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The Booming Business Niche That Didn’t Exist a Few Years Ago (Episode 17)

Elma Beganovich is the co-founder of Amra and Elma (A&E), a digital agency that specializes in a business niche growth industry that didn’t exist just 10 years ago. She is one of New York City’s top lifestyle influencers with over 1 million followers across her social channels.

Amra & Elma has a large client portfolio of Fortune 500 companies such as Wells Fargo, J&J, P&G, and Netflix. The founders, Amra and Elma, are mega influencers with over 2.2 million social followers.

Elma leads A&E’s efforts in building a list of world-renowned partners and clients. Her area of expertise includes identifying roles that A&E can play for a variety of brands in different industries, as well as developing terms and scope for those partnerships. 

She holds a B.A. in Government and French from Georgetown University (2007) and a J.D. from the University of Miami Law School (2011). She attended Georgetown University School of Law for the LLM program in Securities and Financial Regulations (2012) and is a New York barred attorney. 

Elma has been named as a leading influencer marketing expert by Forbes, Business Insider, Financial Times, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, WSJ, ELLE Magazine, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and many more. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies like Johnson & Johnson, LVMH, Procter & Gamble, Uber, Nestle, HTC,  Huawei and more.

You can see and read more about A&E on Forbes, Bloomberg Television, Financial Times, Inc., and Business Insider Video.

What you will learn

  • The power of the new trend of “cause marketing”.
  • Why timing can be everything when you launch your business.
  • What social responsibility in business looks like.
  • The importance of learning from doing in a fast-changing business landscape.
  • The steps you need to take to keep growing your business even when you get the timing nailed.
  • Some of the pitfalls that entrepreneurs all hate.
  • How influencer marketing works.
  • The correct process for engaging an influencer(s).
  • Whether you should be using TikTok.
  • The key metrics you need to measure for influencer marketing success.
  • The top technology platforms used by influencers and agencies.  
  • A key difference between B2B and retail influencer marketing.
  • Why you should be using the magic rule of seven. 
  • The importance of playing the long game.
  • Why keeping your KPI’s simple is vital. 
  • What the creative process looks like from the inside.

Transcript

Jeff Bullas: Hi everyone, and welcome to the Jeff Bullas show. Today I have with me Elma Beganovich, and she is part of a team at Amra & Elma, which is known as one of the top influencer marketing agencies in New York City. Before we have a chat with Elma, I would like to just tell a little bit about what Elma's been doing in the last few years.

Jeff Bullas: Amra & Elma's efforts in building a list of the world renowned partners and clients. Her expertise includes identifying roles that Amra & Elma can play for a variety of brands in different industries, as well as developing terms and scope with this partnerships. She holds a BA in Government and French from Georgetown University, and also has done a little bit of law from [inaudible 00:01:56] school in 2011. She attended Georgetown University and did Securities and Financial Regulations in 2012, and is a New York barred attorney.

Jeff Bullas: Miss Beganovich is one of the top city's lifestyles influencers with over one million followers across social channels. She's been named as a lead influencer marketing expert by Forbes, Business Insider, Financial Times, Entrepreneur, and the list goes on. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies like Johnson & Johnson, LVMH, Procter & Gamble, Uber, Nestle, HTC, Huawei, and more. Welcome to the show, Elma. I've been really looking forward to having a chat with you. I want to find out how this all started.

Elma Beganovich: Oh, thank you so much, Jeff, for having me. I'm really excited to be here. Yeah, it's been quite a whirlwind of a journey. It started actually... So in late 2012, before Facebook pages even existed, if one can believe that, it started late 2012. Essentially, what had happened is that at the time, there weren't that many do it yourself blogs, and so what we would frequently have discussions with our internal circle of friends was a lot of the content that was at that time pushed out by Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, all these lifestyle magazines, wasn't very relatable. Meaning that your average woman couldn't spend thousands of dollars on skincare or hundreds of thousand dollars on plastic surgery.

Elma Beganovich: Basically, what had happened is that Amra sat up one night all night, and tried to figure out code. Tried to basically set up our blog, our first blog on Blogger at the time. Blogger, as you probably remember, was kind of a competitor with WordPress. She sat up that night and kind of was struggling with HTML, CSS to customize our blog. Essentially, she did.

