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THE INC. LIFE

Here’s Why I Won’t Give Most ‘Influencers’ Free Products From My Store

Just because a person gets likes and exposure online doesn’t make them worthy of free product.

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BY Arianna ODell - 07 Nov 2018

Here's Why I Won't Give Most 'Influencers' Free Products From My Store

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you're alive in 2018, chances are you've heard the term "influencers" more times than you'd like to.

About once a day, I get an email from a peppy brand rep, teenage girl, or eager mom telling me that they're an "influencer" and asking for free products from my store. I usually laugh, politely tell them no, and continue on with my own targeted campaigns.

Here's three reasons why you shouldn't give most 'influencers' product from your store.

1. Unless they can show the return on your investment, you're throwing money in a black hole.

As a marketer, I'm happy to explore new mediums and campaigns to increase awareness about my products and store. The problem with many "influencers" is they have no insight into their reach or predicted conversions. I ask influencers who email me how many people they reach and about the success of the past campaigns. I'm usually met with crickets. You wouldn't throw $50 into a black hole--and you shouldn't do the same with influencers.

Good influencers to partner with will have a media kit ready for you that includes web statistics, case studies, and a way to prove that your funds aren't simply going towards a quick Instagram mention that will be seen once and then forever forgotten.

2. If you have to beg for products, chances you are not an influencer.

Chances are, if someone is begging for free product, they are not an influencer.

Before all the marketing world cries out "you're wrong Arianna, influencers are great!" let me start off by saying that influencers can be great additions to a marketing campaigns if it's relevant. If you're selling a baby product, a mommy blog with 1 million subscribers could help you drive sales. If you're a selling lipstick, a teenage girl with 200 followers might not drive any results.

During my first year of business I sent many influencers who requested something from my store free product. Spending a few thousand, it was sad to see that it only drove a handful of sales.

I've found that most people asking me for free product are exactly that - people looking for free product and not offering any business value.

3. Influencers asking for free product doesn't value your time.

I've worked hard on my store the past two and a half years. When most people were out with their friends, I was at home working on my business. It's a bit insulting when someone asks you to give away your hard work for free in exchange for a mention.

When I was first getting started with my marketing career I'd often have people ask me to work for free to "build my portfolio" or for "exposure". This feels very similar for "influencers" asking me for products. You wouldn't ask a doctor to give you a free check-up in exchange for a Twitter mention.

Yes, there are a small percentage of people (Maybe .0000000001 percent) that a Twitter mention could drive results for. Think Obama or Justin Bieber. But chances are, the random person who just emailed you asking for free stuff won't drive you anything.

While I'd love to give the whole world something for free, if I indulged every free request I'd be bankrupt. To build my business, I've spent thousands of dollars on design, marketing, accounting and more. It's not just a $50 loss of product but also years of sacrifice to create products that people will love.

As a marketer, I know how valuable influencer marketing can be. If it's targeted, relevant and cost effective it can be a great way to spread the word about your product. But when someone asks you for free product, more often than not, I'd recommend turning them down.

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