Non-Traditional Influencers: Save Money, Gain Effectiveness

Please give a short description of your background.

I have built a social media network of over 15 million followers- a network on which I’ve worked with brands such as Nike, Adidas, Speedstick, Olympic Channel, Gary Vaynerchuck, ESPN’s Jay Williams and more. I’m the marketing director/part owner of a brand with 7 figure sales and over 100,000 customers in over 40 countries.

How did you get started doing this / what was your motivation?

It’s all been a constant learning process where I’ve stumbled upon technique after technique as I’ve worked to build my brands. First it was a basketball gym, then an apparel brand. Most recently, I went head first into building media entities when I saw the huge opportunity when I was working as a media/influencer buyer for my apparel brand. I noticed the great financial opportunity on the selling side, and the absurd value provided. It’s a huge win-win.

Would you say followers of your personal brand offered you a bigger opportunity for sales than affiliate customers?

I would say the single best conversion booster is building a highly engaged brand. Connecting first-hand with your target audience is so powerful. When you build brands the right way, strong relationships are formed and brand advocates are born, who buy your products, then essentially become an unpaid affiliate army, providing testimonials and referrals.

How important is your brand to you, and how important is it to you to manage it properly, rather than outsourcing it?

A brand, especially when there’s a large, engaged audience behind it, is not only the most powerful asset you can have, but also an asset that’s going to majorly increase your multiplier on your business’ value when (or if) you choose to exit your business. Having tried 5 different agencies to help scale our apparel brand, I can honestly say that once you understand your brand and your customer avatar, it’s very rare that any outsourced efforts will be able to create the same effect. Authenticity is everything and an outsourced group is rarely ever going to be able to duplicate your voice, your passion and your deep understanding of your niche. The best brands have in-house direction from people who genuinely love the products and brand they’ve created.

What was your revenue in your first year of business?

For my agency/social media network, I did $527,000 in the first 8 months (and just about $750,000 in the first 12 months). I officially began monetizing the agency in April 2015.
For the apparel brand, we did a couple hundred thousand in the first 12 months.

How much are you on track to do this year?

My agency should surpass 1 million this year.
My apparel brand should surpass 2.5 million this year.