Jessica Sanderson, Head of Marketing at Sound Advice, is a seasoned marketing professional with over 17 years of experience in freelancing, agencies, and in-house roles. Known for her versatile and influential approach to problem-solving, she excels in influencer marketing, social media strategy, and team leadership. Jessica boasts a proven track record of enhancing brand visibility, engagement, and revenue growth through impactful brand ambassador & influencer programs.

Her expertise extends to nurturing relationships with key influencers, crafting innovative campaigns, and ensuring project success within budget constraints. With a unique perspective as a former influencer for over a decade, collaborating with renowned brands like Google, Honda, TikTok, Urban Decay Cosmetics, Loreal, LUSH, General Motors, Dyson, and more, Jessica Sanderson has become a respected figure in the marketing world.

Jessica is Head of Marketing at Sound Advice. Sound Advice is a mobile app designed to make building wealth accessible for today’s generation. They believe money is for everyone.

Journey as an influencer marketer

1. What got you into influencer marketing?

It's actually an interesting story. I didn't really know anything about influencers because back in 2006, there wasn't really a space for us, and we were known as just bloggers. I started a blog about cupcakes. I wasn't expecting anything, but I somehow ended up getting invited to The Martha Stewart Show in 2009, and that kick started my journey. Right after that, I sold my blog and moved into the field of graphic and web design. In 2010 I started a parenting publication with the tagline”not another mom blog”, gained a lot of followers, and around that time, social media was starting to get attention and really become the main focus. The terms influencers, algorithms, and talent agencies were new to the influencer world and we had to do everything we could to gather attention from brands. It started to shift. I worked directly with the companies like Google, Honda and Dyson. Fast forward to 2018, I had a huge following and got tired of being on the influencer side so I sold everything. Absolutely everything. I then started working on the opposite end of the career spectrum connecting brands with influencers. I would come onboard with a lot of different companies, agencies, and help them build out an influencer marketing program that would work. That's how it started in 2018 and that’s how it goes to this day.

2. How has your role as an influencer marketer shaped up over time?

I would say the biggest thing now is affiliate marketing. Influencers, especially bigger ones, feel more secure in long term contracts because it is more like a long-steady stream of income, and this phenomenon is really interesting for me. Second one, finding influencers that relate to the company. We have a lot of tools out there right now to find suitable influencers, which didn't exist back in the day and also dealing with talent agents. Word of mouth also plays a big role nowadays, especially since the pandemic, there's a big aspect of community that goes into the field of influencers and a lot of people got successful there.

3. Can you describe a particularly memorable influencer marketing campaign you've been involved with?

I found it interesting that influencer marketing is actually more successful when they are more organic and less spammy. There's one brand that actually made CDs based on hate comments they got on social media. There's also an oat milk company that promoted their products by saying that "technically we can’t call our product milk, thanks to our legal team but you can". It’s disruptive. It makes sense.

I did a campaign with Pabst Blue Ribbon and used their beer cans into candles, so it was beer can-dles and that was very successful. Completely strange but totally worked. Letting influencers have creative control over their audience because the more you tell them what to do, the less likely you will have people resonating with them. Creative freedom is the number one goal for any successful influencer campaigns.

Operating as an influencer marketer

1. What are the top 3 KPIs for an influencer marketing manager?

I think the biggest one is reach. Essentially you're working with influencers not just to help promote the company, but their contents need to be relatable to be able to drive proper conversions or engagement, whatever your KPI is.

Having influencers with great engagement will help you gain new followers, impressions, and engagements to your company. Followers don’t matter as much these days. Impressions and views are also a big one. I heard that you can post a story and it will be seen by more people than if you posted the same content as a photo. It would get less likes that way. That shows people are watching even if they don’t interact.

Sometimes I just re-share or remix the contents from another influencer, and having other influencers that are engaging with the communities is pretty nice. Then comes Call to Action (CTA). Connecting with the audiences, engaging with them, understanding your audiences and finally being able to convince them, works better instead of just spamming them.

2. How do you go about structuring your influencer marketing campaigns at Sound Advice?

We work with a lot of different amazing people from mega influencers to celebrities to students and recent grads. I think the most important thing is that they can resonate with our brand and our mission so they can provide content organically while also relating. You just need to look at many different aspects instead of focusing on specific niche like mega influencers. I say tap into all of them and work with them in various ways.

Pain points as an influencer marketer

1. What are the top three pain points you struggle with while running influencer campaigns?

I would say finding the right influencers who don't inflate their numbers. You might be spending a lot of money and don't get the results you want if you choose the wrong influencers. If you're hyper-focused too much just on their follower numbers and don't actually look at their engagements, that will never help you.

Next one is communicating with talent agents. They're amazing, they handle a lot of talents but it's almost like putting a second step between you and the influencers, while you could actually talk with the influencers directly, it's really time-taking. Thirdly, I found that catering campaigns to specific influencers tends to be more successful than putting up a campaign with everybody chipping in. For example, a mega influencer with millions of followers versus a college student with hundreds of followers who has a lot of friends that they talk to on a daily basis. Word of mouth marketing always wins. The college student would actually do better than the mega influencer, you just need to look at it from a different perspective instead of being blinded by how many followers an influencer has.

Future of Influencer Marketing

1. Looking ahead, what do you believe are the biggest opportunities and challenges in the influencer marketing industry?

Recently, CBS News came out with a study that states that 86% of young American adults between ages of 18-24 want to become social media influencers. A lot of them see their parents doing the 9 to 5 work shifts and they don’t want to be in the same position. Some do, most don’t. The future is really all about designing the life that they love. A lot of platforms are getting revived, like LinkedIn has started to get more popular with the younger generation. I think influencers are just going up from here and find what works for them and keep on going.

At Sound Advice, we're dedicated to educating and motivating the younger generation, aspiring entrepreneurs, and potential influencers by providing guidance and support in navigating the unique financial challenges they face, helping them take small steps towards their goals and avoid the mistakes I made on my own journey.

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