Ep 144: How To Get Bigger Brand Deals with Eric Dahan

Hey Brand Builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for tuning in to listen to this interview. We are so excited to bring you this information and wanted to let you know that, Hey, there’s no sales pitch coming. Ufrom anything that we do with this is all our value add to you and the community. However, if you are somebody who is looking for specific strategies on how to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and we offer a free call to everyone that’s interested in getting to know us and is willing to give us a chance to get to know them and share a little bit about what we do. So if you’re interested in taking us up on a free strategy call, you can do that at brand builders, group.com/summit. Call brand builders, group.com/summit. Call. Hope to talk to you soon on with the show.

Now, y’all know, I don’t very often bring someone on to this show that I don’t personally know or haven’t seen speak or something like that. And occasionally we get those cold pitches and they make it through our team because of how relevant they are for you. And this is one of those I’m excited to introduce to you and really meet along with you for the first time. A gentleman named Eric Dahan and Eric is the co-founder and CEO of a company called Open Influence. And he’s a graduate from Pepperdine University and I’ll tell you what they do in just a second. But he was on the Forbes 30, under 30 list in 2017. And his company’s clients include people like Disney, Google, Amazon, Facebook into it Unilever P and G Coca Cola, Pepsi L’Oreal Under Armour and a whole bunch of others.

And so what he does is, is he’s basically an ad agency. His client is the company, but what open influence does is they source influencers to help place ad spend to help their clients accomplish their ad advertising goals. So he’s looking for people like you probably that are listening to say, who has the audience that my client is trying to reach and helps to identify them, contact them, negotiate the deal, create the strategy, and just kind of oversee the whole campaign so that his clients spend their advertising dollars well through influencer marketing. So with that, Eric, welcome to the show. Awesome. Thanks for having me. Is that a pretty accurate description of what y’all do? I could not have said it better myself. You nailed it. Well, awesome. So, so that is, that is so great. I’m so excited about it because I feel like this is coming up a lot for our clients.

You know, some of our clients have really explosive growth where they’ll, you know, like I think of one of our clients who went from zero to half a million followers on Tik TOK within 60 days. And now all of a sudden she is like in this world of brand deals and trying to navigate it. And so I guess what I, I would love like if, if, if I put my influencer, if I put myself in the shoe of the influencer, what I really want to know is what do I need to know to help your clients be successful? What are you looking for? You know, when you identify influencers kind of, how do you go about it? And, you know, let’s just start with that.

Yeah. Yeah. So you know, like you mentioned, we represent the advertisers and when we start off the process, it’s really all about finding the right influencer for that campaign. And you know, typically we’ll work with, you know, dozens to sometimes even hundreds of influencers on a given project. But we, we use the data first and foremost really find out who’s the right match. And so we look at you know, we look at things like our size. We look at audience metrics, we’ll look at impression rates as well. But also like just what you talk about and how does your audience engage, which is really the first and foremost most important thing is when we’re working with a brand, we want to find influencers and creators that you know, really just having an audience that will be very receptive to that kind of messaging to that kind of branded content.

And so we’re looking at things like past sponsorships, we’re looking at how your audience reacts to different subjects and different pieces of content. And so if you’re an influencer, for example, we’re running your videos and images through image recognition or seeing what’s actually in the content itself, we’re looking at keywords that you may be using such as hashtags or mentions. We’re looking at freeform text and all this comes together to let us know. You know, how does your audience react when you talk about a certain thing, do they engage in lean forward or do they kind of tune out? And one example, it could be like, you might describe yourself as a fitness influencer, but you know, when you talk about yoga, your audiences are really engaged, but when you talk about boxing, they really engage in lean forward and they, and they really engage in that kind of content. And, and that tells us you’re going to be a much better, a much better match for a brand looking to talk about boxing, maybe like an Everlast, as opposed to an aloe yoga or Lu lemon. And so, you know, that that’s sort of first and just really looking at the data and understanding that, and then in terms of what can influencers do or creators do to make,

So hold on for a second. So I want to stick on the data, cause we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re huge data people, and we love data dashboards and we love doing studies and all that. So how the heck do you know my audience metrics? Like, clearly you can tell audience size, but how do you know how whether or not they’re engaging and what the impressions are like, how do you see that as an, as an outsider?

