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An influencer talent agency secures brand, endorsement, and campaign deals for the talent they represent and manage. They also help creators build their own personal brands and businesses while the creators focus on content development.
Each influencer talent agency may offer its own range of services, but generally speaking, an influencer talent agency negotiates contracts, seeks new opportunities, and expands its influencers’ reach. Examples of other services include producing merchandise, coordinating event appearances, developing apps, and coordinating collaborations with different influencers across different platforms.
The number of influencers an influencer talent agency represents varies with the size of the agency. Some agencies only represent a small number of creators in certain industries while others represent a large number of creators in a multitude of industries.
We had the opportunity to speak with Dan Levitt, CEO and Founder of Long Haul Management, a digital-first talent agency management company. To date, Levitt has directed over 200 successful brand integrations with notable brands like Google, Microsoft, Starbucks, NBA, 2K, Seatgeek, Audible, and more.
Thanks to Levitt, we got behind-the-scenes knowledge of what you should know when working with an influencer talent agency. Let’s get into it, Q&A style.
Q: What is the process when brands and agencies want to work with your talent?
A: “Fortunately we’ve been doing this a long time so it’s a long of brands and agencies we’ve worked with in the past and had great experiences with or have worked with our talent in the past. Let’s say a new talent or agency approaches us or we reach out, the most important thing for us is to know what their goals are and what their objectives are. Is it a campaign that’s more direct response where the main metric is conversions and driving sales, is this more of an awareness campaign, which talent do they want to work with, and what are the talking points? Once we have an idea of what the brand wants, we can present options that we feel are applicable.”
Q: How do talent agencies seek out opportunities for influencers?
A: “Sure, there’s a number of ways. Fortunately, I’ve been doing it for so long a fair amount of our business is recurring where we’ve partnered with brands in the past and made sure they had a good experience. We have done all we can to dive deeper with the creators we have worked with for that brand and try to bring in new creators as well.
But, when I first started out I did not have those relationships and so I was very proactive, when I saw a brand spending with other creators I would try to find out who was in charge of the spend. So, I would reach out to people on LinkedIn in digital. It’s really about our job, solving the problem, so that needs to be the frame. ‘Hey, you have a budget, you’re looking to get people aware of this product or service. If you’re looking to reach this kind of audience, we represent those creators. I would love to talk, here are examples of stuff we’ve done with other brands.’”
Q: Specifically speaking to influencers, on average, what types of campaigns do they get excited about and get more into?
A: “It depends, I think one’s where they are given more creative freedom, I mean especially now with creators that have been on platforms for a while, they know what is going to resonate with their audience.
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Ideally, a best-case scenario for us when we partner with a brand is 1) the creators are already excited about and are a fan of the brand and 2) it has a significant budget or resources that allow a creator to do something they might not already be able to do. So, ‘hey we’ve always wanted to do x video, but we need a little bigger budget because we have to buy all these props’, now when they do that video creators can say ‘I’ve been wanting to do this video for a while, thanks to X brand we’re able to do this. Here’s why you guys should love this brand, I love this brand, now they’re helping me do this stuff for you guys, here’s some information.’”
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Q: When looking for new talent, what qualifies a new influencer?
A: “It’s quite harder now to reach out to new talent and have them respond. Fortunately, most of our clients (influencers) have been from referrals from other clients we represent. I have never been a fan of the biggest roster. With that said, new talent is the lifeblood. For our business, #1 is, do they fit in with what we already do? We try to take creators who create content in the verticals we specialize in. We can take them in and help them monetize and grow their business.”
Q: You mentioned how all agencies have evolved and the industry has widened, what have you seen first hand, how have you seen it progress?
A: “It used to be lone-wolf, one-person teams like myself. Now there are 50-60 people in a company. I’ve kept my shop smaller and focused, but certainly, it’s very fertile ground. As the platforms evolve, there’s a creator life that ebbs and flows. There’s always new talent looking to grow on platforms and there’s going to be people like us to help build businesses around them.”
Q: What do you think the differences for talent agencies are between working with influencer marketing agencies vs. directly with brands?
A: “The agencies typically have more expertise and more experience. On the other hand, when working brand direct, we are given more brand leeway because it’s like ‘hey we trust you, you’re the experts.’ Typically, the process just takes longer, the lead time takes longer, and there are more levels of approval.
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The agencies have optimized their operations to streamline things. There are times where it definitely makes sense to have an agency mediate in the middle. Especially with new entrances in the space on the representation side that don’t have as much experience. Agencies see problems well before others and have processes to try to nip things in the bud before they even become a problem. Influencer marketing agencies are also probably going to better know if talent will work, or if they won’t work. Any extra vetting and expertise in the space like this, which is still relatively new, is important.”
Q: How do you determine pricing for influencers and campaigns?
A: “Whatever you can get. It’s still kind of a bit of a wild west. We do have some kind of structure in terms of how we typically price our clients. There are certain brands and agencies that we know have larger budgets, there are certain brands that we know have less, and there are some clients of ours that say if it doesn’t hit x rate, we’re not going to do it while others are flexible. So it is somewhat standardized but also flexible. It depends. Hey, if there’s this creator who’s trying to buy a house and save up, there might be a moment in time where they’re more willing to accept less than others.”
Pricing can change with a number of factors. Check out our influencer pricing breakdown here for more info.
Q: How do you think the talent agency will continue to evolve in the coming years?
A: “It’s going to get more competitive. We represent gaming competitors and have since 2012 and the past few years have been insane. This past year, not that it needed validation, but I think that outside of the space people started to realize the impact that these people can have and so, it’s only going to get more competitive and more aggressive. I think there will be a ton of acquisitions, and I think you’ll see more consolidations and more entrance. As platforms continue to evolve, there will be more and more people interested in the space, which I think you know is a good thing.”
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the influencer talent agency industry just as much as we did. Levitt’s insight showcases how fluid and adaptable the industry is, as well as how creators crave creative freedom when partnering with brands. It will be interesting to watch the industry evolve in the coming years with a rise in competition and influx of new influencers on a variety of different platforms.