Business Creators

“I paid $20,000 to an influencer and got ZERO sales.”

LinkedIn Thread Zero Sales

Do you want to know why I felt a desire to start Creator Hype? Because of posts like this: ‘I paid an influencer $20,000 and saw zero sales.‘ It’s not that the post is wrong because it’s not. That was their experience with influencer marketing. They tossed $20,000 at someone and they saw no sales. It’s not the first time I’ve seen something like this – and it won’t be the last. You see, influencer marketing is the wild west. Many creators don’t understand the business of working with brands. As such, they take on brand deals without considering the point of the campaign. Conversely, brands don’t understand the world of creators. They’ve heard about the gold mine of influencer marketing, and toss money into it without doing their research.

It’s a perfect storm. But it need not be! Influencer marketing can deliver great results – but it’s not a get rich quick scheme!

Zero Sales, Zero Research

Shut Up and Take My Money

So, let’s first address the post (and then we’ll link some comments).

I keep hearing this from people, and even my own clients. They keep throwing money at influencers with no real ROI.

For starters, it sounds like your clients and marketers don’t understand influencer marketing. No one should be throwing money at anyone without understanding what you’re investing in. With content creators, you need to research who they are, learn their audience and what your relationship will result in. Not all content creators will result in direct sales any more than a billboard ad. As a content creator, you need to learn and be honest about what your audience may deliver. If a brand ONLY wants direct sales, and you don’t think you can deliver that – DON’T do the campaign

Never mind the time and energy spent in trying to find the right one.

It’s clear you have not done the proper research then. If the brand says they did the research, and the end result was zero – they didn’t do the research. I recognize the tone of this post is that influencer marketing is trash… but it negates all the brands who have had incredible results from working with content creators. Granted, lots of campaigns go bust… but welcome to the world of marketing! You think Pepsi thought this ad was going to damage their brand? That said, fake following/engage is rampant among content creators. It’s why brands need to start weeding out those with fake followings

Is it just me, or would it not be better to spend that budget on producing content your customers actually love?

Heh. As a content marketer myself (I write content for brands when I’m not creating my own content), this felt like an odd comment. Clicking her profile… “we specialise in developing memorable brands through a robust digital strategy and signature content.” Ah, now that makes sense.

The Comments Section


I’m not going to go too deep into the comment section. Most are self-promotional for different services. Others are businesses that connect brands with influencers (we’ll review some of them). Many were unproductive commentary from marketing dinosaurs using ‘zero sales’ as a weapon. But here are some of the comments that provide value to this conversation:

  • Jessica Langer, PhD: Make sure you’re working with the right influencers, who have the right audience. Make sure you know what their engagement analytics look like. Make sure you have a product-influencer fit, and that you can properly track ROI.
  • Sebastiaan Goed: Influencer media drives awareness and if you are lucky it might bring some sales. But the main purpose of “branding” is improving brand/product awareness. Which means it’s far away from the actual purchase moment.
  • Patrick BalyanI’ve worked on too many campaigns and have seen both successes and not. I’ve seen influencers charge over 10k and have done super ROI and others which have not work. The key is repetition and consistency so work overtime with the creator to make your 20k work.
  • Simon Tucker: I think that part of the problem comes when the brand/agency doesn’t look much further than the number of followers. Or perhaps they have used a platform that connects influencers to brands, but the influencers have submitted themselves to the platform without any validation before they are represented. The trick is to get under the hood and actually validate that audience.
  • Lee MurrayInfluencers work but it needs to be more of a partnership than a “one time throw money at it” approach.
  • Meilani IntanBefore choosing the influencers you’re targetting, please evaluate their background, how they communicate with their followers, their experience with promoting products before, and most important is their CONNECTION with your product. A little research is needed for a good ROI.
  • Alex BurtonInfluencers are great for starting or contributing to a conversation, but just a one-off product plug? Not good enough. It’s the same for branded content, but most brands continue to trip themselves up there by focusing too much on their marketing messages instead of the audience.
  • Vitalia KhouryYou can end up paying 50000$ for an ad in the top magazine or on TV and rest assured that people won’t even pay attention to that ad while influencers have real followers who believe and trust them.

The Takeaway from Zero Sales

Look, there’s a lot of messed up garbage going on in influencer marketing. Right now, brands focus on the number of followers/likes/views above anything else.  A such, a lot of brands are not getting value. Conversely, a lot of small creators are forced to sell out for less than they should charge because they don’t know what they are worth. Influencer marketing is a mess, and most influencer marketing companies are just cashing in on this. It’s sad. So when I read posts like this, it lights a fire under me to to do something. There’s so much potential to work with incredible creators who are creating amazing content! But the solution isn’t ignoring influencer marketing in favor of more TV ads, click-display ads, or content. Influencer marketing can be great and deliver huge results – we just need to clean up the mess first.

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