Largest Warm Contact Influencer Marketing with Intellifluence's Joe Sinkwitz

September 15, 2021 | Episode 9

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Largest Warm Contact Influencer Marketing with Intellifluence's Joe Sinkwitz

September 15, 2021 | Episode 9

Becoming Legends is back with Joe Sinkwitz as a special guest that has even Eric Grundhoefer excited to talk with him. Intellifluence is a 5-year-old company built out of Joe’s need to always be working on something and recognizing a need that he could build and work to create. 

Intellifluence is all about helping match businesses to influencers that can help them get the word out there. Plus, it gives you a payment and messaging platform all in one. That way you can work closely with your influencers all on one platform. 

And this idea just came entirely from seeing a need and Joe realizing that the methods that existed were difficult to use and frustrating for business owners. Hearing his story is a great way to learn how you might be able to create your own business or at least identify where future opportunities might be. 

Learn about how Joe built his business, where it came from, and how he was able to create a uniquely positioned business. Plus, if you’re already a business owner you might get to learn details about a business that could help you!

Plus you’ll get to learn more about what it looks like for the influencers, and how Intellifluence can really help streamline the process for influencers and businesses both. 

This is a huge and very new field, so a lot of this interview is really focused on this industry and why it might be a good option for you and your business. Joe and Eric are both great with brands and promoting businesses, so it’s no surprise this interview really speaks to a lot of the best sales and customer nurturing processes out there. 

Transcription

Eric: We are back with Becoming Legends. I’m your host Eric Grundhoefer. Today, I have with me Joe Sinkwitz of Intellifluence. Joe, thank you so much for being here. I really, really appreciate it. I’m really excited for my audience to hear about this. I checked out your site. It’s beautiful, by the way. I’m excited to bring — This is much different from who we’ve had on the show before because it’s such a newer thing. So, I’m really, really excited that you’re here. Thank you for being here. Please do me a favor, tell the audience who you are and like what you do and why you do it.

Joe: Sure. So, my name is Joe Sinkwitz. I’m the CEO of Intellifluence, which is a large SaaS platform for influencer marketing. In terms of why I do it, well, I can’t stop not doing something. So, Intellifluence just happened to be the thing five years ago that we needed to build. My background was in organic search. So, I know you’re talking reputation management. In that space, played with it. We did a lot, a lot, a lot of link marketing back in the day and some dirty stuff, which is a lot of fun. We could talk about it sometime. But five years ago, we had a need. I was doing a [inaudible 00:01:32] for the Cameron family. They’re building a cell phone that you can vape, which is crazy as it might sound. But we ran into problems where you couldn’t use AdWords, you couldn’t use Google ads, and you couldn’t do Facebook. So, we were like what do we do? And the only thing we could do was to get product, put in the hands of people. Like, well, this is really inefficient. You had to go to talent agencies to find the right people. And we’re software guys, let’s build something. So, we did. And then it’s been a five year journey to get where we are now.

Eric: That’s absolutely amazing. I’ve been obsessed with influencer marketing since I heard the term. And I think, I honestly believe it might have been around the same year, like 2016-2017. I was a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, which I’m sure you know, for like a really long time. And he’s the first person I ever heard say that, which I know it’s not that far ago, but it is kind of a long time ago because technology moves so fast. So, when you say oh, like 2016, like 2017 it’s first I heard of it. But really it wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t really a thing like it is now. It’s so normal now. But I absolutely love that. I think it’s amazing. So, you purely just got the idea because AdWords was — [crosstalk] weren’t — Yeah, you had to.

Joe: We had to do it. Yeah, exactly. So, we recognize that the only way to really move product in some of these industries was to connect with influencers, but we just didn’t like the process through which we could do so. So, Gary was actually pretty early to the industry and he has like the VaynerMedia and a lot of stuff and he invested in some platforms in the early days. So, I look at it and say okay, what are influencers anyways? It’s really just the outgrowth of that initial promise that we all had about social media of there’s going to be a new way to buy and sell online. There’s going to be new ways to make connections. It took a long time to even get to the point where influencers could be even like a job title. 

You know, you look at the Kardashians, it took a while before — Like, wow, boom. Instagram, huge. You know, when they really made a dent and they’re taking percentages of companies for products that they’re pushing, it became a real thing. And then from that, there has been a lot of trickle down. So, now you have from the very small Vayner influencers to those mega celebrity stars, and everything in between. It’s going to be a growing market for a while, I think.

