Episode 148

Step-by-Step Influencer Marketing + Community Building for Rapid Growth

Adi Arezzini - Teami Blends
January 20, 2021
SUBSCRIBE: iTunesStitcher

How does potty talk on Instagram lead to a thriving eComm brand and a world-class influencer marketing program? Normally it doesn’t, but Adi Arezzini isn’t your typical eCommerce entrepreneur.  

Few companies run influencer marketing as successfully as Adi Arezzini.  And few people understand what it takes to build a brand and a community like Adi.  What started as discussions on Instagram about gut and bowel health transformed into a thoroughly engaged community and a brand that’s growing by leaps and bounds.  

Everyone says they want to build a brand.  Few know what that means.  Even fewer are willing to do what it takes. In this episode Adi and I break down her step-by-step approach to influencer marketing + brand and community building.  

Here’s a quick look at what we discuss: 

  • How to find influencers with REAL influence
  • How influencer marketing help Adi land in UltaHow to use a spreadsheet to build your first influencer lists
  • The difference between IG and YT influencers
  • How to leave nothing to chance and help influencers feel like you’re rooting for them and helping them succeed
  • When to pay fees for influencers vs. when to pay commissions
  • Tools to tracking and making influencer marketing easy
  • How spreadsheets can be your secret weapon when getting started with influencer marketing
  • Plus more!

Mentioned in this episode:

Sean Frank

Ridge Wallets

eE 138 Sean Frank Ridge Wallets

eCommerceFuel Forum

Boomerang

GRIN

Slack

Asana

Ulta Beauty

Adi Arezzini - Co-Founder and CEO at Teami

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Instagram


Teami Blends - Health Produces Inspired by the Natural Benefits of Tea

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another addition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and my goodness am I excited about today's episode. I've had the privilege of chatting with our guest multiple times, and I can tell you a couple of things. One, she's very bright, very intelligent. She's a hard worker, and she's doing some amazing, mind blowing things with her eCommerce brand, and so you're going to get the inside scoop. You're going to see how she's built this company, what her superpowers are, and what you can learn from her.

Brett:

I'm just absolutely thrilled to welcome to the show Ms. Adi Arezzini. And so, Adi, welcome to the podcast, and thanks for taking the time to come on.

Adi:

Of course. I'm excited to be here and share all the golden nuggets.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Just a quick teaser. You are an influencer, marketer extraordinaire. You go beyond that, because you know all about your product, and about getting people healthy and feeling the best they can possibly feel. We're going to really dive into that. But, before we do, what is your quick background? What was your journey to becoming an eCommerce superstar?

Adi:

Well, I did not know or think that I would ever be in the eCommerce world ever. Because, I didn't grow up necessarily being one with the computer life, or anything of that sort. Honestly, I graduated high school at the age of 16.

Brett:

Nice.

Adi:

I got out as quickly as I could, because I wanted to just go work full-time. I didn't go to college, and from a young age it was like very clear I had been working since I was nine years old that I needed to work, in order to make money, in order to survive. That was what was necessary. I definitely didn't have an easygoing upbringing. It was very much focused on working and surviving the best that I could for me and my mom at that time. And, when I finished high school, I worked all different kinds of jobs. I worked at a postcard marketing company. I worked as waitress. I worked as a nanny. Did anything that I could to make my rent.

Adi:

At the age of 19, I decided to join the army, which was completely, was something that I wanted to do, because I felt already at the age of 19 that I was run down. I was working 40 hours a week, paying my bills and not really going anywhere. I was like, "I need to take a break. I need to go have some sort of other experience." So, I joined the army, where I became a fitness instructor for combat soldiers in the artillery unit, which is basically like you get to tell boys to do push-ups, and crunches, and jump over walls. What could be better?

Brett:

Yeah.

Adi:

You have like 80 men in front of you, right?

Brett:

And those are like artillery. Those are the grunts. Lovingly calling them grunts, right?

Adi:

Yeah.

Brett:

But that would be the category.

Adi:

Yeah. Definitely. It's not the same as infantry, for example. They're a little bit different. I loved what I did. That's when I got really aware of fitness. Because, I myself was a terrible runner. I wasn't in shape. And going through the military bootcamp became in shape and had a really big admiration for fitness and health, because that's what I had to do for two years. I had to teach it for two years.

Adi:

Through that process, I actually ended up, during the army, developing terrible digestive problems. Because, the food in the army, I would say it's like prison food. Or, it's big cafeteria food. You're not cooking for yourself. You're not eating fresh vegetables, necessarily. And, over the two-year period that I was-

Brett:

It's just like they're just trying to pack you full of calories, right? Without a ton of regard to is this the best for you.

Adi:

Not only that, but you have to think about, they have to make food for two to three thousand people at a time, three times a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, they have to choose things that they can make in bulk, and that's not going to be necessarily always the healthiest or cleanest option. And, my stomach just started having terrible digestive issues. I became really addicted to coffee, where without coffee I couldn't really go to the bathroom. Anyone listening will know that it's become a lot of Americans daily routine. Like you drink your morning coffee and then you have your 10:00 A.M. poop. That's how it is.