Elma Beganovich: We started then also Twitter and Facebook pages essentially came out as well, I think it was that year or early 2013, and then we started basically generating... I think within the first three months, the blog had over 100,000 unique monthly visitors, and that was when we had Deborah Lippmann, Rodial, and Paris Hilton, she had her own line of purses at the time, approaching us to do basically a collaboration on an exchange basis. That's when we figured, okay, I think there's something here. This could very well be a business.

Jeff Bullas: Right. What year was that?

Elma Beganovich: This was late 2012.

Jeff Bullas: 2012, okay. You actually leapt into the social media space before it became pay to play. You actually got in just in time to start building organic audience because the pay to play and advertising and Facebook going public was in about 2013, 2014. What social media platform did you initially focus on when you started in 2012, Elma?

Elma Beganovich: Yeah, that's a great question. Actually, we were one of the first. At the time, the term influencer marketing wasn't really coined as a term. Not an industry, marketing industry term, anyway. We started a little bit with Twitter. Then Instagram, like I said, we were one of the first influencers there. Again, it wasn't at the time called an influencer, but I remember when we were there, there was basically no one there, and I remember just posting and putting hashtags and my sister and business partner, she was basically kind of pushing me in the direction... I think she was a visionary in that sense, and she said, "I think there's something here in terms of Instagram."

Elma Beganovich: We started very, very early on. I don't think either of us... I don't think actually anyone in the world understood where social media was going at that time because the sentiment was still, is this just for college kids? Kind of didn't take it seriously. We just dove in very early in terms of content creation.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah, and that, I think, was good visionary in terms of what Amra did because if you'd leapt in maybe two or three years later, it would have been much tougher to actually build that audience because for me, the same thing. Twitter was my main go-to. I leapt into the other ones as well, like Pinterest even and Instagram and Facebook. But Twitter was where I'd built an audience the most quickly because it was actually the best and most organic way to grow a distribution for me and where I was playing.

Jeff Bullas: So you start in 2012, you've wrestled with building a blog, and you've signed up Paris Hilton. What happened after that initial start? You get 100,000 views on your blog, you're going... All right, so had you all left your day jobs by then? Because you were both, you were working as a lawyer, is that correct?

Elma Beganovich: Yes. It was very, I was working part-time, and I was going to school full-time, and it was very stressful in the sense that my sister, like I said, was the visionary, and she was pushing me. She said, "You know, when will you have the opportunity? You're young, you don't have a family, and you're not, basically there's no place that just kind of holds you down. There's opportunity here digitally." We had obviously a long talk about it, and like I said, these brands had started approaching us, so essentially yeah. We decided, bravely, basically to leave our jobs and give yourselves one year to figure it out in terms of the business model and digital media and how it all worked.

Elma Beganovich: We hadn't come from the traditional advertising backgrounds, so like you mentioned in the beginning, so I'm a barred attorney, and Amra was at the time, she's an economist working on World Bank projects. Yeah, it was quite something new. I think where we were lucky in the sense because as our following evolved, as it grew, we got offered, I remember, our first paid sponsored post was actually just $99. I remember Amra actually running and calling me, and she was very excited. I didn't understand the commotion, and she said, "We got offered $99 for a Tweet from a startup." It's a startup app that... At the time Coachella was going on, and they wanted to announce all the different events at Coachella. Basically the users could check out for the events and register for the events. She said to me, and I understood at that time, we can make $99, we can make a lot more. This was the start of it.

Elma Beganovich: We started as influencers, and essentially we obviously kept growing, and so we outgrew the startup brands and the small businesses that we were working with. They could no longer afford us in terms of advertising dollars, so the repeated question was, "Well, how can we continue working together?" They were obviously looking for opportunities and cost-effective opportunities. They said, "Well, do you think you could replicate your own success in terms of grow our own social following and open our social media accounts and manage them?"

Elma Beganovich: Amra and I stayed quiet for a while, but after we saw this was a repeated request, we said, "Why don't we give this a try?" Again, unknowingly kind of signing ourselves up to be a marketing agency, essentially. We didn't even understand, like I said, that we were going in that direction. But yeah, that's how it essentially happened.

Elma Beganovich: Then as we also grew our portfolio, we encountered bigger clients, so then of course expanded the scope of the campaign and essentially went from social media management and content production to influencer marketing, and that area obviously ballooned and is just from influencer trips to events to branded content to influencers now have their own lines with brands. Yeah, just basically expanded.