Eric: That’s absolutely — I absolutely agree. I think and some people are like I’ve heard people, the people that are like trying to predict stuff and make rash decisions, like oh SEO is dead or pay per click is dead. I don’t think anything’s dead, but I really believe that obviously, it’s swaying towards the influencer marketing, it’s swaying towards people having the attention as opposed to the search engines and stuff like that for certain things because that’s just how it is. So, this is absolutely great. So, if I’m a, say I’m a potential customer just so everyone’s hearing they can kind of see the process. The site’s gorgeous. I just started a second business by the way. So, we created a bar lounge, it’s called Royal Nutrition. We’re in Westchase. I’m selling protein shakes. And what I want to do is, it’s basically a bar atmosphere and a bar lounge and I’m not doing promo for myself, I’m just giving context. Bar atmosphere, bar lounge, but remove all the alcohol and insert protein shakes. Now say I want to get an athlete there and give them free supplements, free meals that I’m making and free protein shakes, I reached out to you. How does that conversation go, what’s the process look like after that?

Joe: Yeah .So, actually, that’s a fairly straightforward example, actually. Because things like nutritional supplements, and locality are two major use cases. So, in your particular case, what we’d probably do is I’d walk you through on a demo, because we have a SaaS platform and we sell a service. So, we’d sort of like walk you through to let you see, hey, are there anyone — Is anyone in your rough geographic area that’s going to meet a couple criteria? You know, do they look like they’re into fitness? Are they into nutrition? Or are they potentially in the green living? Going down some categories. Select down even further, like, well, where do you want them to apply influence, since you’re doing nutritional supplements and stuff, they could be an athlete really big on LinkedIn, but it doesn’t matter to you, it doesn’t need to be on YouTube. Maybe there needs to be some really good video content and that’s why you want YouTube so that they can have a walk through and get the experience of the bar, but with the protein shakes instead of the alcohol, that would be a big consideration.

Does it need to have some specialized tracking? Maybe you have a really neat promotion idea where you’re going to do discounts for the person, obviously, apply some cash, but then something special for the audience. And so you might need to structure things in a certain way where maybe Instagram is difficult to use because of that. Maybe you need to do YouTube and then embed it in blogs, and then take the blogs and share it on Twitter. So, a lot of those things start to come out through a demo to try to get an understanding of what’s going to move the needle the most for you, and then let you play with it. Because I’m a big fan of letting data decide where things are going to go. I’ve had a lot of preconceived notions only to get completely abused by them once it’s in the real world settings. So, that’s probably how I’d work, walk you through, let you play with it. If it works, awesome. If it doesn’t, we have the easiest way to cancel ever. Click. Done.

Eric: That’s amazing. So, the demo is kind of like a discovery. So, it’s like, hey, what are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to do? This is what I’m suggesting? Does that sound right? Does that line up? Because, right, immediately when you said that, which is really neat, and this is again, what I do too, social media, all that stuff. But my mind never once, when I asked that question in real time, my mind never once went to what platform, because I didn’t know your process. So, what platform would I want that influencer to be on? To be honest, when I hear influencer, I think YouTube and Instagram only, and I know others exist. But that’s where my mind goes immediately. So, I was like, oh, right there. But I never once thought, oh, photo versus video. Or do you guys even break it down even farther? So, story, reel, photo, maybe even podcast? Maybe even something else? Is it all the type of content too? And does that predicate off the time that the person is spending creating that stuff or how does that all work? 

Joe: Yeah. So, the way we do it, like when we do the campaign builders, we have a smart wizard for building a campaign, we always like to start with a goal. So, we try to get an understanding of are you just trying to get people to show up in the bar? Is it just purely attention? Or are you looking for specific sales metrics? Is there a certain traffic you’re going after? Having the goal in mind allows you to then to kind of understand what type of influencer is going to work? Is it going to be the celebrity influencer, like the big athletes? Is it going to be someone that’s just more of an expert level? Is it going to be a whole bunch of micro, going through those channels first. From there, then it helps to understand, okay, you understand the network, that are probably going to be the best fit, you understand the type of influencer, then your plugin certain — playing around with compensation ranges, and then trying to figure out, well, do I need video or just static [inaudible 00:08:45] going to work. So, it kind of walks you through. 

And then from there, it’s a matter of how much do you want to spend? Because our contact’s warm contact only, everyone we have physically signed up to work with us. So, when they do that, they give us some rough guidance on hey, here’s my minimums to get out of bed in the morning. If it’s under like 100 bucks, I don’t want to see it. Or someone might say if it’s under 10,000 I don’t want to see it. That helps you to kind of narrow down what’s realistic. It’s not hard, fast values. But just by having the data and then having a process walkthrough help you to kind of build out reasonable expectations. Say, well, there’s actually 5,000 people in my group that might make sense. I just want to pitch them sequentially and then see what happens.

