It's time to take the blinders off to influencer marketing as it exists. The engagement numbers and effectiveness just aren't there anymore. No different than marketing channels and tactics since early advertising, your influencer marketing strategies must evolve as soon as the customer becomes privy to the "man behind the curtain". I mean let's not be naive, 96% of all consumers do not believe the advertising forced in front of them anyway, let alone influencers and their feed of 50 different products they are being paid to push onto them. In order for an influencer strategy to work today it is not about how large your shiny influencer star is but how authentic they are, whether or not your potential customer will trust them, and that their opinion about your products are sincere, as well as a believe that they actually use them.  I know what you are probably thinking and yes, by utilizing "micro" ambassadors (AKA influencers), more of them will be needed for the same reach. Correct, and it will take more work and man hours to effectively manage influencer campaigns. However, I would without a shadow of a doubt (and I know you would as well), take the new potential brand loyalists and amabassadors you will gain over the current potential customer's likes, shares, or one time purchase.  This is precisely why progressive brands are focusing on the seemingly more relatable and trustworthy "everyday brand ambassadors" to be the shiny new faces of their influencer strategies. Just a little example of this can be found on the Lulu Lemon's website. 
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When it comes to our personal lives most of us have a love/hate relationship with social media. You get a Facebook notification and what do you do? You tap that little notification bar on your phone and 10 minutes later you wake up in reality wishing you had that precious time back. Short of deleting the apps that provide you with such sleuthy and sophisticated stalking capabilities, it is hard to avoid the social platform world. For this same reason it is impossible to deny such highly engaging platforms as one of the most effective forms of marketing today. The 50 minutes a day average time each user spends on social channels is an astonishing number that cannot be ignored. There is no other advertising platform that allows you to segment down to your exact customer personas which gives the ad medium almost undivided attention. Because of this segmentation and the ability to follow your exact customer profile literally everywhere they go online, digital advertising as a whole generates the lowest cost per conversion of any advertising vessel in existence, with social media taking the cake. Social media advertising spend was projected to reach nearly $36 billion globally in 2017, with the U.S. and Canada spending the most and eclipsing $12.5 billion in 2016 (eMarketer). The average cost per thousand impressions (CPM) using traditional marketing can reach as high as $57 per CPM whereas social media falls in at less than $3 per CPM. Don't get me wrong, I get that in some industries ,like ours, it is essential to participate in traditional marketing channels like digital or print trade journals, PR activities, trade shows, etc. for a number of strategic and promotional reasons. The bottom line in regards to your full marketing strategy is that it aligns with your company's vision, promise, short and long term goals, and always focuses on the pain points and personas of your customer. There can be copious (hehe I said copious) amounts of marketing and advertising channel combinations that yield average results but normally only a few perfect fits for each brand. Due to the nature of reach, speed, traceability, and less financial investment, digital should be THE priority. I understand that for smaller brands in particular, trying to prioritize the most effective strategies for selling your products and building your brand in a way that creates the most revenue possible for your company, it is difficult to find the time to refine your online and social strategies. If you do not currently have a digital strategy in place for your brand, I implore you, make the time and start with a minimal investment. With such a huge range of social media platforms out there, how are we to know which is the best suited and most effective when it comes to creating a stellar digital marketing strategy? Read on for an overview of the top 10 social media platforms today, how to choose the best social media site for your business, and future predictions. The Ideal Social Fit While many marketing execs utilize a strategic mix of social platforms, it’s not necessary. If you are just getting started in doing social the right way (strategically) it's actually more important to start in bite size chunks and learn one platform thoroughly before moving on to the next. Keep in mind all the while that each social channel serves a different audience and a different purpose. On each channel, you will need to thoroughly learn how to properly engage and message to your ideal customer personas, utilize the platform, schedule posts, and never stop studying the data. Here are a few things to consider as you figure out which social media sites are ideal for your company or product brand: · Demographics: How old is your audience? How old is the audience of each social site you are considering? What about gender? Where do your audiences overlap? · Vertical & Category: Is there a particular platform that’s more geared towards your vertical or category within the natural supplement industry? · Content: Considering the messaging that targets your customers, what is the nature of most of your content and (how) do you expect this to change in the near future? · Product: How does your product “fit” with a given platform? A Few Social Trends Why are some social channels more popular than others? Let’s take a look at some up-and-coming trends that will drive the popularity of certain platforms. Stories & Livestreams As you're lying in bed at night scrolling through all of those posts, ever notice how more and more people are posting quickie videos on Instagram and Facebook and they only last for a day? Are you a SnapChat user or have you checked out Facebook Live? Welcome to the world of ephemeral content. Users are drawn to it because of it's