Brett:

That's so true. Yes.

Adi:

It's just what it is.

Brett:

Yeah.

Adi:

I have to be real about it. And, that was fine. But, it became so bad that I just became addicted. I was drinking five cups of coffee a day at the age of 21, and it was really messing with my adrenals. It wasn't necessarily stimulating my digestive system anymore. And, when I finished the military, I was really looking for a natural solution to my bloating digestive and gut health issues. Because at the age of 22, 23, I looked like I was five months pregnant, or like a blown up balloon at all times. Nothing I was doing was working.

Adi:

So that's really the pain point of what I was trying to solve for myself, and then the whole story is that I actually did end up solving that problem for myself by teaming up with my business partner, who's still my business partner today. And our route to market was online, because who would trust a 23-year-old to go to Whole Foods and sell my product. I didn't know anything. So going online was almost like the only option. It wasn't a strategic option, necessarily. It was like that was what I was going to do because I could do it.

Brett:

Got it. Got it.

Adi:

That's really what started that direction.

Brett:

I love it. So the name of the business is Teami Blends. You want to talk a little bit about where the name came from, and then kind of what are your core products and what are you guys best known for? I know you've set the stage where people can probably guess what your claim to fame is, but talk through that a little bit.

Adi:

Well, the name Teami, I think that we were going through lots of different names at the time. And we knew that we had this detox program that was made of tea, and we ne needed to incorporate tea into it somehow. But, we didn't want to choose some sort of lame name that would also box us into a category. For example, like Honest Tea. It's just very old school and very, it will box you into something.

Adi:

And, I was more looking at companies like Apple, that I was like, "Well, Apple sells computers and iPhones, and they're not really limited by their name or by their company to what it is that they do." And, I wanted to choose some sort of small, short, iconic name like that.

Adi:

So we came up with the word Teami, which was like tea for me. And, it was super lucky that we did that, because it allowed us to expand our brand into what it is today, which is a true lifestyle brand that creates both wellness and skincare products, infused by the health benefits of tea. And so we did start with the gut health as the main thing, and then we came out with these tumblers that you can drink your tea on the go.

Adi:

Three years in, we saw that we were going to get capped, because our main bestselling product, 90% of our sales were coming from that product, which means that if that product becomes untrendy, or for some reason, people don't want it anymore for any reason, our entire business disappears. And so I knew that we had to expand into different areas, and I knew also that making more tea blends that didn't necessarily solve a specific problem weren't strong enough products to carry the business if something were to happen to our bestselling SKU.

Brett:

Yeah, then you're just competing with Stash Teas, or Tazo Teas or something like that, which is difficult to do. So, I love that. I think that's such great advice for someone starting a business, or looking to expand or start their next venture is name it in such a way that you can expand upon it. Because, one of the hardest things to do, and we'll pivot to this next is building community, and building trust, and getting people to really want to listen to you and want to buy what you have to sell.

Brett:

And so, getting in a situation where you can really only sell one thing is pretty dangerous, pretty risky. And, so you guys did a great job of setting yourselves up for the beginning, and then extending and expanding from there.

Adi:

Thank you. I appreciate that. It really did save us in the end, because how many times can you market that one product to that one customer? It really does mean that you churn and burn your customers at a faster rate than if you had 20 different products to offer them, or 50 different products. If they really had a great experience with the product that they tried, then they will trust you to try the other products.

Adi:

So, we as a company have a really high return customer rate, and just brand loyalty. Because, we have so many things that they can try and they really feel part of the brand from the inside.

Brett:

And it really gives you an opportunity. Another great point about this is it gives everyone an opportunity to buy the product they're most likely to say yes to. Because, some people aren't tea drinkers. I know that the tea is not about tea. It's about the detox. But some people are like, "Eh, tea. I don't like it," but they may really be attracted to your skincare product, and that's easy for them to say yes to.

Brett:

But then after they get to know you and they watch some of your videos, they may think, "Okay, okay. I'll try the detox teach, because Adi says it's amazing, so I'm going to do it."

Adi:

Right. It happens so mu ... You have no idea how much crossover we get. Somebody comes in and you can see that their first purchase was the detox program, and their second purchase ended up being a skincare product. What the connection is between the two, we don't know. We just know that the person now trusts us, because they had success with something, or they tried a skincare product, and then they bought our protein powder, because that's what it is that they needed. They wanted that next.

Adi:

They already trust the brand, and instead of having to do research and going to find another brand that they don't yet trust, they order from us, which is really cool.

Brett:

Love it. So, we're going to get into influencer marketing in just a minute, because that's something you're fantastic at. But let's talk a little bit about building community. Because, another one of your superpowers, I believe, is just your ability to create a video that's educational, and people immediately trust you and they want to listen to you. What are some of the keys to building community, and what are some of the things you guys have really gotten right from that aspect?

