Brands + Influencers: A Two-Way Street
How brands and influencers need to work together and what it takes to move from the influencer business into entrepreneurship
The relationship between a brand and an influencer is a two-way street. Just like the relationship between an influencer or a brand and their audience is also a give and take. But even though that sounds obvious, even the most successful brands and influencers are struggling to get the most out of their content.
Tessa Barton, AKA Tezza, has experiences on both sides of that spectrum. She is an influencer-turned-entrepreneur, whose company — also called Tezza — has seen its ups and downs in the five years she’s been working on it.
Before starting her own company, Barton says that she had to build a personal brand first. To do that, Barton took ambitious and forward-thinking steps to make her name known.
“The first big client I really wanted to get was Urban Outfitters… so I would basically buy their products and I would create, I would go so hard and create amazing content that I knew they would want to see, and I would email it to them, I would tag them, I would DM them,” Barton says. “That always has been a part of my strategy… just as an individual or creator showing what you can offer a brand, what you can provide and why you’d be a valuable asset to them, whether it’s amazing imagery or you can drive sales or you’re just the biggest fan in the world of the brand. Those are all tactics that I think brands actually use and look for when hiring creators and influencers.”
Her strategy worked out well, and soon enough Barton was working with major brands around the world and getting more and more chances to level up.
“I worked with TRESemme for so long and my content always performed really well — they loved the direction I took things, the amount of time I spent on things — and so after a few years, they started to hire me as a creative director and photographer for the brand and I got to shoot other influencers for their campaign,” Barton says. :So I think [brands should] think outside the box. Use these creative people to your advantage, because we’re sitting here. That’s more exciting than just a quick post, and I think everyone’s just craving just personal touch points right now, so anything you can do that is going to be just a level up from just a post.”
Being a creative director was a taste of big things for Barton, who has always been inspired by creating and encouraging others to find their artistry as well. She followed that passion into entrepreneurship when she decided to launch her own product. Unfortunately, though, there were some business lessons Barton needed to learn before finding success.
“When we announced what we were launching, people were like, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is genius,’” Barton remembers. “I was like, ‘Yes, we’re going to make a lot of money. This is going to be amazing.’ Then we put it up on the site and we got like two sales. We were like, ‘Okay, so this is a horrible idea.’ It really was a lesson that just taught me so much that I implemented … It was just like, ‘Wow, you do have to talk about something so many times.’ It doesn’t matter, even if you’re an influencer, even if the interest is there, you just have to talk about it. You have to get it into the right hands. You have to constantly be presenting the idea. Especially now, I think we’re inundated with so … We’re seeing so many products all the time, so how are you making it personal? How are you telling the story? What is the product? Why does somebody want it? Why is it going to benefit their life?”
The Tezza brand has grown from those two sales and now also includes a photography app that has been catching fire. To hear more about it, tune in to Barton’s interview on Up Next in Commerce.
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