The thing we learned early on, and will continue to be true, is we have to be able to pivot. We have to be super flexible, because you don’t know what’s coming around the corner.
Kristy Sammis is Co-CEO and Founder of CLEVER, the first full-service influencer marketing agency. Sammis is also the Founding Chair & Executive Director of the Influencer Marketing Association. Over the past decade, CLEVER has worked with such notable clients as Ford, Disney, Amazon, LEGO, Unilever and Delta Airlines. In addition, the agency was named one of the Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies by Silicon Valley Business Journal.
The author of “Influencer Marketing for Dummies,” Sammis was recognized in Forbes’ Top 40 Over 40 and FOLIO: Magazine’s Top Women In Media.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Kristy Sammis discusses the evolution of influencer marketing, authentic voices, and the remote workforce.
The Authentic Voice (0:44)
We’re at this point where the most popular influencers are really off the cuff and hard to nail down; they’re not corporate or traditionally brand safe.
As pioneers in influencer marketing (before it was even called influencer marketing), CLEVER matches authentic voices with brands. CLEVER’s motto is “Real People Tell Real Stories,” which includes identifying and vetting the right nano- and micro-influencers for authenticity and brand alignment.
These more niche influencers tend to have loyal communities on a variety of platforms; subsequently, they enjoy greater influence within those markets.
“We go where the influencers go and that’s often driven by new platforms,” says Sammis. “We have to stay flexible and open and then figure out what’s coming next.”
Full Disclosure (4:40)
People love to find out that you’ve done something shady and put you on blast for having done it. But you want to avoid that and it’s not hard to avoid.
When a brand and influencer work together, it is imperative that the relationship is disclosed fully. Adding words like sponsor or ad, for instance, allows an influencer’s audience to know they are being compensated for the relevant post, photo, video and/or story.
“The important thing is to just make sure that you’re disclosing any sort of material relationship you have with a brand,” says Sammis. “Make sure that the people who are reading your review or your rave or whatever you’re posting understand that you have a relationship with the brand.”
If you fail to do so, not only can you lose your credibility with your audience, you can also get in trouble with the FTC, which requires you to disclose such information. For example, in October 2021, over 700 influencers and businesses received a notice from the FTC of penalty offenses. This indicates that you are “on notice that the misleading use of endorsements could lead to major financial penalties.”
Remote Control (7:45)
One of the best parts about a virtual workforce, aside from not paying exorbitant fees here in the Bay Area, is that we hire from all over the country.
CLEVER was founded as a remote-first company with a working model that focuses on culture, collaboration, and innovation. “If you get good at working virtually, if you get good at working online, you can still have a really strong culture,” says Sammis. “You can still have good face time.”
Supporting employees to work from wherever they may be encourages flexibility and empowers them to live where they want to live. It also allows CLEVER to attract the best talent and improve productivity.
During the Covid pandemic, 83% of employers say the shift to remote work has been successful for their companies; 81% of people are satisfied with their productivity while working from home.
Lawyer Up (10:05)
We found an amazing attorney when we first started who set things up that have borne out 12 years later. Spending that money was definitely the best money we ever spent, even when we weren’t sure we could afford it.
Meeting with a startup/small business attorney before you launch your business may be one of the best moves you make. According to Kristy Sammis, this was the best professional advice she ever received. A business lawyer can explain what you need to do to start a business and answer your legal questions. But more importantly, a lawyer can help you minimize any risks you might come across.
Risks, contracts, financial setup, intellectual property and bylaws are just some of the critical areas an attorney can advise you on.
Now Hear This (10:55)
I love audiobooks; I have them going all the time.
Sammis is an avid listener of page-turning, murder mysteries and suspense thrillers. Her favorite author of all time and “fantastic mystery writer” is Harlen Coben. His newest book, “The Match,” was just released.
Coben’s award-winning novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times); “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times); “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle); “superb” (Chicago Tribune); and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
For more information on CLEVER, check out their website and follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and on Twitter at @RealClever. To stay up to date with Kristy Sammis, follow her on Twitter at @kristysf, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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