Yeah. So some data we can’t get as an outsider and we only get, once we start working with influencers, but we work with thousands of influencers a month. And so that gives us access to more of those lower funnel metrics, but at a high level you know, we’re, we’re pulling a lot of data from a lot of different sources from a lot of different platforms. We’re marrying that with with other data that we get from different data providers and really most importantly, most basically, you know, you post a picture on the beach, we’re looking at how your audience is, you know, engaging, how are they liking that? Are they commenting? What are they commenting? So we’re taking all that public information. We’re putting that side by side. So we can say, you know, when Rory talk, you know, post about, you know you know, going surfing his content does really, really well. His audience really engages on average, as opposed to when he talks about, you know cooking. Right. And so, you know, and, and so these are just random examples, but

Not very often that Rory Vaden talks about cooking. I mean, let’s be, let’s be, let’s be honest. I, I, outside of like, geez, I’m not, I’m not adding much value to the community there.

Well, you know, and maybe it could be entertaining if you do start talking about cooking, you know? I, I’m a terrible chef. But my girlfriend gets, gets a laugh out of me trying to cook. So, so clearly there’s something entertaining that

You’re saying that you’ve got data sources like these kind of like aggregators or whatever, you’re pulling those in, you know, to your company. And then at some point when you research, you literally just go to the person’s profile and like, look and see, do they have comments? Do they have lots of likes and views and saved? Well, I guess you can’t see saves. But is that what you’re saying? Like part of it is just looking at their profile.

Well, I actually a lot more sophisticated than that. So, so we’re pulling information directly from the platforms we’re pulling information that’s publicly available on the web. We’re then marrying that with, with other data sources that, that we might be able to pull. And we’re, you know, we built a proprietary system. That’s bringing this all in. And so rather than someone just looking at your profile and saying, Oh, here’s what you tend to post about. You know, we’re, we’re running this through our machine learning and AI, and we have hundreds, millions of posts that we’re analyzing. And so I could actually look and say, here are all the different keywords you talk about here, all the different, you know, here’s how many times you had a wine bottle included every one of your posts here’s the average performance when you do it, here’s how you perform.

You know, here’s how your audience engages when you do sponsored content versus not sponsored content. Here are the 20 brands you, you, you mentioned in the past 180 days, so we can get really in-depth with that. And then we could use that to surface. So I could say I wanted to find an influencer. You know, coming back to the yoga example, I want to find an influencer that performs really well with their audience when they talk about yoga on, you know, on YouTube and Instagram. And, and I could type that in I’ll, I’ll find that people, I could sort that by engagement rate, I could sort that by number of posts, if we have the data, we can look at impression rate and, you know, our video views. And then we could say, okay, here are the people that are going to perform the best. And these might not be the people that are, you know, when you think about yoga, they’re not maybe the first names that come to mind, but these are the people who have a lot of influence in that category that you’re not necessarily thinking of as a brand.

Interesting. So do you ever furnish that kind of data back to the, to the influencers or only when you contact them and say, Hey, did you know that when you post about boxing, you’re, it’s like some of you, you know, your engagement rate is super, super high, or is that not really, that you’re just, you really only bring it up when you get into actively kind of, you know, I guess, recruiting an influencer for a campaign.

Yes. So it’s funny, actually, we like, all that data is, is pretty much brand facing. Like we don’t, you know, we’re not, we’re not necessarily going back to the influencers, giving them reports on their own accounts or on what we’re finding. You know, we’re definitely letting them know like, Hey, you know, we’re working with you because of these different things or, you know, here’s why we’re engaging with your, you know but you know, one of the things we kind of talked about, it’s like, we’re sitting on this mountain of information and it’s been pretty much exclusively, exclusively used to be brand facing. We said, you know, maybe there’s something we can do. That’s influencer facing. Also, we’re playing around with some ideas now, but you know, whether it be to help influencers, you know, proactively find the right brands to partner with, or just see what different brands are doing are there similar influencers that a brand is working with to them, which could be a good signal to say, okay, I should reach out to that brand. I could be a good match. So these are sort of the ideas we’re playing with. But to be honest, we haven’t really delved into that too much.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well that, you know, that is interesting as a, you know, as a business idea because it’s like, you know, I think there’s whatever there’s, well, there’s a thousand fortune 1000 brands, but there’s 2 billion people all trying to figure out what is their audience respond to, which is like the part that you really figured out. So it’d be interesting to see if that flips at some point to where you, you, you offer that. But so then, so now let’s talk about, so that’s really cool. So you’ve got some different data sources you’re pulling from, you’re aggregating it in your own tool and you’re basically going, okay, Everlast hired us to do a campaign. We need to find all the people who have audiences that respond when it comes to boxing, you plug that in, and then if I am an influencer, do I just randomly get a message one day from, you know, Eric or someone on your team at open influence that says, Hey, we’re doing a campaign for Everlast, you’ve been identified as someone in an influencer in this area. Like, is that how it works?