Jeff Bullas: You're basically working in an industry, or started working in 2012 that didn't exist, essentially, 10 years ago.

Elma Beganovich: Yes. That's exactly right. That's exactly right.

Jeff Bullas: It's very hard for a lot of people to understand this strange world in which you especially have grown up in. I'm a little older. But when people ask me what I do, I'd said, "Well, I would need to tell you a story first, otherwise you're not going to get it." Especially if you're talking to an older generation or just trying to explain how you make money out of being a blogger, how do you make money out of being an influencer? You girls stumbled into it. You left high paying jobs and training that is very traditional. Studied economics, studied law, and here you are, running an influencer digital marketing agency in New York.

Jeff Bullas: What were some of the biggest challenges you had? You identified the opportunity, something's happening here, and of course that's always encouraging, isn't it? When something's happening. You're going, "All right." What were some of the challenges you struck along the way in terms of dealing with clients, growing the business, some of the changes such as Facebook going very much the way of paid advertising rather than organic reach. What were some of the biggest challenges for Amra and you?

Elma Beganovich: Sure. There was obviously more than one challenge we were facing. One of the, when I'm asked, "What's one of the regrets, if you have regrets?" It's not necessarily a regret, it's just I would say an advice. For us, since we basically unknowingly stumbled into this world, we took the longer route. As I mentioned, we started as influencers. And yes, we're still influencers, but that's not the core of our business. It's digital marketing, and the focus is on influencer marketing. We started as influencers, didn't really know much about this world. Didn't know how to put together a proposal, what even the pricing was for different services.

Elma Beganovich: I would advise, if somebody's starting out, they're looking at this, whatever business you're trying to pursue, go honestly and work for the CEO and be the executive assistant. You don't even need to take more of an intellectual job, if you will, and that company, but go literally be somebody's assistant to really learn the ins and outs of the business. I had no experience, and neither did Amra in that sense.

Elma Beganovich: It's kind of learning everything from scratch, and that was kind of the hard way, versus that I would advise most people rather than diving into a business, go and be an apprentice, and like I said, be an executive assistant. Carry coffee, schedule meetings. But to really understand the challenges that an executive of an advertising agency faces and what does the day in and day out look like. I had no clue, and just kind of learned it the hard way. I think it took us obviously longer than maybe somebody who had kind of been there and knew what they were signing up for.

Jeff Bullas: Right. It's just you and Amra? When did you start looking at hiring people to help you? Because obviously the challenge for every entrepreneur is you've got to work at how you can work not in the business but on the business, and actually leverage yourself because you can be, I suppose, a one man band or one person band. When was it you sort got to and went, "Uh, we can't do this all ourselves, and we need to get a little bit more grown up in approach."

Elma Beganovich: Absolutely, so 2015 was when the real revenue started rolling in, and when obviously we understood there was no way we could execute the campaigns ourselves. We started hiring gradually in 2015, and then really grew in 2016 and 2017. Those were the two years that really the business took off, and so yeah. We started hiring. It was October 2017 when we got our office in Times Square. I was really ecstatic about that. I remember just walking down sixth avenue and feeling really proud. I was what? I was 32 or 31, sorry, when we got our first office. That was exciting, and then started hiring people.

Elma Beganovich: I also remember some other moments, because they asked us what are the moments that you really felt good about the company? And we had the Financial Times reporter come in and he was one of their really famous tech reporters, and he came into our office and was talking to us and was really scrutinizing everything we were doing, of course, as a start up. We're like, we're just waiting to get our computers in. Things like that. This looks like a mess. He was like, "Can I come and see?" And I'm like, "Yeah, come on in."

Elma Beganovich: Yeah, there were moments like this, or having a Fortune 500, he's the deputy CEO right now, but he came in from Paris just to talk to us and to meet us and essentially sign them up as a client. There were different milestones I felt really, really great.

Elma Beganovich: Obviously, like I said, there were many pitfalls along the way, like how to hire, how to fire somebody. I remember my first fire, and that was really, really hard. My sister said, "I don't want to do it." She was like, "Go into the office early and have a chat with her." I'm like, "All right." Nobody prepared me. I had no clue what I was doing. I think there could have been an easier route, but essentially found my way through, peddled my way through. But, yeah, so.