authentic and intimate nature as it provides a window into a person or brand's “normal” life. It’s normally unfiltered and raw which is great for engagement and makes it a low cost investment. Instagram and Facebook stories are also examples of “micro-moments” the companies and brands can use to their advantage. Influencer Marketing Our beloved industry has been using "influencer marketing" before it was "influencer marketing." This isn't new for the nutraceutical space but the amount of tools, services, and marketing methodologies around the topic are. Influencer marketing is especially effective for Millennials and Gen Z. The idea behind it is that they gravitate toward and start following people they “love”. You are then able to capitalize on this digital crush and advertise via product placement, mentions, and other various forms of promotion from the specific influencer. This allows for a more organic experience and people feel more connected to your brand through their favorite personalities. There’s plenty of room for partnering with up-and-coming stars or just people you feel that your brand is connected to – just be sure to be transparent about it. The FTC recently sent a reminder to some major influencers about this in the interest of maintaining transparency. Hangouts: Generation Z is all about hanging out – but it’s not so much about chilling in the bedroom or at the mall anymore. Today all the kids are hanging out online – at least, that’s what the group app called Houseparty would like us to think. Whether or not your product fits this angle for branding reasons, you’ll want to bear the hangouts concept in mind for your ongoing strategy in the near future. Top 5 Sites 1. Facebook At over 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is showing no signs of slowing down. Innovative, newer features you may want to check out include a change in the algorithm that de-prioritizes business and encourages more interaction between friends and family. As a result of this change, Facebook ad costs also recently went up, but this still remains an extremely viable and affordable advertising option for most types of businesses. 2. Youtube YouTube not only has 1.5 billion monthly users but has demonstrated remarkable growth since its inception over 10 years ago. It’s the most popular website for good reason: people love video. They love making it; they love sharing it, they love watching it. There’s no sign of this platform slowing down soon, so if you’re an advertiser who hasn’t jumped on it, you should do so now. 3. Instagram 800 million people use Instagram monthly, and there are many reasons why. On a personal or professional level, it really has it all, save for a lot of room for words or backlinking in the text and comment area. Instagram is less for chatting and more for building followers, and even though the rules and algorithms do keep changing, it remains one of the most fun and least invasive (from ads or trolls) platforms around. 4. Twitter Though at first, they weren’t quite sure why, 330 million people are now using Twitter every month – and it’s a great place to have a snappy conversation about anything newsworthy, especially the controversial stuff. People love it because it’s consistent and direct – and they don’t love it because it’s an open platform for trolls and abuse. It’s basic and has not changed much over the years. 5. Snapchat 300 million people a month use the popular photo-sharing platform Snapchat. People like it because it’s very private and is also great for video calling. It’s not just for Teens or Millennials, but it does have a high proportion of younger users and was originally geared towards them. First, kudos for making it this far. And second, I hope you have a better understanding of social media platforms, use, and demographics. I also hope you are inspired enough from this information to put one foot forward and make something happen with your social presence and strategy. It will be well worth the effort if done strategically, I can assure you. Break a leg!
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As you are fully aware, with the nutraceuticals industry growing at rapid rates comes a larger amount of new branded products. You understand that launching a successful product is no longer about just being first to market but truly being first in class. Your mind is set, the team is in place, the company money spigot has been turned to the on position. It's time to begin creating your undeniably best in class, amazingly unique, crazy on-target, dead to rights category-correct product that leaves no customer questioning the value it brings them. I, my friend, have the utmost confidence in you - you astonishing purveyor of nutraceutical goods…you've got this. In the Cold You get that your product won't be successful unless you separate yourself from the competition. You deduce that creating a similar product as someone already in the marketplace is just digging your product's own grave before it sees the light of day. You realize that your customer will buy your product because it fills a void and provides that unique unicorn-like capability reaching a pain point they may not even know they have, while the rest of the competition fights over the scraps with their eerily similar products and brand messaging thereof. Your competitive analysis skills are on point as you document the competitor’s price, target customers, marketing, and value claims. Through this process you are able to write a road map for setting yourself apart by selling your products at a premium price, reaching the unreached customer, adopting early marketing methodologies and platforms, and not just making claims on your label, but supporting them with over the top scientific studies. Knowing full well that if your target customer personas are off, chances are your endeavors will fail. You ensure you leave no rock unturned when segmenting out the market and understanding where your customers live within that space. You gather a fully comprehensive understanding of who they are, their similar characteristics, why they need your product, feasibility of reaching the needs of the customer, any obstacles to hurdle, what sales channels they frequent, and how to relevantly message to them. Man you are soooo good at this. You are heads and tails above your competition already as