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The rise of influencers

May 1, 2024

Over the past two decades—and even the past two years—tactics used across advertising and marketing campaigns have evolved. 

But throughout myriad changes, one thing continues to remain a constant: people still sell products.  

Consumers still yearn to be reached in a relatable way, and over the years, the right face, voice or personality has made this possible. People relate to people—and in a modern, technologically forward advertising space, this is where influencers make their money. 

Over the past few years, The Martin Group has utilized the power of influencer marketing to reach audiences interested in everything from sneakers to string cheese. It’s a tactic that’s proven very effective for a variety of campaigns. But now, years into the utilization and evolution of influencers, many businesses and consumers still don’t understand their function. 

Here’s an overview of the dawn and development of the modern-day influencer; how The Martin Group has come to utilize their services as an effective tactic for our clients; and how their role could evolve in the coming years.

In the beginning

Influencers can be tracked back to celebrities and athletes (and according to some sources, ancient Rome). The idea was rooted in brands using these public figures to promote products, services, and events to their dedicated fan bases. This type of marketing was usually promoted through traditional media such as television spots, magazines and newspapers, radio, and other paid media sources. 

But with Paula Abdul dancing in a pair of L.A. Gears, Pepsi placing their new branding in the hands of Cindy Crawford, or Pizza Hut appearing on the set of “Wayne’s World,” brands found a new way to reach customers—and plenty of success doing it.

The evolution of influencer marketing

In the early 2000s, this approach in marketing began to shift when blogs and Internet platforms such as YouTube gained popularity. YouTube played a pivotal role in the rise of influencers. Content creators known as “YouTubers” gained massive followings by sharing vlogs (video blogs) focused on their everyday lives, tutorials, and other types of enticing and relatable content. Figures such as Jenna Marbles, Shane Dawson, and Jeffree Star set the stage for creators and influencers alike. They walked, so Alix Earle could run.

Soon, everyday individuals started following these bloggers and vloggers for things such as personality, expertise in a specific niche (i.e., food bloggers), and relatability. Their content became addicting and viewers spent more and more time consuming it. Once social channels like Instagram, Twitter, and now TikTok gained wild popularity, influencer marketing evolved further and began to skyrocket. These social channels provided influencers and creators a space to reach an even wider audience, and brands began to realize the benefit of collaborating with influencers with a large, ever-growing, and engaged audience.

The Martin Group and influencers

On behalf of a variety of clients, The Martin Group has engaged with influencers across all different niches, ranging from micro- to macro-influencers. These influencers and creators have yielded the opportunity for clients to increase sales, and have amplified brand awareness to establish stronger relationships with consumers. 

Influencer marketing can be daunting for a brand to take on—and we know this. With our experience and expertise in the field, we understand the intricacies of identifying the proper influencers; drafting and negotiating contracts; and executing a campaign. This knowledge has helped us guide clients through optimal utilization of influencer marketing, and allow each to achieve their goals more efficiently. Over the past few years, The Martin Group has used our expertise to:

  • Achieve an effective campaign – Whether to achieve massive brand awareness or start a conversation with micro-influencers, we provide strategic guidance and develop influencer marketing campaigns custom fit to a client’s goals, objectives, and budget.
  • Engage with the right influencers – We have developed an extensive network of influencers in a wide variety of niches. This allows us to better connect with the right influencers (who we likely already have a relationship with), and minimize the outreach and negotiating process. 
  • Manage and execute an influencer campaign – Managing an influencer campaign can be time-consuming, and many clients don’t have the resources or know-how to take it on. We have the ability and capabilities to manage a campaign from start to finish.
  • Follow regulations and legal considerations – There are a slew of regulations surrounding everything from intellectual property and ownership rights to advertising standards and disclosure requirements. We ensure these regulations are followed properly, helping clients mitigate risks and avoid potential legal issues.
  • Track and measure success of a campaign – Showing the success, efficiency, and ROI of a campaign to a client is important in all aspects of marketing. Influencer campaigns are no different. We use advanced analytics tools to track performance metrics (such as reach, engagement, and conversions); identify the possible necessity of a shift in strategy; then provide our clients with detailed reports and insights that help them better understand the impact of their campaign.

Together, these elements have allowed us at The Martin Group to address influencer marketing needs for our clients, execute successful campaigns, and achieve stated marketing objectives.

(Also, note: It’s a lot of fun.) 

Influencing success

In a 2023 campaign with Galbani cheese, we engaged with six influencers in the micro- and macro-influencer categories. The goals of this campaign were to enhance content quality and brand awareness, grow following, drive increased engagement with branded content, and highlight timely recipe trends.

Months later, it did just that.

These influencers created 40 unique, on-trend, and engaging posts on both TikTok and Instagram throughout 2023, resulting in 4 million impressions with an estimated earned media value of $2.8M. This campaign reached an audience that likely would not have been exposed to Galbani in any other capacity, driving sales and brand awareness of Italy’s number one cheese brand.

Influencer marketing’s next move

Influencer marketing has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry—and it’s still climbing.

Influencers have expanded their opportunities beyond brand partnerships, diving into avenues such as affiliate marketing, content licensing, user-generated content, and merchandise collaborations. We foresee influencers and creators having even more opportunities as the industry continues its evolution.

Big-name influencers leading the charge, but we also expect to see micro-influencers grow in popularity, due to their authenticity and high level of engagement. Brands are starting to utilize these influencers more frequently and are seeing great success. We continue to recommend our clients engage with top micro-influencers for various campaigns. 

The evolution of influencers will likely align with changes in technology, consumer behavior, and various social trends—but these all change every year. There’s plenty we don’t know or even see coming, and this is just the nature of a rapidly shapeshifting marketplace. 

However, from what we’ve seen in recent years, we don’t expect the role of influencer to diminish any time soon.

Want to learn more about how The Martin Group can deploy influencers to help your business? Reach out to us today.

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