Jeff Bullas: I think what we need to understand a bit more, especially for our audience, is influencer marketing. Some people actually haven't even heard of it. Everyone who works in digital of course has heard of it. But influencer marketing is a very interesting space, in that you can be the influencer, but you're somewhat also trying to make brands more influential as well. If someone approaches your... And this is not one size fits all, how do you work with clients? How does that look like? They approach you, so say, "Look, we want you to work as an influencer agency for us or a digital marketing agency." What does that look like?

Elma Beganovich: Sure. It depends obviously, like you said, there's no one size fits all. We always scrutinize and look at the brand and where they are in their market, so their market positioning. Also are they new? Are they a brand that's been around for a long time, a heritage brand and they need to kind of do a revamp to bring themselves into, I don't know, basically today, make themselves current, relevant? It depends, but some of the things that we do, it's basically to make you known online, and more specifically we will engage...

Elma Beganovich: So for example, with influencers, we will engage different influencers on behalf of the brand, and they could do anywhere from sponsored posts to being brand ambassadors, which is more of a long term partnership, and then also influencer trips. This was of course pre-pandemic. Influencer events. Hosting an event for influencers and introducing them to the product or the new line, what the brand is trying to launch.

Elma Beganovich: We do product photography and video, so everything of course is geared toward digital, so if the client wants to, for example, they just launched on e-commerce, or they're look to relaunch the e-commerce site, so they need product photography of different skincare products. We do that. Or if it's fashion, models, and styling, we do that. Essentially anything that you think of digitally, we do.

Elma Beganovich: But like I said, our core is around influencer marketing, and then also creative. We do, as well I should mention, market reports for companies that are looking to understand how many people have actually even heard of them. It's like, oh, only we found for one client, a healthcare client, 1% of people, we did a sample study for them had actually knew about them. Then we did an estimate of what it would take from 1% to 25%, they were working within the Midwest region, and would take to get to know them. So estimated the cost and ran the campaign through influencers.

Elma Beganovich: It's different digitally, again depending on the client. But always the goal is basically to raise brand awareness, to raise website traffic. If you're looking obviously at an increase in traffic. Also foot traffic, like in store, in brick and mortar. We'll also do follower count, so to increase follower count, that could also be another metric, or engagement if they have poor engagement on their social channels, we also do that. There's a variety of ways that we're also looking to measure the campaign's performance.

Jeff Bullas: What you're trying to do is you're trying to build brand attention through using influencers that you would collectively, I suppose, curate, hire on behalf of the brand. Is that essentially what you've been doing as an influencer agency?

Elma Beganovich: Yes, exactly.

Jeff Bullas: Okay. Now this is the interesting part to it because influencers, a lot of them do have a lot of organic reach. Sometimes they've got stronger engagement. In other words, they might only have 30,000 or 40,000 followers on Instagram, but they have a lot of engagement. How do you see the role of both the organic reach of influencer plus adding and supercharging with paid advertising? Has it worked in that space, influencer marketing?

Elma Beganovich: We always look at the... Although influencers don't charge per their engagement rates, it's typically through following, the size of the influencer, we always look, and that's how we suggest to our clients influencers that have a very high engagement rate. A great engagement rate on Instagram, it could be anywhere from 3% to 6%, of course depending on the following size. The bigger the influencer, of course it's going to be less of a percentage. But yeah, that's absolutely something that's very, very important, and that we look at, and that's how we essentially suggest a list of influencers that we put together for the brands, of course depending on their criteria and their target demographic.

Jeff Bullas: Right. So to help you manage all this, obviously you're using technology, and you're using different platforms. What are some of the technologies or platforms that you use to help you both manage and also distribute the influencer message on behalf of a brand? What are some of the platforms that are your favorites that you use?

Elma Beganovich: Sure. We use mostly for our clients we're trying to target millennials and Gen Z, so most of the platforms that we focus on are Instagram, YouTube, and YouTube. We've looked towards TikTok but haven't done as much with TikTok. That's been a very much emerging platform. But yes, the crux of the advertising dollars are spent on Instagram and on YouTube because like I said, we're looking at millennial and Gen Z. That's our focus target demographic.

Jeff Bullas: That's very interesting. You didn't mention Facebook.

Elma Beganovich: No. No. Because yeah, Facebook, like I said, when we talk to our clients, unless they're looking at an older generation, so older than millennials, we don't suggest Facebook. That's not where the bulk of the community, if you will, that hangs out surrounding particular industry is, in terms of again millennials and Gen Z.

