Joseph Portuese
Joseph Portuese

Today, influencer marketing is bigger than ever. Alas, now that everyone’s activating influencer campaigns, brands must work harder to stand out from the crowd and challenge the norm. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but there are manageable ways to better develop your influencer campaigns and garner the results and relationships that your brand deserves.

Roll up your sleeves and approach influencer campaigns like a DIY project. Creating an impactful and creative influencer campaign doesn’t always need to cost an arm and a leg to execute. In fact, many influencers appreciate when your kit or gift doesn’t look overly manufactured, and that your brand put some creative and hands-on effort — rather than just dollars — into their relationship with you. Pinterest, Instagram, or a simple Google search is a great way to start finding inspiration for a craftier influencer program. As a next step, you can even back away from your computer screen — I know, what a concept — and find inspiration through your children’s school projects or through a stroll in an artsy neighborhood.

O'Dwyer's Apr. '18 Broadcast & Social Media PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Apr. '18 Broadcast & Social Media PR Magazine

If you’re going to do it, do it right. Face it, gone are the days of the simple kit. Brands and influencers are looking for more excitement. The stakes are much higher to deliver post-worthy content. The old saying still holds: “quality over quantity” should be your guiding light. Starting with the influencers you choose to the creative idea that puts it over the top, when you start with a quality plan the results usually follow suit.

When it comes to influencers, brands should spend time researching how and why an influencer is selected to receive a branded gift from you. There are a few simple questions you should always consider when making influencer selections. Does this influencer share my brand’s values? Are there risks associated with working with this influencer? If so, are the risks worth the payoff? Ultimately, when it comes to influencer marketing, it’s all about the total package and bringing it together. First, ensure that you’re selecting influencers that will be a good reflection of your brand. Next, make sure you’re “wowing” them by really investing the time and money into your relationship with them.

Produce something you would want for yourself (or your best friend). This is simple, but so many brands forget that while they’re brainstorming influencer kit ideas, they should be thinking of things they personally would be excited to receive. You should always use yourself — or best friends, significant other, etc. — as a litmus test of what’s cool and innovative for your brand. Want a quick way to tell if your kit will evoke excitement for your influencers? Unassumingly leave out a kit or two around your office or home and see if your fellow coworkers or family members are tempted to steal some items for themselves. Sounds crazy, but it works!

Go the extra step and personalize. Turn up the excitement level of your influencer campaign by simply adding some personalization elements to each of your gifts. Personalization doesn’t need to be limited to adding the influencer’s name to a letter; brands can personalize a gift to an influencer by paying homage to their home state, including a family member or creating an extra little trinket for their pet. Adding these personalization elements are important because they demonstrate to your influencers that they are more than just a name on a shipping list, and that your brand is going the extra step to really connect with their influencers on a more personal level.

Don’t get boxed in to boxes. When most people think of influencer packaging, they often assume boxes, but custom packaging can come in so many other shapes and forms! While custom-printed boxes are on trend right now, consider how much further a custom bag could work for a brand. Unlike boxes, bags are less disposable — great for environmentally cautious brands — and are more likely to be taken outside of an influencer’s home and seen by an additional set of consumers. Furthermore, brands don’t need to be limited to just a simple tote or shopping bag; there’s a vast range of custom bags influencers would be ecstatic to receive, including: garment bags, makeup carriers, fanny packs, and backpacks. With custom fabricated bags, brands have the opportunity to create a truly “tailored” experience!

Dare to be different. This may be easier said than done, but try the unexpected for your brand, and influencers will notice. While we’re all so accustomed to the “go, go, go” nature of influencer marketing, oftentimes your brand will benefit from stepping back and allowing that extra time to develop greater influencer innovations. Additionally, don’t limit the creative brainstorms to only your creative team members, everyone — interns, admins, etc. — should sit in and contribute to these brainstorms. If you get butterflies in your stomach or feel nervous, you’re on the right track! Those feelings prove that you’re challenging the norm and shaking things up in a good way. By taking the time for the creative process and opening up the room, you’ll surely see your brand in a different light and your influencer campaigns will reflect that with more own-able ideas for your brand.

Your own product might be your best asset. If you really want to shine a light on your brand, look no further than utilizing your actual product — or product wrapping — in creating your influencer kits. Utilizing your product can be as simple as creating a custom box — or bag — and gifting large amounts of freebies and samples. Or it could mean that you quite literally, cover an object completely with wrappers or food product. The sky’s the limit once you realize your own product can make a big statement.


Joey “Buffalo” Portuese is the founder and chief creative officer of Zing How Design, the one-stop-shop for influencer creations, innovations & logistics. He has 20-plus years in CPG brand creative development.