It’s never good to see businesses fail, especially when you see it happening long in advance. Shoes of Prey is in liquidation. The “mass customisation” shoe brand had long sung the praises of influencer marketing, claiming that viral videos had led to a “permanent 300% increase in sales“(!!!). Sad and wrong.
The business had long wasted countless investor dollars in influencer marketing, a low reach marketing tactic that – at best – targets a small number of frequent / highest users of the brand, but does not sufficiently grow the number of buyers / customers.
It’s no wonder many savvy marketers are calling it “Influenza Marketing”; that is, marketing that makes your business sick.
With the decline in organic reach delivered by Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and other social media campaigns, the proliferation of fake followers, and the insight that the few real followers are either the most frequent buyers, or “promo pigs” looking for a discount, there are no good reasons to use organic social media and influencers as a reach tool. Every brand is leaky bucket, losing customers every day. The key to brand growth is to gain more customers than you lost. Influencer marketing speaks – poorly – to the very converted.
Social media has five different use cases for marketers, and organic posts are only good for customer service, not for building brands. Advertise on social media, use it as a data targeting channel, use it as a content hosting channel, but don’t pay other people to post content on your behalf. It’s madness.
One of the founders of Shoes of Prey is right to recognise that people don’t share and don’t care, he still thinks influencer marketing works, even after their liquidation, in this blog post from last night:
We learnt the hard way that mass market customers don’t want to create, they want to be inspired and shown what to wear. They want to see the latest trends, what celebrities and Instagram influencers are wearing and they want to wear exactly that — both the style and the brand.
Here’s an old test I’ve advised many clients with; work out how many individuals you will reach with a specific budget per channel. Then build a channel mix that – ceteris paribus – gains you the most reach within your category for your overall budget, that allows you to build mental (awareness & consideration) and physical (digital and physical channels) availability.
Then invest into that with distinctive advertising and content, ensuring each channel drives you closer to conversion. You will attract new customers, drive growth, and grow your business. Influencers are an incredibly poor way to grow your business.