Jeff Bullas: Right. I thought that may be the case. It's interesting, watching I suppose the use of Instagram has just kept growing quite strongly. A lot of people have moved out from Facebook to Instagram. I suppose a lot of the millennials going, "Well, my parents are using Facebook, so that's so old school." Now that leads to a very interesting, which you mentioned before, a very interesting platform that's emerged over the last two or three years. It's growing rapidly, especially in the last few months. That's a platform that is emerging into global consciousness called TikTok.

Elma Beganovich: Right.

Jeff Bullas: Now TikTok, the numbers for those of you who haven't been reading the news, I mean just turning on watching what's unfolding around the world with this pandemic. TikTok has grown by over 330 million users in the first three months of this year. It's a staggering number. Who would have thought that people that are actually miming to a 15 second video with music in the background would actually be such a popular platform?

Jeff Bullas: Now, TikTok, I've seen some numbers on this, and a lot of influencers are big on Instagram. Some of the big hitters and players on Instagram's influencers are certainly getting stuck into TikTok. Can you tell me a bit about... You must have some really interesting insights into where you think that's going, what's happening in that space.

Elma Beganovich: In terms of TikTok, it's very interesting. We're not too eager to rush into any campaigns in terms of push our clients in that direction because we saw, it was very interesting with Snapchat. This was 2017. Snapchat was really taking off, and we actually started getting requests from brands about Snapchat influencers. Then Facebook came out with Instagram with Instastories. That kind of killed Snapchat overnight, which was really interesting.

Elma Beganovich: Yeah, with TikTok, what has been really popular are these, especially during quarantine, these challenges. There will be different challenges in terms of baking, in terms of even makeup, in terms of just doing different, I don't know, handstands. I'm sure you saw on Instagram as well the ice bucket challenge. Things like this, so kind of to make people have fun. It's basically where the campaigns that we've looked at and that we've advised our clients to do on TikTok.

Elma Beganovich: It would be, for example, influences who are part of challenge, and they challenge other influencers. They kind create some fun videos obviously to music and challenge each other, and then they will also challenge their followers. They will use then, the followers, certain hashtags, and then we can measure metrics that way. But yeah, these are some of the more engaging, I would say, campaigns that we've seen and that we've advised our clients to go in that direction if they were going to use TikTok.

Jeff Bullas: Right. Looking at what the platform is doing, what's working, what isn't, and just doubling down on what's working on that platform. TikTok is very much one about challenges. Is that the same on Instagram as well so much, or is it mainly TikTok?

Elma Beganovich: It's mainly TikTok. There have been, of course, challenges on Instagram, but TikTok, since it seems to be centered around music about dances, like I said, influencers will challenge each other. What's been tricky about TikTok is that it's a very young demographic.

Jeff Bullas: Yes it is.

Elma Beganovich: We are careful also to advise our clients because if they're going after the millennials, it's just a safer bet, if you will, that they will get a larger reach in terms of the millennials on Instagram rather than TikTok. Of course with TikTok, the analytics tools are not as advanced as on Instagram, so for us, that makes it more challenging to measure the effects and the metrics of the campaign, essentially.

Jeff Bullas: What you're saying is you are being a little wary in your use of using TikTok as an influencer platform at this stage, but you are taking a bit of a watching brief. Would that be correct?

Elma Beganovich: Yes, yes. That's exactly right. Because like I said, YouTube and Instagram, they've been around longer. With that said, they have very developed analytics tools, so that makes it easier for us to measure the effects of the campaign. Like I said also, at least in the west, these are the main platforms that are used day in and day out by just a bigger audience. We know for sure in terms of, like I said, the analytics tools.

Elma Beganovich: Facebook has been very good, and so has YouTube, about that, so we can gather for them in terms of impressions, in terms of reach, in terms of also we can also talk to our influencers and say what time of the day is the best to post. What time of the day is your audience the most active. Also, look at not only the country where your audience comes from but also the cities where you're primary. If we're, for example, the call to action is, "Go and visit this brick and mortar store," or, "You can purchase these items at these locations," then we know that the influencers, that they're closer to the target demographic than we need to reach our some sort of goals. Those tools make it easier.

