Influencers. They’re everywhere! Do you even remember what life was like before they were a thing?
When you think about it, influencers are a type of entrepreneur. They have brands. They market. They sell. The really successful ones wind up dominating their chosen fields.
Not all entrepreneurs are influencers, but nearly all influencers are entrepreneurs. The similarities are definitely there. Even young entrepreneurs who have zero desire to blow up social media can learn a thing or two from their famous peers. Entrepreneurs may have invented the game, but influencers are changing the rules. Here are a few tips for keeping up.
1. BUILD YOUR BRAND
One of the defining characteristics of an influencer is that they have a brand and they know how to use it. Whether it’s makeup, cooking, or gaming, the most successful and famous influencers have mastered a corner of their market.
Brand-building happens at the start of your enterprise. Some questions to get you started include:
- Who is your target customer?
- Who is your competition?
- What sets you apart from that competition?
- What’s your company’s “personality?”
When you mention a certain influencer’s name, most people automatically know exactly who you’re talking about, what they do, and what they’re like. That’s because influencers are good at self-promotion, and they bank on that thing as their brand.
One thing young entrepreneurs can do differently is to market their business, not their personality. You may love makeup, but unless you’re doing makeup tutorials on YouTube, that’s not your brand. Your brand is the organic, allergen-free lip gloss you make from scratch and sell on your website. Of course, you should infuse your personality into the business. But that should not be your brand. Your brand is high-quality, hand-made lip gloss.
2. ENGAGE WITH YOUR FANS (CUSTOMERS)
Influencers really put the “social” into social media! They Tweet and respond. They live chat. They post photos, videos, and stories. They’re candid and personal. They speak directly to their subscribers and fans.
For young entrepreneurs, this translates to excellent customer service. As a small business CEO, it’s your job to connect with your customers at all levels. This means attracting new ones, keeping the current ones, and addressing the concerns of the unhappy ones.
Influencers would be nowhere without their massive amounts of fans and subscribers. And entrepreneurs will never find success without happy customers.
3. MAKE MONEY
While influencers generally have lower startup costs than young entrepreneurs, the goal of both groups is to make money.
For influencers, their startup costs include things like:
- Lights and backgrounds
- Products to try and review
As a young entrepreneur, your startup costs generally include:
- Manufacturing your product
- Web hosting
An influencer’s goal is to acquire enough followers to qualify for sponsorship. If they’re successful, they’ll receive free products to use and review. If they are really successful, they’ll make money from advertisers and merch.
You, on the other hand, will make your money by selling your fabulous products and offering top-notch service to your customers. What you can learn from influencers is how they present a quality product (themselves) that makes customers (their sponsors) want to spend money.
4. FILL A NEED
What makes influencers so popular is that they satisfy a specific need for their audience. Makeup tutorials. Fashion reviews. Travel ideas. Even unboxing videos.
Successful young entrepreneurs also fill a need. They are expert problem solvers. However, rather than posting videos and photos (or only posting videos and photos), young entrepreneurs provide a product or service that will help make customers’ lives better. Small pet care. Private violin instructions. Organic meal delivery. Party planning.
Influencers give their fans what they want. So, too, should young entrepreneurs. For you, this means researching your market and investing in marketing techniques with high chances of success.
When influencers disappoint their audience, they hear about it. When your customers are unhappy, they’ll tell you. Remember to stay professional and courteous no matter what happens.
5. FOLLOW A CAREER PATH
Once an influencer reaches a certain level of success, they’ll often expand their brand to other fields. A YouTube fitness star, for example, might partner with an established consumer brand to release their own yoga mats. Successful gamers might sell limited edition keyboards. Eventually, the influencer has gone from Instagrammer or YouTuber to major business mogul.
That sounds an awful lot like what young entrepreneurs do!
The career path of a young entrepreneur should be a little tidier than that of an influencer. Meaning, instead of waiting to be approached by sponsors and corporations, you should have some idea of your business direction.
- What does growth look like for your enterprise?
- How will the profit be spent?
- When do you expect to see certain levels of success?
While entrepreneurs and influencers can achieve epic levels of success in both money and fame, the path for influencers is a little less uncertain. Young entrepreneurs have more control over their businesses. Product pricing, marketing strategies, and milestone timelines provide a much clearer path for you.
6. INFLUENCERS AND ENTREPRENEURS CAN WORK TOGETHER!
Although influencers and entrepreneurs have much in common, there is one big difference: influencers promote and sell other people’s products. Entrepreneurs sell their own.
Why not partner up with an influencer? If they’re going to talk up products they love anyway, why can’t it be your product?
An influencer can be a great brand ambassador for your enterprise. You offer free products or buy paid ads. They tell their thousands of subscribers how great your product is. It’s a mutually beneficial business partnership. You can even sweeten the deal by offering a discount code for your influencer’s followers. Once those followers see how great your product is, they can become loyal customers for life!
In a way, influencers are a type of entrepreneur. They are your peers in this industry. And just as they have learned how to market themselves and run a business from entrepreneurs, you can look to them for inspiration on how to grow your enterprise.
Young entrepreneurs who attend high school in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we offer and how to apply.