Yeah, yeah, correct. So, so we in our network you know, we have a lot of influencers that we’ve worked with before. And, and yeah, if you’re a new influencer or someone from our account management team, we’ll shoot you a note outlining the opportunity. That part is automated in our system actually. So, you know, account manager would say, okay, you’re a good fit based on the data, I’m going to add you a reach out, we’ll go out. And then from there, we’ll, you know, we’ll negotiate a rate and, and, and the terms of the deal. And you know, we’re, you know, we’ve gotten this down to a science where we know, you know, w we essentially know what the ask for and what the outline, and, and also eliminate surprises on both sides, because for us, you know, we, we don’t want to, you know, we want to avoid reshoots. We want to avoid surprises. This is definitely a business where you want to be very, very clear. And so, yeah, so essentially when we reach out, we outline the full scope of work for that influencer. And, you know, they’re able to, you know, to say yes or no, and we’re not a talent agency. So, you know, we’re not asking to represent you. We’re not asking for any exclusivity is just like, Hey, here’s the deal if you want to do it. Great. And if not a well,

Yeah. So you’re, and does that usually happen like through a DM or something? I mean, do you, or do you, are you scraping their emails somehow offline? Or is it like, Hey, it’s most likely that it’s going to show up in my, my DMS because your software scraped that information and then followed me and then automatically sent me a message to say, Hey, we think you’re a candidate for this, for this campaign.

Yeah. Typically it’s through email, right. We’re, you know, a lot of, almost every influencer has some sort of contact detail, whether it’s on their Instagram account or their YouTube account, or on their own website, our blog. And so you know, that, that information is there and we just send them an inquiry to that, you know, essentially to that, that information provided and you know, and if they choose, they could, they could provide us with, with, you know the ability to contact them through, through text message as well. But you know, initial reach out is always done through, through email.

Okay. All right. So I’m just, you know, I’m trying to help people identify if they get one of these, like, how do you, how do you vet as an influencer? How do you vet the legitimate ones from the, from the, the, you know, the scammy ones, but before we do that, tell me what your, so I get the engagement. Well, I guess here’s a specific question. How much does followers matter? Like how many followers do I need to have before I might get one of these opportunities? Do I need to have millions, hundreds of thousands, 10,000, 50,000? Like how, how does that factor in here?

Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, I, I think from a, from just a visibility and kind of vanity standpoint, I think when you start looking at like 20 to 30,000, it starts to become interesting. You know, you, it really depends on what your niche is as an influencer as well, and what you’re talking about. So like you’re talking about something really specialized or you’re doing something really unique, like stop motion, animation, having a huge following is not really as important if someone’s looking to access that niche, they’re going to come to you because, you know, you’re an expert in, in that. You know, if you’re talking about teen fashion, you know, there are people with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers in that category. So you really have to look at it from the lens of supply and demand. But yeah, I would say that 20 or 30,000 is arranged now from an advertiser standpoint followers size doesn’t really matter at all.

What really matters are how many impressions we’re getting, what kind of click-throughs are you getting? Can you really drive and move your audience? And, and, you know, sometimes that process is hit or miss where, you know, you, you might think your audience will be a good fit for a certain product, but they end up not, or, you know, or a product you thought they wouldn’t be a good fit for ends up, you know, you ended up converting really well. So it just really depends. But you know, I, I think the key is to really just look at how many people are actually consuming that content and legitimately engaging with it, as opposed to just looking at follower count, because that could easily lead you to optimize for the wrong sort of things.

Right. Okay. So, yeah, so I, it’s interesting, you bring up the impressions where it’s like at the end of the day in advertisers paying either for impressions or some type of a conversion. So it’s, they don’t really care how many followers you have, but the number of impressions and conversions you drive is going to be related to, you know, to the number of followers you have and what your audience is interested in. So talk to me about the money for a second. Like, you know, you hear stories of, you know, people making $50,000, a hundred thousand dollars, millions of dollars, but realist like, realistically, like what’s the real, like, what’s the real world on this and what’s a baseline and you go cause, cause you know, the other thing that I hear a lot is it’s like influencers, a lot of influencers end up doing deals for just like merchandiser product. Right. And so they’re getting free and they’re not getting any money and they’re missing out on realizing, Oh, actually my audience is worth something. How do you kind of like cost justify? How does the brand cost justify? Is there like a, you know, any type of rough standard or baseline you’re looking for?

