Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • How Businesses Can Leverage Influencer Marketing

    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — With many business focusing on growing direct-to-consumer sales online, owners and operators are looking for ways to separate themselves from their competitors. Influencer marketing has taken off as a way businesses are finding new customers during the pandemic.

    “We help prospect, negotiate, and then, manage the relationship,” said Rachel Maeng Brown, co-founder and CEO of Loot Agency, on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    At 25 years old, Brown has already secured marketing contracts with Macy’s, TurboTax, and the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. She began her social media marketing career as an influencer, herself, when she shared her experiences on the Rutgers University rowing team with her followers, which got the attention of large brands.

    “If we’re talking about somebody’s skin ruin like where they have some rough skin and it’s something that happened because they’re in and out of the cold tub so much as being an athlete. And then, they talk about Jergens, because Jergens might be the skincare that they actually use to help them combat their dry skin. It’s a really easy and really seamless transition into using a marketing plan partner,” said Brown of how she began working with Jergens.

    The young entrepreneur advises her business and influencer clients to tell their story in an authentic way on social media because it will resonate with people. She notes businesses do not necessarily need to hire an influencer who has a ton of followers. So-called “micro-influencers” can be more effective because they have a dedicated following within a specific area.

    “We make sure that the campaign makes sense for their audience because their audience are loyal followers,” said Brown, adding, “You want to make sure that whatever the brand our creators are working with are also brands that our creator would not only use but they would suggest for our audience, too.”

    Some business owners have started creating their own content around their products as a way to boost direct sales. For them, Rachel advises, try to emulate what successful micro-influencers are doing.

    “Something that’s come about now with this rise of influencers and creators is actually looking at influencers and creators kind as a way to almost replicate, copy and get ideas because there’s already a proven way that is successful for creators to get their message out there whether their a business owner (or) whether their a creator talking about their story,” she explained to Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso.

    When new NCAA rules in July opened the door for student-athletes to capitalize on their celebrity, Brown launched a new division of her social media marketing agency. Loot Agency is now helping college athletes pursue deals using their name, image and likeness (NIL).

    “We not only help student-athletes learn a little bit more about how they can become and influencer and also protect themselves legally, tax wise, all of that, but we also help colleges learn a little bit more for their student-athletes about what this whole space of the NIL is,” she said.

    She is proposing endorsement deals for schools and student-athletes with brands that are hoping to tap into the millennial and Gen Z consumer markets. Brown told WCBS 880 that she believes all student-athletes should take business classes and hopes more schools will require financial literacy classes.

    Brown launched The Legacy Brand sole proprietorship in 2019 when she took an interest in the business side of influencer marketing and began consulting brands on the types of content that drives digital sales. She co-founded Loot Agency, Inc. in March where she helps creators manage contracts and ink major endorsement deals. She was recently named to Crain’s New York Business’ “20 in their Twenties 2021” list.

    See how your business can benefit from micro-influencing on our WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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