Adi:

Good questions. I think that this is one of the key things that make you a brand or some sort of what eCommerce seller selling stuff. It's like the main difference. When someone says they want to start a brand, I don't know if they really understand how much you have to invest in the people that are buying the products to actually make you a brand.

Adi:

Just because you're selling something online does not mean that you have a brand. And, a brand is something that is recognizable, and it's somebody that someone can see the logo, or the product, and they know what the brand is about. So, with using Instagram, or YouTube or social media, you have to be able to go to that platform and see what the brand is about.

Adi:

And you have to have a combination of education, and fun and engagement, and your products. Because, if you're only showing your products at all times, it's really hard to stand out from the crowd. What makes your skincare different than all the other skincare out there?

Brett:

Yeah, totally agree. It's one of those things where I think some people will want a brand just because they want the fame or the glory that comes with having a brand. But, they don't realize how hard it is to build a brand or what that means. And it actually means obsessing about your community, and listening to your community. I think one example ... You mentioned Apple before. Obviously, they're very good at branding in a lot of ways, and they obsess over things.

Brett:

Nike's also very good at branding. And think about even some of the stuff they've done, if we talk community, they've taken some social stands recently that wildly popular with a lot of their audience, and not so popular with other decent sized chunks in their audience. But, they really don't care about those that are not supportive of their stance, because they know their market, their core market. They know them, they love them and they support them.

Brett:

And so I think, one of the things, and it seemed like you did this really well, one of the keys to building a brand and building communities is listening. Like, listening and knowing what your community wants, and then delivering it, and delivering it authentically. So, any thoughts on-

Adi:

In order to break-

Brett:

how you've done that well? Yeah. Go ahead.

Adi:

Yes. In order to put that into layman's terms, how do you listen and how do you actually execute on everything that you just said? This was something that came naturally to me, and I saw it as a, I can say a super power. This is, I've been working on Instagram for about seven years with our brand. Instagram seven years ago was nothing like what it is today.

Adi:

So, the thing that I would always do is I would always communicate in a way that I would be talking to a person right in front of me. That is something that people just miss. They just miss that. So, if I was writing a caption or communicating to my audience, I would communicate to them like I would communicate to you. Like, "Hey, guys, so I've been thinking about something," and then I would talk to them about it, or I would ask them a question like, "How many times are you going to the bathroom a day? Like, be honest." And really talk to them in that way. And people-

Brett:

Did you get a lot of response to that question? Like, was that a question people were cool answering?

Adi:

Absolutely. One of our best like Instagram captions is like, "bathroom talk". You know? Because, that is-

Brett:

That's fantastic. Yeah.

Adi:

No one wants to talk about it. You know?

Brett:

Right.

Adi:

And, that kind of communication, which is asking questions very, in a clear authentic way, and then, we have a customer service team, and this is, again, how I built the business from the ground up, because it was my policy and then I put it into my business, which is that every single comment and DM must get answered immediately.

Adi:

So, we have people that their jobs are answering Instagram comments. And we have shifts. We have a day shift and a night shift, and a weekend shift. And, they answer those comments, and they answer DMs, and that aspect of it is what built the community. Because, they're getting not only like amazing responses, human responses. Not bot responses, not Vas. Real people that know our products. Someone will come in and ask us, "What do you recommend? I'm a mom. I just gave birth and I feel like low in energy. What do you think I should do?"

Adi:

Then, they can actually recommend via the DM products and link them to those products. And, people will ask us all sorts of stuff. And, the fact that they are getting a real human response and it's not a short response. It's a thought out response. Every time, it's a unique response, that has been major. And we've been doing that, you have to think about it, for seven years. And that's still part of the core operations.

Brett:

Yeah. That's awesome. And really, yeah, seven years ago, even a couple years ago, most companies weren't doing this. That was even, the word for it's conversational commerce, where the connections and those conversations we're having on social media and through chat and through SMS and things like that kind of replaces what used to happen if someone came into your corner market, and you could chat with them. But you guys were really, really pioneers as far as that goes.

Brett:

If you think about that, someone responding, a brand responding to your question in the moment, when you're late at night, you're a mom, you can't sleep or maybe you're just nursing your baby, and so you type in this question and then they respond immediately, man, how powerful is that? That you want to buy from that company at that point.

Adi:

Totally.

Brett:

That's awesome. Any other comments on that? If not, I want to move on to influencer marketing here pretty quick.

Adi:

I think the last thing about building a community is to know that you have to be really consistent. We post on Instagram every single day for the last seven years on stories in our exclusive Facebook group. And, we show them how much we appreciate them. That means that we're not just like, "We appreciate you." Like, we show them. We give them VIP exclusive access. We create excitement. I ask them questions. "Guys, what product do you want me to make next?" And they'll tell me. And I will go and make that product that they told me that they wanted.