Yeah. So there are a lot of variables involved with it, right? So you have to look at one like the influencer size and just the amount of impressions they get. You have to look at the market that they talk to in the audience they have. So, you know, if you’re looking for like again, like teen fashion verse, like if you’re looking at like Sonic high performance, mountain biking equipment you know, an influencer in that category can definitely command a premium because they’re so specialized. That’s the platform

And like the niche, the niche ones command a premium because of supply and demand. There’s not a million people talking about high-performance mountain biking equipment.

Exactly. And they’re really focused, so they could really convert. And so brands know that if they want to engage with influencers, these are the ones that are really right to talking to that audience. And so and then you have to look at like platforms, content, formats, usage, rights exclusivity scope. So there are a lot of different factors to consider. And then also like bundling it, like, it’s, it’s very rare that, you know, you’ll just pay an influencer for a one-off post. Typically, you know, these are more involved activations. And so you know, and it, it just depends out what, what we’ve seen is it’s actually very rare in, in our world to, to have, you know, working with the brands we work with to have those engagements just pay like for merchandise or free, I guess the trade-off is, it makes it works when you’re working as a brand working micro-influencers, but the trade off there is, you know, those influencers are in your favor for you, right.

They can’t pay their bills with merchandise. Like it’s nice, but you lose the ability as an advertiser to really, you know, essentially, you know, set a schedule, set the terms, outline what you want from a content perspective. You know, you, you can’t really dictate and say, Hey, I want the post to go live on Tuesday at 2:00 PM. You know, you’re not paying for that post. You’re not paying that influence or they’re, they’re doing a favor for you. And so, you know, what ends up, hold on. I’m just going to pause my Slack notifications, right. So, you know, you end up, you know, it ends up just not making a whole lot of sense. Now when you, you know, when you’re an influencer, you know, you, you might, you might do that because you have a relationship with the brand or someone, but ultimately you know, th this is definitely a paid model.

You know, brands are going to want to hedge, you know, from our experience, like some brands want to pay influencers on the back end of the deal with like some sort of rev share, but you know, that, that, you know, a lot of influencers aren’t really receptive to that because they’ve gotten burnt with small brands and like, you know, like startups just, you know, kind of, you know, not having their business model, figure it out to where they’re not able to drive conversions. And so you know, so typically I, you know, I think there’s some upfront amount what those dollar amounts look like can change, but, you know, you could look at, you know, a thousand dollars, couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the influencer size you know, and, and the activation type, and also you know, how good you are for that Cuban brand.

Yeah. So if you, you know, let’s say if you’re, you got 30,000 followers, and maybe you are a fitness person and it’s like, Hey, there’s a, there’s a yoga campaign. And they want you to do, you know, like if T for a $5,000, let’s say like a $5,000 deal. How many posts is that usually? Is it, are you, is it is a brand typically going to be looking for like three posts, five posts, 20 posts. I mean, I’m sure the larger, the fee, obviously the more posts they want and the more control they want and, you know, that kind of thing.

Yeah. Look, they could be looking for three to five. You know, they’ll look at like some stories typically, because stories are sort of your, your most transactional and cheapest form of a posts, right. If it’s, you know, Tik TOK is a little bit of the wild West right now, it’s pretty new. So you know, that that’s a little bit all over the map. If it’s on YouTube, that might be part of it, right. Where you’d like saying, okay, I, you know, 30,000 followers or 30,000 subscribers, you know, from a story standpoint might not be a lot, but if I’m creating a YouTube video, that’s really focused and it’s a dedicated video you know, then, then a bulk of whatever fee I’m charging would go towards that. And, and, you know, and, and then brands will run the assessment and say, okay, well, if you’re working like a DD brand, they’re going to look and see how that converted, right.

If you’re a smaller influencer, you’re, you’re going to tend to fall in the realm of you know, more direct to consumer type businesses that are looking for like a direct response to whatever you’re doing. And so they’re going to look at that say, okay, well, we generated X amount of sales from that post, you know, they might not break even, but they might be really happy with that because they understand that, you know, as an influencer, one part of it’s branding and, you know, prospecting a new audience and the other part is converting. Right.