Eric: That’s absolutely amazing. And that makes perfect sense too. Like, I almost feel like I asked a stupid question now [inaudible 00:09:37] so it makes so much sense that you have that setup already. 

Joe: It took us five years.

Eric: I know. Like, it’s amazing. And that leads me to like, I just think that it’s so incredible how far this has come so we were talking about the internal kind of what the process looks like as a customer. Now I kind of want to pivot for anyone. That’s an entrepreneur based off of something you just said. So, you have all these relationships with people. So, for anyone that has an idea that’s listening and wants to execute, so obviously, you have a very thorough knowledge, you can build this stuff, you can build software, you have that working for you. But say there’s someone else out there that’s like that and doesn’t know where to start. 

So, you have this kind of concept. What was one of the first things you did to kind of push this out there? Because it’s harder than we have a website, let’s go knocking on doors. Like, it’s really hard because the level of person you have to get, so even if they’re a micro celebrity, is still celebrity. So, how do you get, like, break that barrier to talk to their people and their people talk to their people? Like, how does that all work, putting this in play from the start of it until what it is now, because I’m sure that this was a really big undertaking to try to get this out there as opposed to something like mine where it’s just like knocking doors and then if people like you and want to work with you. You know what I mean? 

Joe: Yeah, absolutely. I think it was constant headaches and hiccups. When we first launched back in 2016, December 2016, no one wanted the product because we built the wrong thing. When we initially built it we had like a slim software that was campaign management, but it required brands to do a lot of heavy lifting to pull people into a campaign. And so we have a lot of relationships, we approached the people that we knew, said hey, would you use this, would you pay for it? And most of them said no, I wouldn’t on either. So, we had to keep pivoting and reiterating just to build the right product. When we have the right product it became a chicken and egg situation. So, you have brands, you have influencers. If you don’t have influencers you can’t get brands. If you don’t have brands, you can’t get influencers. So, it’s this constant pounding the pavement digitally, we’re very good at outreach. 

So, we were constantly doing outreach, giving them reason to be there, promised them, delivered on the promise, back and forth, back and forth. And so we like to view it in terms of building a house, just one brick at a time. And so we just kept laying bricks, and we just did the daily dirty work over and over and over. And that’s the only reason why it worked. It wasn’t because the software is beautiful out of the gate. I mean, you know, I like it a lot more now than I did in the very early days. But even still, a couple years down the line, I’ll look back at what we have now and say, whew, thank goodness we don’t have that anymore because we keep figuring out ways to make it better for everyone involved. And there’s no magic solution. You just have to keep executing and then try to grow that Northstar aspect of your product.

Eric: That’s absolutely incredible. I love that. So, I can’t imagine — I absolutely know what you mean about the chicken in the egg situation. Like, that had to be a nightmare because it was you need one to have the other. And like, who’s going to be the first to jump on. And then as you slowly get them I’m sure it gets a little easier. What does that look like as far as, do you pitch them? To get your first one, are you like, hey, this is our concept, come on, we need to start? Like, what do you offer them, if you don’t mind me asking? I don’t know if that’s too personal, like I’m just trying to learn and understand a little bit

Joe: Yeah. So, like on the brand side, it was actually a little easier. There’s processes you could do through like Product Hunt. And if you do well enough there, you can get invited to do something like LivingSocial, or AppSumo. So, that’s one path. On the influencer side, a lot of it was promise-based. Like, hey, we’re building this, we want to feature you, you’re good enough for our network. We’re going to do a lot of heavy work for you, and we’re going to make it really easy for you to just give some basic information, and we’ll get back to you when things are ready. And we just did that over and over. 

So, we raid communities on Reddit and Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube just trying to pull people in and let them know, like, when we’re doing the outreach like this is coming. It may not be ready yet, just please give us a little bit of information and bear with us. And if it doesn’t work out, we’ll recommend you to someone that’s better than us. And that worked. I mean, not every conversation was positive of course. But you keep doing that and you revisit the ones that turned you down initially to let him know, like keep them up to date. Like, hey, we launched these 17 new features in the last month. This now might be a little bit better for you. It just never ends. It’s just a matter of like that constant squeezing of the toothpaste tube to try to get people to take that action that you want.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. So, you’ve been around since 2016, I obviously did a brief search on you, like you have great stuff everywhere. You have great reviews on this. Like, I said the website is gorgeous. I’m looking at everything now. My question for you now is, so we discussed the back end side of things, we discussed the startup and how to get it going. Once you found that you have it, like you said, it took you a while. Once you found that you have it, how are you branding this out there for this reason? I don’t think that there’s a lot of things out there like yours. I think that people will lump you into a category like other things. So, I want to very specifically say that. I’m not saying that there’s a million like you out there at all. You’re the first person I’ve come across that does this, honestly. So, this is amazing. 