Adi:

And so that communication, the asking and the delivery. We're not just asking for the sake of asking, but I'm asking for the sake of doing and executing on. So, they trust me and they trust the brand, because they've seen us expand over the last seven years from detox, to skincare, to wellness, and so on.

Brett:

Yeah. That's so awesome. Yeah, you quickly lose trust if you say, "Hey, tell me what you want to hear more of or what products you want." And then if you ignore that or don't act on that, it's like, well you don't really care. You know? That's a fact.

Adi:

So many people do it. So many people do it.

Brett:

They do.

Adi:

They're like, "What do you want to see from us next?" And, I never see that from them next.

Brett:

Right.

Adi:

I never see it happen.

Brett:

Yeah. Which, when you do deliver like you guys do, one that just builds the community, it makes it stronger, it makes people feel like Adi and her team are connecting or delivering, and then they're listening to me. But then also, they want to buy. Like, "I said I wanted that. You delivered it. Now I'm going to buy it."

Adi:

Totally.

Brett:

And so that's super powerful. Well, let's talk influencer marketing. This is another one of your superpowers. You guys are amazing at this. You built the business on this. As a quick reference, for those that have not listened, I recommend go back and listen to the Sean Frank episode. Sean Frank from Ridge Wallets. That episode's getting some traction, and it's being talked about in some forums, eCommerceFuel and some others. That's a great overview of how to do some influencer marketing.

Brett:

But I think what we'll do here, Adi, and you actually volunteered this, is let's maybe go step-by-step a little bit into how you run influencer marketing. And maybe kind of set the stage. Like, what influencer marketing has meant to you, and what platforms you run influencer marketing on. And then, after that we'll kind of get into some tactical stuff.

Adi:

Sweet. So, I want to be very, very clear. Influencer marketing has been and still is the number one traffic driver of cold sales and traffic to my website, period. It is the thing that I figured out because I wasn't a digital marketing nerd, in the sense of Google or Facebook. Those things, they seemed to expensive. And at the time, I wasn't there.

Adi:

I was like, "What can I do? How can I spread the word about my brand?" And I had to figure out something that seemed doable to me. And, seven years ago, I saw Instagram was being used very in the beginning stages for product placements. But, what I saw was being done really incorrectly was people would pose with a product, and they would say, "Hey, I'm using this. Go buy it."

Adi:

And, the companies, they were choosing influencers based off of how many followers they had, or vanity metrics. Likes, comments, and not really finding out which influencers actually had influence over their audiences. And, what that meant is in the beginning-

Brett:

Such a key point. Not all influencers actually have influence, right?

Adi:

And I know this. We've learned it the hard way. At the time, people were mainly using models to send skincare and wellness products, which is totally wrong, because the models have male followers. So, it just has, it has no value. It builds no trust. It just looks cool for a second. And, I just started going down rabbit holes on Instagram, and finding actual influencers which now are very, they're very clear to see that there's different groups, and niches of types of influencers.

Adi:

But still today, we have to go and we have to find the influencer, and vet them to see that they're actually influential. And we do that in a couple of different steps. That's just an overview, but I would like to just mention to everybody that this is still the main driver of our business. We have a team of eight people in-house that this is their job 40 hours a week. And, not only that, I want to double the employees in 2021 for how many people do it.

Brett:

Wow. Eight full-time people. Want to get to 16 next year. That is phenomenal. Let's break that down, then. Yeah, I would love to actually hear the steps of how you identify if someone actually is an influencer. But, is that the first step or is that something you recommend doing first as you're getting started with influencing?

Adi:

Your first step is what is your product, and what is the type of influencer that would influence your product. So, in regular marketing you could call that an avatar. So it's like who's your influencer avatar? Who is your person?

Adi:

For us, for example, people that work really well for us, like let's say someone's on a wellness journey, there's a lot of influencers that they track their progress of their journey to wellness, or their journey to their goal or whatever it is that they're doing. They might also be a mom. They might be a nurse. They might be this person that's on their journey to live their healthiest life. Right?

Adi:

Now, that person would be a really good person to include our detox program in their journey, because their followers, they already know that they are on a wellness journey. And so, for them to be promoting a wellness product doesn't seem strange. The product that your influencer is using has to be native to that influencer. If it's not, then it also will upset their followers, and it will not create purchases. I can give you a specific example.

Adi:

When I was first starting this seven years ago, I started working with a lot of food accounts, because food accounts had tons of followers, and their videos would get tons of engagement. I was like, "Okay, great. Maybe we'll just have this recipe, and we'll have the food next, and we'll have the product next to it, and they're going to mention it," and then just not sales. I tried it out with many different accounts. No sales. Another niche was yoga instructors. Nada. It just didn't work. It didn't resonate with our audience.

Adi:

And, I did a lot of testing and I figured out who was the right person for me. So, the first thing that you must do is find out which group of influencers will represent your brand. And it has to go in specifically with them. Like, even fitness instructors, like really mega high end fitness instructors, only a specific amount of them worked for us, because the people that are following them are following them only for fitness advice.

