There’s no shortage of research illuminating consumers’ preference to hear from someone they respect versus directly from a brand. Once a fledgling tactic, influencer marketing is now a pivotal extension of many PR strategies and is expected to represent $10 billion in annual marketing spend by 2020.
At Hiebing, we tailor each influencer program around the digital habits of the unique target audience it’s designed to reach. Once we’re aligned on goals, we identify partners whose recommendations will carry the most weight—from celebrity partners and video influencers to top Instagrammers and bloggers—and strategically elicit content that accurately represents the brand without impeding the creator’s own voice and style.
To delight guests infatuated with new flavor combinations, Culver’s decided to add to its Flavor of the Day frozen custard lineup for the first time in six years. After developing and testing 16 new recipes, six favorites were greenlighted—among them, Cappuccino Cookie Crumble, Blackberry Cobbler and Dark Chocolate Decadence.
It was the perfect opportunity to create an exclusive influencer event, so we invited seven of our favorite custard-crazed influencer partners from previous activations to visit Culver’s headquarters in Sauk City, Wisconsin. On the agenda? A Q&A with Culver’s CEO Joe Koss, meet-and-greet with co-founder Lea Culver and a tasting of all six new flavors with the menu development team that created them. The program was created to drive engagement, and when all was said and done, we exceeded our goal by 25 percent.
“I am a firm believer money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly buy Culver’s frozen custard, and I don’t believe I have ever seen a sad person eating frozen custard. Sad people eat ice cream.” ~ Fox Valley Foodie
“My favorite thing about Culver’s frozen custard is that – after 30 years – they are still making it fresh in the restaurants in small batches every single day.” ~ Spaceships and Laser Beams
Gilmour’s nozzles, sprinklers, hoses and accessories are easy to operate and designed to add enjoyment along the path to watering and cleaning success—living up perfectly to the brand’s mission to provide watering solutions so users can achieve the outdoor space they envision.
Knowing the “outdoor space” category is rich with influencers who have amassed a loyal and engaged following, we worked with Gilmour to execute a social strategy that leverages the credibility of expert contributors. One such example is CaliKim. This YouTube influencer—known for her quick, simple and inexpensive gardening tips—created six videos to help Gilmour’s social followers solve their biggest gardening challenges.
Our process was designed to maximize CaliKim’s credibility. We mined for six topics around which our target was seeking advice (such as the best time to plant and water on vacation), created a framework to address their questions, recommended the appropriate products to highlight and shared a couple talking points. The rest, from script development to execution, was up to CaliKim, so she could ensure the authenticity her fans would expect.
The plan worked. Gilmour’s social followers spent twice as much time with CaliKim’s videos than any other video content from the brand.