Who is Adam Dinkes?
Adam Dinkes is president at Tani USA, an underwear, undershirt and loungewear company. Before joining Tani, Adam worked in the beauty, skincare and fashion industries. He has a bachelor of arts degree in American studies and film studies from Brandeis University and an MBA in operations, planning and strategy from McGill University. He lives in New York City, NY.
Before working with Tani USA, Adam Dinkes was in management consulting helping businesses overcome strategy or operations challenges. He moved to Tani to tap into an opportunity he saw in the men’s underwear space. Tani was launched in 2014 via influencer marketing.
“Tani is a luxury men’s and women’s basics brand, meaning everything from underwear to undershirts to thermals. So basics, meaning that’s the first layer that touches your skin. We sent some products to different men’s style YouTube influencers asking if they were interested in working with us. The request was that they try the product first and see if they truly like it. One of those influencers wrote back and was interested in trying the product and offered to do a video. And that video is what basically started the website.”
An authentic understanding of the product and brand was a central consideration in identifying the influencers Tani USA could collaborate with.
“We chose people that are most likely to authentically talk about our product. Since we primarily sell men’s basics, that’s the biggest part of our brand. We went to men’s style experts. Underwear fashion experts. Even people that talk to, let’s say gentlemen under five feet tall or overweight or guys over a certain age. So really anything that was speaking to guys that was there to offer ways to better themselves and help them become more authentic.”
To date, Adam still prioritizes creators that genuinely like the product.
“I’ll ask them what product they’d like to try. And then they get to try the product. And if they don’t like it, no problem. We don’t have to work together. If they do like it then we can talk further about what we could possibly do together”
The Persuasive Power of Video Influence
Adam considers influencer marketing as a valuable strategy for product growth and credibility.
“I think that the influencer’s audience Is more likely to believe product recommendations if the influencer has made good recommendations in the past. You’re relying on the influencer’s credibility and that’s what makes it most effective.”
That being said, he has found video-based campaigns to be most persuasive.
“Video brings the product to life. An Instagram picture or post is just a beautiful image of the product or a model wearing the product. It doesn’t really tell you anything else. Our product needs a little bit more conversation in order for people to understand why we’re slightly more expensive than other brands. So if we can capture and show that to a prospective customer, that has proven to be very effective in terms of convincing them to at least give our products a try.”
Video content is more likely to be evergreen, he says.
“I think YouTube is probably one of the better vehicles to work with influencers. Something that’s evergreen. The best campaigns are the ones that live on for as long as possible. So if we have campaigns that we’ve worked on that are still driving traffic to our website, those by far would be the most successful. And those are primarily the ones that we’ve done on YouTube.”
The More the Merrier
Adam recommends working with multiple influencers over working with one major influencer though the number of influencers.
“Some of them may need to be paid. Some of them will do it just for the product as long as they liked the product. You need at least some presence with people that have higher volume or more loyal followers. And then I think you need people on the second and third tier as well. The third tier would be people that are on Instagram that you send products to, that show the product and talk about the product. They may have 10,000 or 25,000 or even 100,000 followers.”
Working with multiple influencers means you do not have a single point of failure.
“If you have an influencer, let’s say on Instagram, that doesn’t post for you and has a hundred thousand followers, you may not get anyone to your website. So you have to be very careful.”
On Creative Freedom and Campaign ROI
Adam is keen to give influencers content creating freedom.
“In terms of direction, they tell me what they want to do. It might be no more than ‘I’m going to do an Instagram post’ or ‘I’m going to do a YouTube video’ or ‘This is the subject’. They tell me how they feel about the product. They pick the topic for whatever it is they’re going to do. They have all control as the only request I have is that it be authentic.”
Return on investment (ROI) is the main performance metric but not the only one, Adam says.
“If it’s an Instagram post and it brings in some traffic, that’s probably sufficient. But I think the metric for me is its return on the investment. Whether it’s the visitor traffic or whether it’s conversions and actual sales.”
He recommends two methods to measure ROI.
“First, through a traditional promo code where you can see how much overall influence that person has had. Second, you can track it through a direct link that the influencer will give them that could bring them to a special landing page. So you’ll be able to track people that are coming in from that specific posting.”
Advice for Brands
Adam has some advice for brands that want to avoid common influencer marketing campaign mistakes.
First, identify the right influencer.
“We do searches on influencers that have talked about some similar types of things and go back and check if they’ve done stories on men’s clothing, on tips for styling, dating, sex. That type of thing is key. If someone doesn’t talk about men’s underwear at all, or men’s undershirts at all, or men’s clothing, it’s not a good fit for me. So even if they have a million followers, it doesn’t matter.”
Second, make sure the influencer aligns with the campaign objective.
“If the campaign is going to be about launching a new product, you have to find someone that’s really good at launching new products or has a good audience of people that want to try new things. So it’s the right person with the right messaging that makes sense for them and their audience, and makes sense for your product. Just tying a name into your product doesn’t necessarily add any value”
Third, manage expectations.
“You really have to question what the results are going to be and what you expect to come out of that campaign. I think you have to be careful how much money you spend on it. When you spend $1,000, obviously you have to get $1,000-plus back.”
Fourth, define metrics beforehand if the goal is to drive traffic.
“You have to set a metric to determine whether that’s a successful campaign or not. That way, you know whether or not to go back to that person. It could be something as simple as the engagement on Instagram or the number of comments that you got or the number of people that come from that specific site or the number of people that use those codes.”
Fifth, set a budget and do not overpay and/or overestimate influencers.
“Be realistic about what you’re paying people. Some influencers price themselves out of their league. Some brands find themselves overeager either not understanding how to get involved with influencer marketing or they just want to jump in and throw a ton of money at it and have high expectations.”
He is wary about working with influencers who charge too high.
“Anyone that’s really, really expensive, I would put a question mark on in terms of whether they’re worth the money especially if it’s on Instagram. I reached out to an influencer recently and they wanted like $100,000 a year to work with them. And there really was no way that person would be that influential in terms of generating that kind of sales.”
Looking to the Future
Adam expects Tani USA to continue on an influencer-driven growth trajectory
“We’re at a point where we’re going to continue to grow at a rapid rate. And I think influencer marketing will be a big part of continuing that growth just because of the authenticity that it allows the viewer or follower to get about the product.”