Jeff Bullas: Right. You're using platforms such as Instagram and YouTube because they're more grown up in terms of their tools. You've got better data, got better analytics. It's also the ecosystem that surrounds that as well, not just on the platforms themselves, but also the tools that have emerged over the last five or six years. Because I've certainly noticed that there's a lot of people diving into the tools for TikTok now. It's a bit of a gold rush. People are building the tools to facilitate TikTok marketing.

Jeff Bullas: Within Instagram and YouTube and Facebook, in this particular time with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the planet a little bit at the moment, we're seeing some really interesting emerging trends on the platforms. One is live streaming. Could you tell me a little bit about where you see that sitting at the moment and maybe where that's going to head in the future? Because I just came off a live streaming. I was working as an influencer for a company called InVideo, which is a startup which does, you can build Facebook ads and Instagram ads very quickly with video. I did a livestream. Where do you see that sitting, going forward? Because everyone's working a lot more virtually. Even though you're based in New York, you're actually in Indianapolis now trying to escape what's happening in New York. Where do you see things like live streaming?

Elma Beganovich: Sure. That's a great question. We're actually very excited about live streaming. We've seen an explosion of livestreaming since the pandemic began. It's been actually very helpful for us and our clients. What they can essentially do is that they can be very creative with their content, and they can either on their own or they can invite other guests, which could be other influencers or industry experts. So they sort of talk to their customers and provide valuable advice, content essentially. Whether you are a food brand, you can invite, for example, a chef, and do some sort of cooking class on Instagram, on Instagram Live. You can basically advise on different recipes using your products, ingredients.

Elma Beganovich: It just lends itself to creativity. Also for example, health and fitness brands, they've done workout videos. There's been an explosion of at-home workout videos, so that's been fun. Also even for design companies as well, inviting in your designer, seeing how to decorate your space internally. Obviously, people are spending a lot more time at home.

Elma Beganovich: It's just these kinds of different ways to reach your audience, and then also what's very valuable about Instagram Live is that you are able to, for example, pin. So whatever your call to action is, Maybe let's say you were even saying, "Shop right now, and 10% of the purchase of the proceeds will go to a charity that's been hard struck by COVID." You can also do different causes. Live is very powerful, it's very engaging, and it's great for brands.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah. That's fascinating to hear because there's nothing like a good crisis to create some creativity, isn't it? It's certainly pushed the edges. I've seen some fun. I haven't had a haircut for four months, for example. But I'm going to have one today because we're essentially quite out of lockdown now and I looked in the mirror the other day and said, "Jeff, you need a haircut." What other trends do you see apart from live video that are being driven by this crisis?

Elma Beganovich: Sure. Trends other than live video that we've seen, and I should mention also Amazon is, which we've been keeping in close eye, also starting Amazon Live, where it's kind of resembling QVC. I think they're taking queue, and again we've been paying attention, from WeChat in China, where influencers are actually directly selling products of brands, which you could technically do on Instagram Live, but I think they still need more tools for that technology to make it easier for consumers to shop. That's something that's very fascinating take note of.

Elma Beganovich: In terms of other trends that have been in COVID, it's been very interesting what we've seen, and we've shared that with brands, is that there's been this explosion of online activity. There's been at least... Facebook reported that Instagram Live and Facebook Live views have doubled. Yeah. There's been an explosion. YouTube also reported, and we actually have an internal report I'm happy to share with you, but YouTube also reported a surge of online activity. But basically, you get as a brand... And a result, some influencers have slightly increased their prices, so we measure that as well because we work with other talent agencies that represent influencers. There's been a slight increase in price, and we think that's because of the surge in online activity for influencers at least.

Elma Beganovich: But yeah, there's just a lot more opportunities for brands in terms of they're able to basically now have consumers shop online directly. Maybe before, they were, even for smaller businesses, they were dependent on retailers. Now basically anybody can set up their own shop, so long as you have a quality product that you're confident about that you want to sell. But anybody. Barrier to entry is very minimum. You can use all kinds of tools and Instagram also has now for Instastories swipe up, which is really, you asked about handy tools, very great for brands because they see an influencer that's advertising something, and you can swipe up and go directly and buy it. That makes it really great. There's all kinds of opportunities and obviously for brands just to be very strategic and creative about it that they can take advantage of this online activity.

