Clark Nesselrodt, executive vice president of Brilliant PR & Marketing talks about working with influencers, coming up with media strategies for the company’s clients during the pandemic, and more in the Toy Book’s annual State of the Industry Q&A.
The Toy Book: How are you making up for the lack of major trade shows this year?
Clark Nesselrodt: Though we aren’t booking travel and helping clients develop specific show floor activation plans, from a media and influencer outreach standpoint, we are essentially acting as if the shows were still happening. But instead of making plans to walk our contacts through client booths, we are setting up virtual deskside meetings and creating customized media lookbooks featuring clients’ 2021 new products. We are also using this Q1 push for 2021 new products as an opportunity to speak to a larger audience. Since the pandemic began, we’ve hosted more than 300 top influencers at a series of virtual showcase events that help them learn more about what is behind the brands and companies that make the products we ask them to feature. All of this represents our offensive approach. Our defensive approach requires us to focus on direct-to-consumer strategies. This involves helping clients optimize and drive traffic to Amazon, refine their own e-retail websites to pull in a greater share of online sales, drive conversion performance through digital ads, and calibrate PR value through the lens of search engine optimization and bottom line digital sales.
TB: What role does working with influencers play in your marketing efforts?
CN: Influencers have become a catalyst that can energize and activate so many different parts of a business. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking of influencers solely in terms of product promotion (even though that has never been more applicable with so many brands using Instagram Story swipe-ups as one of their most direct and measurable means for adding new customers to their digital marketing funnels and generating sales). But this is only the beginning of how influencers can be integrated into a business.
A trend we’re seeing is the evolution of the influencer from being a marketing commodity to a source of insights and creative assets. Particularly in a year when live focus groups, photo, and video shoots weren’t possible, we’ve worked with influencers to glean consumer data and develop branded photography and video. Because so many companies are courting them, they have a very unique vantage point on the industry and can be some of our best eyes and ears. And, they are only as good in their own businesses as they are excellent at content creation. This all requires you to go far beyond the product pitch to build deep relationships. We are anticipating and working with some of our clients to help usher in a shift in how influencers help brands build their own social media channels. There is a sweet spot of collaboration in which the influencer is allowed to be more active in the creative process.
This State of the Industry Q&A response was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!