can be photographed wearing
- Beauty Products
- High End Liqueurs
- National chains dealing in spas, massage, manicures and beauty treatments
- Children’s items, like toys and clothes
- Baby products, like strollers and carrier
In honour of the Golden Globe Awards on 8th January, BGK and The Secret Room Events held their annual gift lounges in honour of the nominees and presenters. Accessories included watches by Jiusko USA, sunglasses by Drew Barrymore’s Flower Eyewear and vegan shoes by Guilty Soles. LifeCell Skin Care handed out their anti-ageing products while Barbar Hair tools debuted its new mini cordless at-iron that comes with a USB port for easy, on-the-go charging. Tweezerman International presented guests with his and her gift sets including slant tweezers, eyelash curlers, shaving brushes and nail clippers. Celebs and influencers could also get their brows shaped on the spot.
Additionally, get your product into goody bags, such as The Glamour Woman of the Year Awards. More often than not, if you provide products, you get invitations to attend the event. You can view all high-profile events in our diary. Celebrities are treated to gifting suites and swag on a regular basis. During Oscars week for example they have events such as the Red Carpet Gift Lounge, Jewellery Suite, Pre-Oscar Gifting Suite and more. Whilst getting your product into the Oscars goody bag is probably the end goal when it comes to advertising your product, getting your gift into goody bags at celebrity-attended events is a recommended way forward. The celebrities can then snap photos holding your products and you can post them to your social media, or ask if they will.
What’s the cost and lead time?
To get your product at a gift suite or event there’s a range in cost, anywhere from £500-£3000 per each gift bag item or basket. If you want to appear inside the gift suites where you can have a booth display and a representative on hand to interact with the celebrities the cost can run anywhere from £5,000 and up. The cost of main sponsorship is considerably higher at around £50,000 and up.
When is the best time to get in touch with vendors?
If you’re interested in say the Academy Awards, then March is a good time to start getting in touch with vendors. The Golden Globes takes place in January, and most of these spots are sold out by the Summer time.
Why is it worth getting my product in gift bags?
Having your items selected can really boost business in the following ways:
- The chance of a high-profile celebrity or influencer being photographed using or wearing the product
- Have celebrities becoming future customers
- Posting on social media relating to your product at the event
- Mentions in media releases
- Mentions in the press that your product was selected to be in the gift bag
- Opportunity for celebrity spokesman or endorsement and to engage the celebrity with our products you may have e.g. you could include a note with your product such as ‘We would love to introduce you to the other lines in our collection, please do drop me an email and we would love to send you some more products.’
What sort of events work?
There are loads of different events that would work, our events section has a ton of great awards, all which generally have gifting. Key events include BAFTAS, Emmy awards, Grammy awards, Actors Guild Awards, Toronto Film Festival and the Oscars. Don’t do just one event and then give up if you don’t get the exposure you want. The better the product and the more suited it is to the event the greater the chance that you will get the response you are after.
What sort of products work in goodie bags?
If you want to get free PR, then your product should have a novelty factor that piques press interest, for example the Vampire Breast Lift® cream in the bags of Oscar attendees is a case in point. Admittedly, it’s dive cult to come up with a bizarre plastic surgery procedure at home. However, you can always take a common household object and sell it at a 2,000% mark-up. This year’s goodie bag also included a roll of $275 luxury loo paper. Past Grammy gift bags for example have contained products and experiences such as A set of silk faux mink lashes from Inception of Beauty, Private mixology class from Liquor Lab in New York City, Old Spice Red grooming products, Color changing lipstick from Blush & Whimsy, Pinhole gum rejuvenation treatment by Dr. John Chao and a ton more.
17) Consider gifting your products to celebrity assistants
Sometimes taking the indirect route can work – contact the celebrity’s assistant. It’s the assistant who is likely to write back via email etc – these people are the gate keepers and the celebrity communicates with them every day. Some celebrities even end up in personal relationships with their assistant, for example, Kristen Stewart and her assistant Alicia Cargile.
Grab their attention; this is usually the rest thing the celebrity and agent will read. It’s important to get them interested and get them out of their current environment or activity. For example:
I am Elly Stancliffe, founder of The Handbook and I want to officially welcome you to my world. About 10 years ago, I started my first online business and this hobby became my obsession and business.
Relate it to them early on
Who/position: Who are you? Introduce yourself very briefly. Show/tell why they should they listen to you.
What: What do you have? Introduce your product or offer briefly. It’s important not to just go on about the opportunity; show how you deliver value.
Why: Why do you need it? Explain the benefits of your offer and ideally relate it to them.
I read your interview in xxx magazine, where you said you have dry skin, or you don’t wear make-up. If you’re struggling with ‘dry skin’ then I would love you to try this because it will help …
I read your great interview in xxx on xxx and I’ve got a question for you
I’ve got this great face cream that’s going to really radiate your skin
I read your interview in [xxx] magazine, where you said you have dry skin, or you don’t wear make-up. If you’re struggling with ‘dry skin’ then I would love you to try this because I think it will help.
18. Ask for something small – If you like it let me know and I would love to keep sending you more.
The process is about sending a great product that’s going to add great value to someone. So instead of screaming for attention, you attract attention by giving value before there is a hint of asking for anything in return. Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers. Giving something is a whole lot easier than trying to pay for promotion, throughout this entire sequence you’re layering in all the mental triggers. Since you’re sending a free gift, you will hit the reciprocity trigger and by showing your knowledge of the topic and your position, therefore, you hit the authority trigger. The more you reach out to them, the trust will become stronger between you and that person resulting in more feedback and hopefully their thank you’s will help build a community and endorsement.
Instagram remains the preferred platform that influencers will use to mention products . Recent WFA studies showed that all 34 multinational marketers in its study used Instagram for influencer marketing. Facebook followed at 85%, then youtube 67% , followed by snapchat and twitter at 44% and 33% . Predictions for 2020 are that Instagram w ill remain the preferred platform, but TikTok will also start to take some of their market share.
19) Offer the celebrity or influencer a discount with your product
Influencers won’t want to market your products to their audience it they’re really expensive, and they will also want your audience to feel that they’ve got a great deal through following them, therefore as well as gifting to them, offer a discount to their members when they mention the product , thus making the offer as appealing to the audience as possible. Not only will the influencer get a better response from the post but you’ll generate a lot more potential customers
20) Run a competition
Whilst sending a gift , you could also consider running a competition, we run competitions the whole time on The Handbook and they are always seriously popular, you can use this exact same principle , get in touch with influencers and offer a giveaway of your product to their followers, and then get them to announce the winner to their followers, not only do competitions create great hype, but it’s an amazing way of getting influencers to align themselves with your brand, get your product seen by their followers, and reach loads of people for nominal output , hopefully you will also reach loads of new customers, who haven’t won the product, but you know they are interested in the product, and so you could follow up with an offer to them. We do this on The Handbook and it works amazingly well.
It’s an automatic win for all:
- The influencer gets to please his/her audience by giving away something for free
- You get seen by the influencer’s audience
- Your product or brand gets the awareness it deserves without having to pay big collaboration fees
Once all the gifts have been sent out and the celebrities and influencers you are targeting have posted, keep that relationship going, and they are more likely to mention you again, thank them for posting the piece, and consider sending something else, or when you have a new product tell them about it, which will make them want to continue working with you past a one-off campaign. Bare in mind, as your business and your brand grows, so will the micro-influencers that you’ve been reaching out to.
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