Jeff Bullas: What you're saying is that the e-commerce opportunity that's emerged out of this is something worth certainly doubling down on. Interesting walking past a bookstore that had its little door open, and the owner was there. This was about six, seven weeks ago. I sort of said to her, "Look, can we check your books online?" She said, "No, we don't really have books online." You can see that they weren't ready for the crisis. I think what's happening is that, and you've just mentioned it, across a whole range of industries is that we now have to work out how to make online buying much easier.

Jeff Bullas: And look, it has been. Amazon's been the poster child of how to make buying one click, for example. The other part of Amazon I find fascinating is that it's now turning a lot to things like... It's actually a huge search engine. It's starting possibly to compete with Google as well. In fact, the whole four horsemen of the digital age, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon. I'm reading a fascinating book called The Four at the moment by an author called Scott Galloway. They're actually starting to compete with each other. But it's interesting that people are going, "Well, how do I actually do business online a lot better?" We're seeing that with online take... Home delivery, for example. I've had a lot of home delivery, like you've had, I'm sure as well.

Elma Beganovich: Yes, I sure have!

Jeff Bullas: Again, I'm a crap cook, so really it's home delivery saved me from starvation, frankly.

Elma Beganovich: Yeah.

Jeff Bullas: Luckily, I've got a credit card, so that was helpful as well.

Elma Beganovich: Sure.

Jeff Bullas: Where do you see the whole influencer space unfolding over the next year or two? What would you recommend to businesses that want to hire influencers? You especially work in the B to C space, don't you, more than B to B, from my observation.

Elma Beganovich: Exactly.

Jeff Bullas: If a company was going to set up an influencer campaign for B to C, what would be your top recommendations?

Elma Beganovich: Sure. For B to C, I think it's really important to, and I can't emphasize this enough, don't rush into it. Meaning hire somebody, work with somebody who has a lot of experience because social media is no longer... When we started, it was just kind of post and give it a go. But there's so many tools now. When you want to do so much as posting on Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube or Instagram or Twitter, there's backlinks, there's tagging options, there's hashtagging options. Have somebody really who's basically going to sit down and devise a strategy that's right for your business, that's right for your customer.

Elma Beganovich: If you don't have a budget, that's okay. Start something small, meaning even work with somebody part time. Do not, in terms of influencers, do not rush into it thinking that I'm going to give it a try for a month or two and see if it works. You won't know what the truth is because as marketers know, there's the magic rule of seven. It takes seven times for a consumer to see your brand in order to make a decision to purchase. Just because someone saw you once, you're not done. It's not sort of like... To give an analogy, it's like Ferrari presenting itself. Maybe unless you're a fast food pizza chain, but Ferrari presents itself and says, "Here it is, now go buy the product." It's just now how the decision making works for even a skincare product that costs $60 or more.

Elma Beganovich: It takes time. Be patient. Don't rush into it. Hire somebody with experience. Like I said, even part time. Part time is better than nothing and standing still. Use the social channels and understand your customer and understand what kind of content that they are ready to consume that's created by your brand. That would be one of my, I think the strongest points would be don't rush in and be too quick to rush out.

Jeff Bullas: Okay, so what you're saying in essence is to play the long game.

Elma Beganovich: Exactly.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah. I heard some numbers a few years ago which said that if you're seen once or twice, your retention rate as a brand is about 2%. If you're seen four to five times, your retention rate, in terms of people remembering you, goes up to over 50%. It is about playing the long game, whether you're a blogger, whether you're a digital entrepreneur, whether you're hiring influencers. That's great to hear. Now there's one other question I did have before we finish up. Obviously, you have to go into quite a creative process with your clients. Could you tell me a little bit about how you do that? Because that area is everyone's got different opinions on it. Can you tell me a little bit about your creative process when you're working with clients? Any process.

Elma Beganovich: Absolutely, yeah. One of our first steps is to do research and analysis on the brand, meaning on what's their positioning in the market versus their competitors, and see, in order to advise them strategically, what moves to do and basically what's going to have the most impact. Also obviously brands will tell us themselves their struggles, whether it's, like I mentioned, a heritage brand that's been around for a long time but it's kind of outdated. We need to give them advice on how to make them more relevant.

Elma Beganovich: That's for example, I'm happy to have Taylor as well share with you our case studies, but for us, Luxottica, one of our clients, they're the largest eyewear brand in the world. They had relaunched transition lenses, which are their lenses that you've probably seen. They go from light to dark or dark to light, depending on where you're sitting. They basically were outdated, definitely not cool with millennials. We did a campaign with them when they relaunched. To make them very relevant and cool, they launched new style colors, mirror lenses, so really to make it more appealing to a younger demographic.