Brett:

Yeah.

Adi:

That make sense?

Brett:

That's so fascinating. I think one really important lesson here is you could, you could get started on this process and identify some influencers that you think would just be perfect. You try it, it doesn't work, and then you say, "Eh, influencer marketing doesn't work for my business."

Adi:

Exactly.

Brett:

I think really it's just that you haven't quite identified who the right influencers are, and where someone has to be in their journey to mean they're likely to be a customer. And, that they're going to take the advice of an influencer. I kind of see, like on the food side of things, like a food influencer where maybe somebody's following that just because they like their recipes, and they like to cook. Maybe they eat healthy, or maybe not. Still, I think that it's totally smart to try that.

Brett:

The yoga instructor one. That's a surprise to me. That one seems like that would've been a slam dunk for you guys. Any theories on why that didn't work?

Adi:

This is seven years ago. So, a lot of their content was videos about yoga. And, anything that was not a video about yoga, like a specific posture in yoga, it would upset their audience. That's the thing. So what we started doing, one of the things that I noticed is, okay, accounts that post selfies are accounts that will do well with our products, because they post that kind of content.

Adi:

And so, we found that accounts that don't post a lot of themselves in a selfie format, they have a hard time representing product. Because, how can they show that they're using that product to their audience in an authentic way? But, to make this more simple to people listening, you need to create an Excel sheet. The first thing that you do in that Excel sheet is you create tabs at the bottom. And this is an old school way. I have a much newer modern way, but it's a software that I use internally that I created internally. It's not something that I sell or anything.

Adi:

So, anyone that needs a simplified free way, this is how you would start. With an Excel spreadsheet, or a Google Sheet. We'd have five tabs at the bottom, and each tab would be a different group. It would be like fitness, yoga, whatever it is those five groups are. Marketing. Whatever that is. And just try 10 in each group. And you put their names in the column, and once you've identified this is the person that I want to work with, you reach out to them. And you reach out to them by doing two things. You email them and you DM them at the same time.

Adi:

And you must do both. So, you email them, and in the email you must not use a template that is very long and that doesn't make any sense to the person that you're communicating with. You do need to take a minute of your time and actually go research that person and say something in the first line that will communicate to them. And that doesn't mean like, "Hey, Brett. I saw that you love marketing." You know?

Brett:

Yeah.

Adi:

That doesn't mean that-

Brett:

Or, "I love your website at url. Here."

Adi:

Yeah.

Brett:

Like, okay, yeah. That's clearly a template.

Adi:

Or like, "Brett, as the CEO of OMG Commerce," you need to actually say something that will mention something real. Like, "Hey, Ashley. My name's Adi Arezzini. I'm the co-founder and CEO of Teami Blends, and I love that you have three kids. Your son looks so cute in the post on Wednesday."

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Adi:

You need to be very specific in what you say. And it really only takes maybe five minutes, right?

Brett:

Yeah.

Adi:

So, maybe five minutes.

Brett:

And I've had, and just to do a quick followup on that. I have people reaching out about the podcast a lot. Sometimes I'll have people say, "Hey, I love your podcast. I really loved this episode." It's whatever the most recent episode was. I'm always like, "Okay, yeah hard work there." But I do like it when someone says, "Man, love the podcast. I listened to this episode when you and so-and-so were talking about this. That was amazing." I'm like, "Okay, this is real. This person really took the time to email me. This is not a template."

Adi:

Right, and that's just like 101 sales. Right? The rest of it can be a template, but the beginning needs to be real. Once you've reached out to them, and you've DMed them, "Hey, Brett. I sent you an email. I'm really excited. I really want to," blah, blah, blah, whatever it is that you're going to say.

Adi:

So, you message them, you email them. Once you have them interested, you then need to sort out if that person is somebody that you're going to pay a flat fee or you're going to pay them commission. So, we have two teams within our influencer marketing structure: a commission team, and a paid team, which is something that's really important for new people starting out.

Adi:

I would not pay anyone a flat fee until you know which accounts work and don't work. You need to build confidence in your ability to gamble, because it's a gamble.

Brett:

It is. Yeah.

Adi:

You're seeing all of these metrics, whether they're on YouTube or Instagram. How do you know who to pay $1,000 to and who not to? Right? It's very questionable. So the only way that you're going to find out is by-

Brett:

So, stick to commission based first until you get things figured out.

Adi:

Right. So, that's what I did. And, through working with hundreds of commission based people, which again, I would start with 50. 10 in each group, and then go from there. I realized, "Okay, good. This account made me 10 sales. That was $500 in revenue, and let me go find more accounts like this account and see what happens, and see what will happen if I pay them $100 for a post. Will I still make $500?" And you're able to kind of go in and take risks in that very conservative way in the beginning.

Adi:

So, again, back to the Excel sheet. You have listed them. You have contacted them. You have to followup. This is, again, 101 sales. I use a shortcut called Boomerang, which is a Gmail shortcut.