you are allowing the data from your acquisition strategy to inform you on the direction and possible ingredients for your product formulation. You are also able to find an ingredient that will assist you in separating from the herd in your marketing and advertising efforts providing your product a more lucrative future. Getting Warmer You know there are a plethora of existing categories including the big ones - vitamins, weight loss, sports nutrition, meal replacement, etc. However you actually realize in order to hit your target customer, non-traditional action is required. You decide on a much less saturated emerging category to ensure your product will experience quicker growth. Growth that leads to that big fat bonus check, right? You also understand that no matter the decision at this juncture you would still need to find a way for your brand to stand apart, remain properly targeted, and is categorized for amazing results. Hey, great idea by the way, to go ahead and conduct surveys and focus groups providing more education and insight for creating that formulation recipe for success. Ouch! You Are on Fire! You know that focusing on only effective acquisition strategies will provide you with lower overhead and much higher profitability. You also know that no matter how diligent you are, you may get a few things wrong in the strategy and are ready to pivot at any time using lean business methodologies; build, measure, learn. Being the connoisseur of fine acquisition strategies that you are, you realize it's essential to utilize a variety of traditional sales and marketing as well as digital omni-channel marketing efforts to provide a tasty smorgasbord of lead generation and customer acquisition. Ooh, I like where your head's at; you're thinking maybe even a dash of guerilla marketing? Go on with your bad self! I would also congratulate you on an amazingly thorough customer persona and competitive analysis to ensure all future marketing efforts hit the mark, speaking to the proper customer in the right tone for generating interest in your product. Well done my friend. Just thought we'd also mention that as part of this acquisition strategy. Manufacturing Real Confidence Marketing, R&D, and formulation teams are all working hand in hand with no battle of project lead ownership or who's wrong and who's right between them. And drum roll please…. You have decided on the perfect product. Congratulations, you're like a third of the way there. You reach out to the extremely long list of reputable, quality, and compliance-conscious manufacturers you can find. After a little professional schmoozing you have your pricing structure where you are comfortable. Being a veteran of this game, you didn't elect the cheapest manufacturer but found one you felt in tune with culture-wise, had an extensive background of the exact services you needed out of them, and at the end of the day was the best fit for your company and product business model. As seasoned as you are, one thing you've learned is that multi-tasking your marketing strategy efforts during manufacturing discussions is essential to avoid any negative outcomes from a rushed launch. So you basically have most of your strategy complete by the time all those crazy smart formulators and science types have the manufacturing down pat. This Brand is on Fire! You understand that a highly intentional omni-channel strategy (traditional marketing strategy; trade pubs, trade shows, print ads, etc. and digital strategy; website, brand videos, social and influencer marketing, etc.) is absolutely, positively, irrefutably, imperative for your product to have a successful launch in today's marketing environment. Using the data and insights from your acquisition strategy you will create a fully comprehensive omni-channel marketing strategy destined for world domination. Guiding your team through this process has been an amazing experience and the outcome of defining the exact target customers of your product will manifest itself inside of your marketing and advertising messaging in a way that speaks to them and creates astonishing engagement. Your label is clear, regulatory responsible and the package design is so refreshingly different from the rest that it literally jumps off the webpage and retail shelves. All of which will create record sales for your company, a gigantic raise is in your future. Hip hip hooray! Oh yeah, almost forgot, this is not your first goat rodeo so you haven't neglected to button down all of those legal hatches by discussing with your experienced business attorney so you're not rewarded in the middle of a successful launch with a nice profit draining lawsuit. Carpe Diem Being the savvy product commercialization exec you are (some might even call a Guru of sorts), before launching your product online or on the shelves you have thoroughly crafted an amazing fulfillment plan that will guide your product’s distribution and allow for more effortless order fulfillment. Whether you are working with your manufacturer to assist with these efforts or flying solo, take a very thorough look at all of your options in order to save those hard earned dollars and provide the best customer service possible. Alrighty then, it's now time to sell to those eager customers chomping at the bit to get ahold of a bottle of that good stuff. (This hunger for your product is coming from all of your digital and social pre-launch marketing and advertising efforts, am I right?!) Ok, that was a breeze. Everything is set, you are ready to start selling oodles of your new product to all of these recent digitally engaged brand tribe members and start creating new ones. With a few confidence building emails to your leadership team passed down to the rest of your amazing employees, a couple of Starbucks sessions, and a completely non-hostile last minute launch meeting, your traditional, online, influencer, and social strategies blast off. Dolla, Dolla, Bills Ya'll Chi-ching, chi-ching, chi-ching! Sounds of products being sold and revenue being generated into this new money making machine that is your amazingly branded and heavily strategy-backed nutraceutical product powerhouse. I guess a congratulations is in order…if you would like to share this amazing experience or chat with me personally about it, I'm all ears.
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