Elma Beganovich: We go through this process with the brand of basically carefully... And that's why I mentioned it's really important to do your research and hire someone who understands branding and targeting. We go through that process with them, and then the second step is to decide on the strategy before executing. What are they looking to do? We also set KPIs. That's really important. Do not launch a campaign as a business or even as a solo entrepreneur without understanding your metrics. How do you measure success, in other words? As I mentioned before, is it maybe you're doing it by impressions. Are you counting your followers? Are you looking at engagement? Are you looking at the amount of content produced? What is it that ultimately how you define. Promo codes, sales. How do you define success? We set one KPI, sometimes two KPI, and don't recommend doing too many KPIs. We set the KPIs and then we go into execution.

Elma Beganovich: After the execution, the final step is actually to do a metrics report. We, again, go back and look at those KPIs. Were they traffic visits? Were they in store visits, foot traffic visits? Were they, like I said, follower growth, impressions? For brand sentiment, that's something that's very important to corporations. What are consumers feeling about the brand? We'll actually go into the comments and analyze the comments of influencers to see, has the brand sentiment changed after the campaign? Yeah, it's really important as well to do that metrics report at the end, which is very time consuming, but very much worth it. This is typically the way that we from start to finish do campaigns.

Jeff Bullas: Right. That's a good overview to give people an idea of what to look out for and how to approach things. One fun question before we wrap it up. In the middle of this pandemic that we're experiencing now, what sort of changes are you seeing to brands and how they're marketing and advertising?

Elma Beganovich: Absolutely. One of the major changes that we've seen is cause marketing. I think the statistics are the following, that 56% of consumers would actually stop buying from a brand if they perceive the brand as not being ethical and that 90% will actually switch to another brand if they see the other brand is actually, they are engaged in social responsibility. We've advised brands, and from all sizes, to engage in some sort of social responsibility because that's the way that consumers are making decisions right now.

Elma Beganovich: Social responsibility could be as little as to say, "Hey, I'm going to donate 10% of the sale proceeds to," like I said, "a hard hit charity impacted by COVID." Or if you're, for example, a fashion brand, you could donate face masks. You're in the textile industry, to hospitals. Do something that shows that you care about your community and you encourage also spending obviously with your brand, so it goes hand in hand. That's one of the major changes even post-pandemic that will stick around, is that consumers are also looking basically to buy ethically in one way or another.

Jeff Bullas: Right. That's quite a... It's been rather wild, hasn't it? Ethical investing as well as causes as a marketing tool. You see there's a little bit if you don't do that the right way, it looks like you're just trying to ride the bandwagon and can be inauthentic.

Elma Beganovich: Yes. Again, as a company, you have to look at it strategically. Within your industry, what is it, for example, if you take out order food, you're ordering online food and you're doing delivery. Maybe do something that you can donate, for example, some food to frontline workers. Things that in order to be authentic, stick within your industry, obviously. Do something that is not as cumbersome on your business, but basically goes hand in hand in what you do anyway. You could create hand sanitizers, I don't know, alcohol, for example. In the industry, wine and spirits. Again, just see what goes hand in hand within your industry, and then take action. Again, to make sure that it's obviously authentic to your own mission.

Jeff Bullas: Yeah. It's trying to get that, I suppose, congruence, isn't it? That it actually aligns with your own message. Something that also is, if you're the owner of the business, is that you have, I suppose, a personal passion about that cause as well. That certainly would help because I'm going to back a cause because that's the latest trend at the moment. It's trying to really continue to be authentic and also then be seen as ethical.

Elma Beganovich: Exactly.

Jeff Bullas: Elma, thank you very much for sharing your story. Sorry Amra couldn't make it. It's just great to meet online, and this has been recorded from Elma's end on her phone. Again, technology wins again because we actually can still do this even though she's in Indianapolis, not New York, and she's on her phone. We just didn't get the video. All you've seen is my smiling, handsome face, of course. But the reality is that we're still able to do this via phone from somewhere on the planet. Thanks Elma, for your time. It's been a pleasure.

Elma Beganovich: Thank you, Jeff, so much for having me. It's been my pleasure as well.

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