How to Qualify An Influencer to Work with Your Pet Brand

By Wednesday, October 3, 2018

As an influencer in the pet industry, and a seasoned PR exec., I get to experience both sides of the influencer/client relationship on a daily basis.

On the client side, when you set out to find online advocates, you’re tasked with finding the right influencer and then developing a working relationship with that person who (hopefully) will communicate your brand values, key product points, and messaging effectively. On the influencer side, a lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into creating the brand/influencer relationship to develop a genuine connection with and belief in a product or service I feel will resonate with your audience. Neither one is an easy task!

However, there are a few insider tricks I’ve picked up along the way that will help you, on the client (brand) side, to qualify your potential influencer so that you can develop a relationship that both you and the influencer will value.

Set Clear Expectations for Your Pet Brand Influencer Relationship

Clear expectations from the outset not only help you, as the sponsor brand, but help the influencer to understand how best to work with you to achieve your goals. If the influencer is hesitant to define how your expectations will be met, you may need to either rethink the partnership, or scale back on the scope of work until you can ensure you’re both on the same page. There’s nothing wrong with testing the waters!

You should:

Be clear about your objectives. Are you trying to drive brand awareness? Sales of a specific product? Is your startup hoping to gain traction with an endorsement from an influencer? Are you trying to grow your social following, email list, or customer list? Do you hope to get as many impressions as possible via print and/or TV?

Being clear about your objectives lays the framework for a successful project together.

— Define the length of your relationship. While some partnerships only last as long a blog post or social post, others may span several months, or even years. While I firmly believe that (in most cases) long-term partnerships are the ones that garner the best results, there are certainly times when a simple blog post or social post are all that’s needed to add legs to an existing campaign.

Being clear about the length of your engagement helps the influencer plan accordingly and give you the attention your message deserves. Also, if you’re testing the waters with a new influencer, let them know that too. Influencers generally value long-term partners, so if they know you’re not just going to be a one-and-done, they will likely go the extra mile in the hopes of building on the partnership.

— Understand the parameters of your relationship. It’s important to understand whether or not you are entering an exclusive relationship or not. Is your influencer also free to promote your competitor? If so, how will your messaging stand out from the others?

Typically, exclusive relationships require long-term contracts since you’re essentially limiting the influencer’s client base. As an influencer in the pet industry, I have to say the exclusive partnerships I engage are the ones I find most rewarding. I get to communicate to my audience in an organic and authentic way, since genuine moments with a valuable product or brand can’t be staged — especially when it comes to working with pets!

— Determine how success is measured. This is a huge pain point for most clients. After spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, you need to measure success. Believe it or not, the influencer does, too. However, you must agree ahead of time on what success looks like and how you will measure it. The approach affects the outcome, so, for the influencer, knowing ahead of time how the campaign will be judged is critical.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some basic metrics you can request in your contract with an influencer, depending the type of campaign you run:

Social

  • Reach
  • Engagement rate
  • Number of comments
  • Number of shares

Blog Posts

  • Page views
  • Number of comments
  • Number of social shares
  • Socials stats (see above) from blog post promotion

Lead Generating Content (ebooks, checklists, etc)

  • Landing page visits
  • Landing page conversion rate
  • Number of opt ins
  • Social stats (see above) from content promotion

Television Appearances

  • Impressions
  • Online traffic or % sales increase within the following 24 hours (you’ll need to work together to determine how to determine these figures)

Determine the scope of work and who will manage it. Lastly, you’ll need to nail down who will provide the scope of work. Sadly, all too often, the influencer signs a monthly or yearly contract and then expects the client to manage and propose programs for the influencer to execute! This often leaves the client feeling like they’re just managing another employee, rather than engaging a vendor providing a valuable service.

To avoid this fiasco, make sure to ask for a list of the programs, packages, and services the influencer offers. Some are happy to customize programs and if that’s the case, the influencer should be prepared to draft a proposal based on your needs. Whatever package or service you choose, though, you should feel confident that the influencer will provide you deliverables on time and with little to no management.

5 Questions to Ask Your Potential Influencer (and the answers you hope to get)

As an ambassador for your brand, the influencer should be able to quickly respond to questions from followers, media, etc., about your product with grace and poise. Likewise, when considering working with an influencer, a potential candidate should be able to provide satisfactory answers to these basic questions:

  1. How do you measure success?
  2. Which channels are your most successful in terms of reach and engagement?
  3. Why do you think this relationship is a good fit?
  4. Have you ever used XYZ product? If so, what are some of the things you liked best about it? What did you like least?
  5. Are you currently promoting any of our competitors or have you done so in the past? If the relationship ended, why did it end?

Hopefully, you’ll receive answers similar to these:

  1. “I measure success with concrete metrics, which I will provide and review with you at the end of our engagement. Here is a sample report that you’ll receive.”
  2. “I use a variety of channels, but XYZ is my primary focus. I average X (views, shares, reach, etc.) on that channel and am happy to provide you with some examples of my previous work.”
  3. “I’ve been using your product for quite some time and already have an audience that’s warmed up to your brand.” (This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use an influencer who has never used your product. However, this is an ideal response.)
  4. “Yes, I use your XYZ product every day. I particularly like ________ about it. However, I find ______ challenging.” Honest reviews are important, not only for the transparency of your company, but also provide valuable market research to your company.
  5. There’s really no right or wrong answer here. You can expect that the influencer has likely worked with competitors, but you need to watch for red flags, such as… honesty about the fact they’ve worked with competitors (based on your research or audit of their platforms),  or a tendency to work with brands only on a short-term basis (unless that is their specific preference or strategy).

Despite the extensive screening process, qualifying an influencer is worth the effort in the long run. Especially when you find an influencer that is vetted by years of experience, comes prepared to deliver, and is prepped not only to meet your expectations, but exceed, them, the relationship is a no-brainer.

 

With more than 25 years in the pet industry, I know how important the client/influencer relationship is, as well as how challenging it is to find just the right person to help you achieve your goals. To view my Pet Credible Influencer Programs and see how we might work together, simply fill out the short form below and I’ll be in touch within 48 hours. 

Get a tried and tested step-by-step process for qualifying an influencer to work for your pet brand.