Brett:

Yeah. Great tool.

Adi:

I highly recommend it. I Boomerang almost every email that I send out. Because, I send out so many emails, even to my employees. I want to make sure that that person responds to me. Whatever it is, even if it's not influencer marketing I'm like, "Hey, can you make sure to do," blah, blah, blah, I want to make sure that I get a response. So I always make sure to Boomerang it back to me. Like, send it back to my inbox if the person doesn't respond in X amount of time.

Adi:

That ensures that you're not wasting your time sending out all these emails, and hoping and crossing your fingers that someone will respond. Because, that's not going to happen.

Brett:

Yeah, or relying on yourself to remember, right?

Adi:

Exactly.

Brett:

To remember to followup. And so Boomerang's a great tool that takes that off your plate.

Adi:

Right. So you're going to Boomerang these for a week later. And, if they don't respond, send them a followup. Boomerang it again for a week later. I usually followup with someone-

Brett:

And that followup, that second time you reach out, you're doing that DM and email as well?

Adi:

Usually, yes. But, mostly via email at that point.

Brett:

Okay.

Adi:

Just because it's a little bit faster. And, once you do get somebody to respond, you're like, "Okay, great. This person's doing commission. I'm going to offer you free product and 10% commission." And then you need to also have some sort of agreement on what they're going to be doing for you. So, if it's Instagram, is it going to be a feed post? Is it going to be stories? Is it feed and stories? What is it going to be?

Adi:

And, you kind of tell them this is what you want them to do, and then they agree to it. Only after they've agreed, do you send them product. You don't send out your product, your cost of goods just blindly. A lot of people do that, and you're just losing product without any follow through, without any agreement with the influencer on what's going to happen.

Adi:

Something that's very specific to Teami that not a lot of companies do is that we'll usually lock in three to four deliverables in the beginning. So, it's not just posting once and then it's over. Because, the first post might not get any sales. We need to try something else. We need to kind of see how it goes. And, that goes back to creating the community, which is creating that relationship. You actually care about the influencer as you would care about a customer. You're building that relationship with them.

Adi:

The more that you build that relationship with them, they feel a personal connection to the brand, so they'll do you favors. They'll do you favors. They love working with you. You know?

Brett:

You feel like a good partner at that point, and they can tell that you're interested in their success. Their audience's success, but their success as well. So, when you're kind of framing that, are you saying, once they give initial agreement together, "I'd like to work with you," then do you say, "Great, here are the three things we recommend you do. That you do a story and a post like this." Do you spell that out pretty clearly?

Adi:

Yes.

Brett:

Or, do you kind of let them do what they want to do?

Adi:

No. We spell it out pretty clearly, specifically on Instagram. And on YouTube we're like, "Okay, we want a two to three minute inclusion at the beginning of the video, at the middle of the video. Something like that. And, this is kind of a trick that I have our girls do internally. Which is, when the person's getting ready to post, the influencer, it's really good to give them examples from their own content about what you want them to do. So, go to their Instagram page-

Brett:

Love that. Yeah.

Adi:

And say, "Here are three posts from your page. Do exactly like this." Because, sometimes the influencer can get scared or stuck like, "How do I promote this product? How should I do it?" Be like, "Do it just like this," or here are three YouTube videos. From this minute to this minute, this was amazing. Do something like this. So, you're actually controlling-

Brett:

And I love that you're giving examples from their content. I think it's one thing. And you could give examples probably from other influencers, and that would be useful too, but from their own content, that's brilliant.

Adi:

Because, it's their people. It's their followers. And, you would be shocked at the difference between a post that fails and a post that succeeds from the same influencer that we have worked with, the same influencer getting paid the same amount of money. One succeeds and one fails. Why? The content. The content did not resonate. It just wasn't good. And that's when we started having to, anyone that's paid, we have to approve their content, especially on Instagram-

Brett:

Makes sense.

Adi:

Beforehand.Because, if I'm going to pay them $1,000 for a post, and I can see that the content is not good, I'm not going to pay them that money. I need them to retake that video or retake that video, that picture. So, yeah. Once you have gotten their content and it has been posted, which again, you're following up like, "Hey, so how's next Thursday? You ready to post?" Like, it's a lot of trailing, and tracking and controlling the process.

Adi:

From reaching out, to following up, to getting them to agree, to sending our product to then getting them a time and date that they're going to post and getting their content. If they're a commission, I wouldn't even bother to vet their content first. I wouldn't even bother to do that.

Brett:

Yeah, it doesn't matter, right? It just takes up too much time at that point.

Adi:

Especially if you're doing it at skill, which we are. But, you must give them a code, and with that code you're going to track their success. And so, it's like a last click basis. And, you are tracking their codes, and through that you can say, "Wow, this influencer had five codes used. This influencer had 10. This influencer had 0." And start to put together some common denominators why some don't work and some do, which is how I know that food doesn't work and yoga doesn't work. But, girls with curly hair work. But, girls that shop at Target work. And, people on wellness journeys work. So, that's how I know.

