How to launch your D2C brand?
If you're an influencer, no matter how “big”, you have a unique relationship with your followers. Brands are aware that they cannot replicate it and thus are willing to pay for access to that relationship so you advertise their brand for them.
But is doing sponsored deals the only way to monetize your influence – the true currency of the internet and social media in particular?
Depending on the industry you’re in, you can come up with products to brand as your own and sell them directly to your followers. For that, you don’t need to set up a whole production and fulfillment system. There are dropshipping platforms that produce white-label products, let you customize them, and then ship them directly to your customer.
This article compares the pros and cons of selling your influence versus using influence to sell your own products. Finally, we also offer a few tips for promoting your own product line.
When you work with sponsored deals, you are essentially selling your influence in exchange for a fee, which is arguably an effective tactic for sellers and influencers alike.
However, if you create your own product line, you invest your influence to grow your revenue and brand equity. If people already trust you and follow your advice, bringing them a product that fits with your personal brand could offer you a very successful revenue stream and other benefits.
We give you 5 reasons why starting your own product line has a more significant impact than promoting someone else’s brand.
If you’re doing sponsored deals efficiently, you have the opportunity to grow your audience. For example, your followers can share your posts, tag their contacts in your contests, or forward your promo codes to their friends.
Having your own product presents even greater growth opportunities. Instead of just growing your follower count, you can attract new leads and customers, and establish contact with them on many different levels. For example, you can lead your followers from your social media posts to your website, ask them to sign up for your service or join your email newsletter. Eventually, you have the chance to grow your revenue and brand equity.
Working on a sponsored deals basis is not really scalable – your revenue is limited by the number of promotions per week or month. Even if you are very hard-working, you shouldn’t overdo promotional posts, or you risk losing authenticity in your followers’ eyes.
With your own product, the scalability and the intensity of promotion is unlimited because you can do it across various channels. These are only some of the tactics you can use to promote your product line:
When you advertise products too often or promote goods that don’t align with your values, you risk diluting your followers' trust.
On the contrary, promoting your own products is much more natural as they are owned by you and are an extension of what you stand for. Instead of annoying or making your followers suspicious, your product line would be boosting your personal brand and image.
Whenever you’re hired by someone, you are expected to follow their guidelines regarding content, schedule, and other terms. Of course, as the influencer, you have the final say in whether or not you publish the post.
If you are the product owner, you decide everything, from the format and frequency of the ads to the direction of the larger marketing strategy. You can go crazy with your promo visuals and texts and take your followers along.
It’s likely that you are accepting (at least the majority of) sponsored deals for the money. Even if you like the product you advertise, you are not often genuinely passionate about it.
It’s a different story with an initiative you’ve started on your own, and that embodies your strengths and values. By creating your own product line, you embark on a learning and growth journey where you’re building long-term value – for yourself and your audience.
If you’ve decided to create your own product line – congratulations! You don’t have much to lose, but definitely have lots to gain.
Creating your own product doesn’t have to be complicated. One option is going with the more complex route where you cooperate with a producer and create the product from scratch.
Alternatively, you can go with the easier option and use white label product services that work on an on-demand basis and do the production, packaging, and even delivery on your behalf. For example, Supliful offers on-demand health supplement fulfillment, enabling fitness, wellness, and health influencers to create their branded products.
To help you sell your new product and grow your personal brand, we’ve listed effective promo tactics that you can try.
Sell and promote on your website
The most straightforward place to showcase, describe, advertise and sell your merchandise is, of course, your website. Your site gives you the creative freedom to package and present products in a way that’s convenient for you and that best demonstrates your brand’s image. Your website gives you more space to tell your brand’s story, present your different services, publish client testimonials, etc.
Your website also enables you to include many other marketing channels in your strategy. For example, you can start a blog or build an email newsletter subscriber list.
Create social media shops to sell physical products
You can monetize your Facebook or Instagram influence by selling physical products through a social media shop. To start a Facebook or Instagram shop, you’ll need to set up a business account, upload your products or integrate with an e-commerce platform – here’s how to do it with Shopify, for example.
When you have your social media shop set up, you don’t need to send customers to your website to buy your merchandise. This is the most direct and obstacle-free way to sell physical products via social media.
Offer online courses
Online education is a booming industry – even more so since the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, at least 60% of internet users have educated themselves online in some form. This willingness to learn online presents a great opportunity to package and monetize your influence and knowledge while also delivering value to your audience.
You can either prepare pre-recorded videos and post them on your website, social media profile or an online learning site, or do live-videos or webinars – a more time-consuming option that has the benefit of interacting with your audience in real time. Your course can even be for free, if you use product placement in it and mention your products.
Consult or coach online
In a similar vein, you can offer your knowledge to your followers on a more personal level. For example, you can provide video consultations on a topic of your strength. Or, you can offer your coaching or consulting services to businesses or organizations.
Such coaching sessions present an opportunity to indirectly sell your products. But be careful not to go overboard with promoting – especially if your consulting services are paid, people won’t be happy to see that you’re aggressively advertising your products in them.
With your own product line, you can cooperate with other industry professionals who are willing to earn some extra money by placing affiliate links on their sites and social media. In this model, your partners earn a percentage of the sale for every purchase that’s made through their unique link or code.
Affiliate marketing can be a very effective tactic if you have a network of colleagues, partners, or students who believe in your product and would be ready to help you grow your business.
From a mere $1.7 billion market size in 2016, influencer marketing is estimated to have grown to $9.7 billion in 2020 and $13.8 billion in 2021. Without a doubt, this is a profitable industry to be in – both for brands and for influencers themselves.
But influencing doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to advertise someone else’s product. If people already look to you for advice on a certain topic, you can consider retailing a relevant product and brand through your channels by using dropshipping.