Joe Sinkwitz left a comfortable, high-paying career as a marketing executive to found a startup, Intellifluence, a platform that helps brands partner with influencers.
The reason: To give small businesses access to the same type of influencer marketing opportunities that were only available to large corporations.
“I wanted to create a service that could help small businesses act like big brands,” Sinkwitz said in a telephone interview with Small Business Trends. “We designed Intellifluence to make it easy for small businesses to connect with real people with real audiences and manage social influence campaigns in one place.”
Influencer Marketing Defined
“All influencer marketing means is having someone else telling your story for you,” Sinkwitz said, defining the term. “That could include blog reviews or social media mentions. However, the key concerns revolve around who the influencer is and what the business is trying to do.”
According to Sinkwitz, influencer marketing takes three forms:
- Aspirational. This approach involves the use of celebrities. “Kim Kardashian promoting a skincare line is a perfect example,” he said. “People look up to her and think of her as their hero. They buy whatever product she’s promoting.”
- Authoritative. Sinkwitz said this class of influencer could be a celebrity or non-celebrity. What differentiates them from the first type is that they are an authority on a given subject. “Authoritative influence exists when someone you respect as an expert recommends something from within their field of expertise,” he said.
- Peer. “This type of influence works almost like peer pressure,” he said. “You may not want the product necessarily but feel you need it because a peer recommends it. It’s a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ approach.'”
In a blog post describing the three forms, Sinkwitz wrote, “PR can fit under that umbrella; evangelist customers spreading the word fits; paid spokespeople fits; [and] having your neighbor Sally mention your line of delicious dill pickles on your Twitter account counts.”
Intellifluence Powers Influencer Outreach
How Intellifluence Got Its Start
Typically, most influence marketing firms are extremely expensive to use. That’s because they are an outgrowth of talent agencies, which tend to hire celebrity influencers — often the same ones.
“It can cost as much as $20,000 per month to use their services,” Sinkwitz said. “That’s a year’s worth of a small business’s marketing budget.”
With that kind of expense, Sinkwitz realized there was no way that small businesses could participate in the market.
What’s more, by focusing on celebrities, agencies were missing as much as 80 percent of the influencer audience and leaving billions on the table — as much as $10 billion in the next five years, Sinkwitz said, citing influencer marketing agency Mediakix.
In conceiving the company, he decided to develop Intellifluence around the software as a service (SaaS) model rather than as an agency. That way, he could provide businesses and influencers with a self-service means to interact, removing the need for a middle-man (the agency) and reducing the high cost associated with it.
Having launched in July, the company is still in early-stage startup mode. A lot about the platform remains to be fleshed out, and the company relies heavily on customer feedback for that purpose.
How Intellifluence Works
Influencers can register on the Intellifluence site for free and create a profile that lists their areas of interest and proficiencies, social networks where they participate, and links to their blog or website.
“Everyone is an influencer to some degree,” Sinkwitz said. “For purposes of the site, we consider anyone with a social following of any sort who is willing to discuss products online to be an influencer.”
For businesses looking to find influencers, using Intellifluence is straightforward and involves five steps that power influencer outreach:
- Register as a business (the company offers a 3-day free trial with no credit card required; afterward the cost is just $9 per month);
- Discover influencers based on country (U.S. and U.K.), social networks and keywords;
- Review influencers, to determine their suitability to promote your products;
- Send a message to make an offer, which usually involves some consideration, such as sending them the product;
- Influencers who accept the offer write a product review, spreading the message to their audience.
Intellifluence does not currently allow influencers to search out businesses, although that is on the development roadmap. Also, the company leaves it up to the business as to what to offer influencers in exchange for writing a review. However, in the future, Inntellifluence will offer templates that businesses can use to model pitches, Sinkwitz says.
Influencer Marketing Best Practices
Sinkwitz recommends that businesses clearly define their goal before reaching out to influencers.
“If you’re looking to get more sales, you want to find just the right people,” he said. “If your goal is greater visibility, the key is finding more people.”
He also advises that businesses be honest in their communication and not let days go by before responding to messages from influencers.
To learn more about registering as a business to find influencers or promoting your services as an influencer, you may visit the Intellifluence website here.