Huh. And, and would you like if you’re dealing with a real brand deal kind of a thing, do you typically deal in almost like, kind of like a set type of cost per impression, where if you show up and you come to me, you basically have a budget in mind because you have the data and you go, okay. I think if Rory runs a post with a surf board, we’re going to get about this many impressions, and I know my client’s willing to pay on average around, you know, this much for a CPM or whatever. And so you kind of have a number that you’re coming to me with to say, Hey, Roy, this is what we feel like we want you to do for this many posts.

Exactly. Yeah. So, so like, we, we have, you know, and we have a pricing model based on, you know, tens of thousands of transactions per year that we run. And so, you know, we’re looking at that and we’re saying, okay, like, based on all these metrics, here’s what we’re willing to pay for based on all these different variables. And, you know, we know this is competitive. And we also look at, instead of, if everyone’s saying yes you know, then it probably means worth pie. And if everyone’s saying, no, it probably, it means we’re too low. Right. So you know, we want to find a rate that’s competitive for, for the advertiser you know, our, our clients, but, you know, makes sense for the talent as well.

Interesting stuff. It’s so interesting, Eric, just that, you know, this kinda, I mean, I don’t know, five, 10 years ago, this was like only available to the biggest media companies in the world. And now it’s just like, this is becoming an everyday occurrence for anybody with any kind of reasonable following. Like if you’ve been, if you’ve been dedicated to building an audience for a few years, you know, you’re gonna, you’re probably gonna be in this space you know, if you’re doing it well and you’re doing it consistently. I think it’s, I think it’s fascinating stuff. Is there anything that you would say this is kind of like a last question in terms of mistakes that you see let’s say that influencers making consistently that either kind of ruin their reputation or immediately kind of like throw them out of your pool to either where you would never contact them or, you know, they say something to you early on and you go, I definitely know. I mean, this, person’s not a, I obviously, if they’re a total jerk, but like beyond, beyond that, are there any kind of like red flags or common mistakes you see that you go, man, this influencer just lost five grand because they didn’t do blank.

Yeah. Yeah. So, so I mean, you know, the metrics are the metrics, right? So we, like, we know that upfront, we don’t get hung up on that. What tends to really, you know, kind of screw up a relationship would be things like just, you know, being unreliable and unprofessional you know, changing scope midway through as an influencer or like, you know, not following through you know, or just in general being difficult to work with. Like ultimately you know, this is you know, it is a people’s business. You know, we are working on a piece of content gathering it’s collaborative and someone that’s going to be combative and difficult and unreliable will just automatically, you know, get put on our, do not use lists or do not work with lists. And you know, we have a whole system internally for rating influencers and on, on things like from responsiveness to professionalism.

So, you know, I, I really think, you know, going into it as an influencer with the right attitude, really treating the brands you’re working with, whether it’s us or a brand directly as your partner, right. And as a customer you know, that’s, that’s really what goes along this way because ultimately brands and agencies want to work with, with people that they can trust and that they enjoy working with. Because they know that, you know, they can come to something reasonable and that’s going to make sense, but, you know, no one wants to work with someone that’s going to be difficult to throw a tantrum or, or, you know, not follow through.

I love it. Really good stuff, Eric, I think fascinating, you know, just your business, even the existence of your business. Again, I think you’re, I mean, you guys have done a lot. You’ve got a great, a great thing going on, open influenced.com. We’ll link up to that, of course, in the show notes and y’all can see know just a really interesting space, something that, again, didn’t, we wouldn’t have existed as an opportunity even maybe a few years ago. And it seems like you guys are early to the space and you’ve got some big brands on your roster and you’re doing great stuff. Is there anything that you anywhere else that you want to point people to, if they want to like connect up with you or learn more about what you guys are up to?

Yeah. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, so you can just follow me there and connect with me there and same with, you know, open influence. You could, you know, I, we have a great content marketing team. That’s, that’s pumping out you know, latest trends and insights and, and white papers on the influencer industry. So you know, follow us on LinkedIn or sign up for our newsletter on our website and you know, stay tuned with, you know, with everything, especially from a brand perspective.

Love it. Eric Dohan is his name open influence? Y’all hopefully you have learned a lot. I know. I certainly have Eric. Thank you for being here, man. We wish you the best. Awesome. Thanks for, I appreciate it.