But there’s, I’ll give you an example. Like, Trusy Social and stuff like that, I know all these people lump all these things in and we’ll get you more followers, and we’ll get you brand deals, and everyone says they could do everything. How do you brand yourself specifically online to stay away from those things that almost seem kind of spammy? Again, I’m not lumping you in with them. I’m saying for an audience member, there’s all these things out there. And anytime there’s something like that, or you see an ad for something like that. People are always searching. I know I do searches, is Trusy Social legit? Is this legit? So, how do you kind of make sure that you’re not lumped in with those people, and how did you go about branding yourself to really execute your vision?

Joe: Well, the branding got easier, the bigger we got. The way that we like to differentiate ourselves is to tell people that we’re the largest warm contact influencer marketing network because everyone signed up. So, we’re not just a big scraped list database that people, you know, influencers may not even know that they’re in the list. And that comes up a lot with some of the competitive calls that we’re on. So, that’s the differentiator, and then I tell them a little bit about our future. Our goal is to democratize influence so that anyone could purchase the influence of anyone else, anywhere. That’s years down the — That’s like the Microsoft, a computer on every desk thing. That’s a very far future vision. But it allows me to say, here’s where we currently are. We’re the biggest of this type right now. Here’s where we want to be. And that alone tends to help differentiate and helps to understand that are these guys a scam? No. That’s fairly easy to do. I mean, that’s the reputation side that you [inaudible 00:16:59], where if you’re listening to the right directories, if you have the right level of reviews coming from experts in the field, you can bypass that. 

When I moved from organic search into influencer marketing, I thought I might be able to carry over a lot of the expertise that I had in SEO in terms of people following me and knowing that I’m good at what I do, and that it’d magically appear. And it didn’t. So, I was like, okay, well, how do we do this? So, I buckled down, I wrote a book on influencer marketing, that seemed like the easiest thing to do. And I took over a year of writing, and then half a year of editing and whatnot to make that work. But it did. So, those are the little differentiators. Like, if you’re coming in cold into an industry, but you had success elsewhere, it may not immediately carry over. So, you might have to do that legwork all over again, just to be recognized once more.

Eric: What’s your book called?

Joe: The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing. It’s on Amazon, but really, people could just go on our blog. A lot of it is sort of re-posted there. You know, where over time, we try to break down some of the conversation we were having earlier about how do you go about influencer selection? Like, as an influencer, how would you approach whether to take an offer or not? How do you negotiate? What do you do when it’s done? Like, doing post mortem analysis, and that sort of thing. I just got a little tired of the lip-sticking of the industry where people [inaudible 00:18:20] like it’s just posting a pretty picture online. Like, no, there’s a lot of math and analysis that has to go behind this. Otherwise, you’re just guessing. And if you’re just guessing you’re wasting money.

Eric: Exactly. So, this is great. I just found you on Amazon, by the way. So, guys, everyone listening that wants to get this book, The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing. I think that that’s incredible. How long did that take you to write?

Joe: It took a little over a year because my goal to myself I think was like a chapter every two weeks.

Eric: That’s pretty crazy. 

Joe: It took awhile.

Eric: That is crazy. And then did you have any ghost writers or was it all 100% you? 

Joe: Yes, it was 100% me writing. And then Andrew Evans edited on our side. We worked with CopyPress. I’m an advisor in their company, that very large content company that helped to format it specifically so we could get it submitted into Amazon and then from there.

Eric: That’s phenomenal. I absolutely love that. I love it for a ton of reasons. Because you’re kind of, in a sense, making yourself an influencer in the way in what you’re doing. So, it’s genius. I love everything about it. Also, too, when you Google your name, it pops up in the search results and that’s what I’m all about is, like that’s what we do for people. So, what happens — [crosstalk]

Joe: That’s on purpose. 

Eric: Yeah, exactly. So, that’s absolutely fantastic, man. I love that. Joe, thank you so much for being on. I’m going to wrap it up there for everyone listening. Guys, you guys can get Joe’s book, The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing on Amazon, or he said it’s on their blog. And that’s Joe Sinkwitz at — Shoot, I just lost the URL. Oh, my gosh. 

Joe: At Intellifluence.com.

Eric: Intellifluence.com. I apologize. Joe, thank you so much. I really appreciate you being here, and like, I can’t thank you enough.

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