Brett:

Wait a minute. Why the curly hair? You've peaked my interest. No idea?

Adi:

No idea. I can tell you why, actually. Girls with curly hair, whether it's African Americans with curly hair or Caucasians with curly hair, curly hair is like, "Oh my God. What do I do with my hair?" So, if you have an influencer that is talking about the products that she uses for her hair, and she's recommending those products, her audience then goes and buys those products, trusts those products, uses them, has great results, and anything else that that person recommends is now trusted, right?

Brett:

Interesting. Interesting. That's so great. Yeah.

Adi:

When you have a problem ... Curly hair accounts, they are targeting people that also have curly hair and have similar problems to them. Same as wellness accounts that are on a wellness journey. Their followers are also on a similar journey, and so, when they're recommending things, it makes sense because they are looking at someone who's tried and done it. Curly haired girls are great recommenders, at anything. They can recommend anything.

Brett:

Interesting.

Adi:

Yeah.

Brett:

Super, super interesting. Great. So then, kind of what's the next step in the process?

Adi:

After you have seen results, then it's rinse and repeat for that same niche. So, you need to find out who was that person? What about them specifically? And you will find thousands of other accounts that look just like them. And you need to work with them. I call it within my own company, we call it flooding that niche. And make sure that every influencer within the curly hair girl accounts uses Teami.

Adi:

It becomes this like loop, where everybody sees Teami in that one group. And so, that's what we do. For example, we are currently, we're working heavily with keto accounts, so that would make sense for our product. They can use our Greens Superfood Powder. They can use our tea that is keto friendly. And, we just work with a ton of keto accounts, whether they're YouTube or Instagram, and we just kind of flood that niche. And then when we feel like we're done, we kind of move over to another niche that's similar to it. Maybe it's gluten free.

Brett:

Yeah. That's so great. And, so are there any tools that you recommend to make this easier? What are some of the ... I know you guys are so serious about it you built your own internal software that you guys use. But, any tools for tracking, for reaching out? I know we've already talked about using spreadsheets for keeping track and using Boomerang to remind you to follow up with somebody. But, any other tools you can recommend?

Adi:

Those are the free tools. Paid tools could be, GRIN is a platform that's pretty popular right now. It's a great way to seed and find influencers. But again, if you don't know what keywords you're searching for, you're going to have the same problem as if you were checking in on your phone.

Adi:

But, if you do know the right mindset of what is the group that I'm trying to find, and what would that influencer put in their bio? You can also search by keywords in someone's bio. But, you have to have the mindset first that before using a tool, any type of tool. And then, something else that we use a lot is Slack or Asana. And we do that to, we use Asana for influencer team. Because, you want to see where that campaign is at at all times.

Adi:

So, once you've gotten Ashley's commitment that she's going to post Wednesday at 3:00 P.M., whatever that time is, you put it on your calendar, and then you followup with that person that same day, "Hey, Ashley. It's Adi at Teami. I'm so excited for your post today at 3:00 P.M." It's very, very monitored. So, you have to be willing to do the work yourself, and then train someone else to do the work for you. I would hate to burst someone's bubble and tell you that it's super, super easy and that it's like very automatic. But, it's not.

Adi:

Once you figure it out, you then train somebody else to do it, and you can scale by having multiple people in your company do it. But it's not the same as paid ads. You know what I'm saying?

Brett:

Totally. Yeah. This is very much a process. It's a system. You have to think, these influencers are, they're either really busy, because maybe they have a job and they're doing the influencer gig on the side, or maybe they're a little bit of a prima donna and an influencer, or they're a creative type. Their priority's not your promotion and your post, necessarily. And so, you've got to make it as easy as you can for them. I love those reminders.

Brett:

I can tell just by the way you're framing it, all those reminders are upbeat, and they're positive. It's not like nagging or anything like that. It's just, it's helping. I'm going to help make this easy for you, so that you can win, we can win, your audience can win, and that you're leaving nothing to chance, though.

Adi:

Yeah. Nothing to chance. You control it. You are in charge, from start to finish. We also had a creative solution recently. Like, if you're going to be working with someone, let's say they're an Instagram account, and you did their first post, and you want them to do a story mention, and you want them to give their community an update about that product that they're using, but they respond and they tell you, "Oh my God. I'm on vacation and I left the product at home. I don't have it with me."

Adi:

We recently thought about just another solution. You just can take it from your archives and be like, "Hey, guys, remember when I was talking about this product three weeks ago?" And you can pull it from your archives or show it. And you can authentically update your followers without having the physical product in your hands.

Adi:

So, we found all these sorts of solutions for kind of things that influencers will tell us on why they can't do something. And, we'll be like, "Oh, well we totally understand, but here's something that you can do." And we always kind of find solutions like that.

Brett:

Yeah. That's awesome. Sounds like Instagram and YouTube, those are the two main platforms where you're looking for influencers. Is that right?

Adi:

Yeah.

Brett:

Any differences in the way you approach the two? I'm sure a lot of the outreach and some of that is the same, but any differences in the two platforms?

Adi:

The main difference is is that YouTube takes longer to close a deal and to get the content up. And, we have a lot more Instagram than YouTube because of the speed of it. But, YouTube is incredible. It gives consistent sales for longer periods of time, even when you're working with the micro or the macro. But, YouTubers also tend to price themselves a lot higher than Instagram. And, so it's a give and take. We have a blend.

Adi:

I definitely want to be focusing a lot more on YouTube in 2021, because I would say yeah maybe like a 70% Instagram, 30% YouTube right now. And that's just not because we prefer Instagram. It's just we've been on it longer. And, a lot of the celebrities that we use, or big influencers, don't have YouTube. They're like just Instagram people. But, we are branching out into YouTube as well. I definitely recommend doing both.

Brett:

Yeah. Totally makes sense. And I think that's a great way of positioning it with Instagram. You're going to be able to find lots and lots of influencers, and pretty quick to get an influencer to create some content. Creating an Instagram story can be very fast. But YouTube content's a little different. There's more production time. It's usually longer content. But, it also lasts longer. And it may just get stronger and stronger over time, because of the way Google, YouTube's algorithm works, and ranking, keyword ranking and stuff like that.

Brett:

So, that's fantastic. Anything else that we haven't mentioned that's going to be next in your approach to influencer marketing? Like anything you're really excited to test next? Something that's maybe not too top secret?

Adi:

Yeah. I think we really haven't dove into TikTok very much, just because we haven't had enough staff to do it. TikTok right now doesn't have a really easy way to have codes. Like, we wouldn't be able to track that person's code very well. We could see traffic to the website from TikTok, but being able to add an affiliate code and all that stuff. I think that in 2021, we need to try TikTok, after adding more staff and being able to just spend time on it, that's one of the things. But one thing I did want to mention is, someone listening could be like, "This is so much work. I'm definitely not going to do it. What's the benefit of this?"

Adi:

The added benefit, aside from the traffic to the website and purchases is name recognition. I could tell you that so many people, no matter if my business is doing well or not well, internally, I will see people and they'll be like, "Oh my God. Teami's killing it. I've been seeing you guys everywhere." And so, that has a benefit. It's PR.

Brett:

It's huge. Yeah. And I love how you're going deep on one category. Like, keto, or those on a fitness journey. Because, it's kind of one of those rules where kind of the rule of if you hear something three times, it's like everywhere. Where you see one influencer talking about a product and you may think, "Oh, that's kind of cool. I like that, and maybe I'll try it." You hear two people talking about a project and you're thinking, "Man, this is pretty popular." But you hear three people talking about it and you're like, "Hey, they're everywhere. Teami's everywhere. I've seen different influencers talk about them."

Adi:

Yeah.

Brett:

Yeah.

Adi:

And we can really flood people's feeds in any way, shape or form. And, it has created a brand for us that I don't think that without influencer marking that we could have become as big, as known. We, three years ago, got into Ulta Beauty. We're in every store in Ulta Beauty.

Brett:

Wow.

Adi:

They took us because of our social media presence.

Brett:

Because of the power. Yeah. Yeah.

Adi:

They're like, "Wow, you guys have a brand, and we see that." When Ulta is running a promotion on our brand for Thanksgiving or Cyber Monday and we send people to Ulta.com, they see an increase in their sales and they're very happy with us. So, it provides other opportunities. It provides opportunities for me to be on podcasts with you.

Brett:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Adi:

And things like that thar our brand I don't think would have if we didn't have the exposure. It's a lot of exposure, and it creates a lot of affinity for the brand.

Brett:

Yeah. I love it. You guys are killing it. I love your brand. I love your site. Products are awesome. Keep up the good work. It's so cool. Adi, for those that are listening and thinking, "Man, I've got to follow this more," obviously they should go visit your site and get on your list and buy your products and see what you're doing. It's a great way to learn. So talk about your website just really quickly and then how else can people connect with you?

Adi:

Yeah. They can go to www.teamiblends.com, which is our website. They can go to @teamiblends on Instagram. They can follow me personally at @adiarezzini. You can really DM me, ask any questions. I'm here for you guys. And, that's how to basically get in touch with me or our brand.

Brett:

Sweet. I will link to everything in the show notes. This will be available at OMGcommerce.com/podcast. Adi Arezzini, ladies and gentlemen. Adi, this was so fun. You crushed it. This was awesome.

Adi:

Had so much. Thanks, Brett.

Brett:

Awesome. Thanks for coming on. And, as always, thank you for tuning in. I would love to hear more from you. What would you like to hear more of on the podcast? Where would you like us to go next? Do you have any guest suggestions or ideas? Reach out and let me know. With that, until next time. Thank you for listening.

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