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456 Growth Agency Seeks Out “Diamonds in the Rough” Creators – CEO Dan Albert Explains Why

Dan Albert didn’t set out to be a player in the “creator economy.” However, the co-founder and CEO of 456 Growth has found himself at the forefront of this burgeoning industry, harnessing social media influencers to drive revenue for brands. His journey began representing reality TV stars at a talent agency, which led him to co-found the multi-faceted 456 Growth in 2021. 

The firm has divisions managing over 100 influencers and running performance marketing campaigns across e-commerce, Amazon, retail sites and TikTok. In the evolving creator economy, Dan is taking an unorthodox approach – relentlessly gathering data from creators, continuously testing new strategies, fostering transparent “hybrid” partnerships, investing in startups, and preparing services to capitalize on the affiliate marketing boom.

Harnessing the Creator Economy to Fuel Brand Growth

Dan’s journey began at a boutique pop culture agency in New York City, where he represented reality TV stars for traditional sponsorships and personal appearances. As that revenue stream dried up, brands began approaching their clients to pay for social media posts – initially on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

“These brands would come and say, ‘Give us a contract for $5,000. I’ve already pre-signed it, I just need you to sign it to get your money,'” Dan recalled. “It was better than the alternative…The transition from making money on the road to making money in your house and having a reliable revenue stream at scale was an amazing thing.”

He realized this was more than just paid promo content—it was performance marketing, with reality stars’ highly engaged audiences ready to make purchases based on their endorsements. “They would literally jump at buying whatever these creators promoted,” he says.

In 2021, Dan co-founded 456 Growth to operate at the intersection of brands and creators. The firm has two core divisions:

456 Growth Talent is a management company representing over 100 social media creators, predominantly women, with audiences interested in lifestyle, health, and wellness. The creators are focused on helping brands achieve customer acquisition and revenue goals.

456 Growth Media is the brand agency arm, developing and executing influencer marketing campaigns for e-commerce brands across channels like direct-to-consumer, Amazon, and major retailers’ websites. A new initiative aims to maximize TikTok’s shopping feature for client customer acquisition.

“We launched our multi-faceted agency to harness innovation at scale from both the creator and brand perspectives,” Dan states. “Having a talent management company and a brand-facing agency at the integration of these worlds has the potential to impact scalable strategy across the creative landscape significantly.”

While 456 Growth is still a startup, Dan’s experience in the space spans over a decade. He sees the creator economy bringing together diverse industries and audience passions.

“What I love most is that every day is different, and influencer marketing is bringing together all industries and worlds into one. It’s a service offered to anybody. You just have to figure out what that is,” he says.

456 Growth’s Appetite for Creator Economy Ventures

In addition to its talent management and brand services arms, 456 Growth is getting into the creator economy investment game. The firm has launched 456 Growth Investments, which Dan calls “a little bit of a passion project” for the founding team.

“It’s a lead generation tool, but we invest in high-growth startups that have some sort of need or connection to the creator economy,” he explained. “Whether it be a CPG food and beverage brand that wants to use influencers to drive customer acquisition or awareness, or whether it be a creator economy fintech solution built and implemented for the creator economy.”

The firm invests in tools, services, and brands that it uses itself, allowing 456 Growth to provide strategic value in addition to financial backing. Dan says having visibility into the builders shaping the creator economy landscape is valuable for the company’s core service business.

456 Growth also has its eye on building new creator economy ventures beyond investing. It is launching a new agency called 25th Hour Social focused solely on affiliate marketing partnerships for creators. Dan sees this as a massive revenue driver as the influencer marketing model shifts.

“Affiliate marketing can drive higher scalable revenue for a creator beyond even any possible fixed fee model,” the CEO states. “Omni-channel creators utilizing owned and operated social platforms are really driving impactful revenue and customer acquisition for large and small brands alike.”

Dan shared one of 456 Growth Talent’s success stories, showcasing the power of making creators omnipresent. The firm helped managed creator Natasha Pearson leverage TikTok to rapidly grow her audience from 100,000 Instagram followers to 1.7 million on TikTok and 1 million on Instagram within six months.

“She established higher monetization potential and expanded her reach across different demographics,” Dan notes. “She can take more risks with greater rewards because she has built substantial audiences across multiple platforms.”

Leveraging Data and Testing to Stay Ahead of Trends

For Dan and 456 Growth, the key to staying ahead in the creator economy is a relentless focus on data, testing, and seeking out new opportunities before they become industry norms. “You work for a big agency, and you have red tape that slows you down,” he says. But overnight, snap your fingers—something could collapse. But also an opportunity pops up.”

456 Growth’s agile, service-based approach involves “continuous testing, evaluation, and scaling” across its creator management and brand media divisions. According to the co-founder, some partners are eager to be on the cutting edge, while others prefer to see consistent results before adopting new strategies.

“The brands that tested, even in a down economy, dominate because they didn’t lose their competitive advantage,” Dan explained. “The brands that tested early with things like whitelisting or Instagram Stories crushed it and built massive pyramids of creators driving 6 or 9-figure returns.”

Rather than relying solely on third-party tools and data providers, 456 Growth aims to extract proprietary “first-party user behavior” insights directly from the creators and brands it works with. These insights reveal critical patterns Dan believes are “essential for success” in executing scalable influencer campaigns.

“How do you know whether a creator has an email subscription list? You have to ask them,” he says. “There isn’t a platform out there that provides that proprietary data to the masses. Relationships are what pull that information from the creator.”

The firm leverages this data, combined with social listening and e-commerce tracking, to identify “diamonds in the rough”—creators who may be undervalued or misjudged based on surface-level stats like follower counts. Dan claims the assumption that macro-influencers will always outperform smaller creators “has been disrupted.”

“Our trash became treasure overnight,” he says, referring to how reality TV personalities his company represented early on became major direct-to-consumer marketing forces. “Micro-creators often outperform macro-creators, and you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

When it comes to facilitating brand/creator partnerships, transparency and data sharing are key, according to 456 Growth’s co-founder. He sees the company as a “facilitator of these collaborations” that highlights challenges and opportunities with the goal of fostering “mutually beneficial” deals.

“We envision a future where hybrid partnerships – a mixture between fixed fee and residual models – hold significant value,” Dan reveals. “The end results will often exceed initial expectations from the brand and creator perspective.”

He believes moving from a “data-last” to a “data-first” perspective allows partnerships to be structured in a way that unlocks their full potential over the long term. With full visibility into both sides of the brand/creator relationship, 456 Growth can serve as an effective matchmaker.

Tackling the Creator Economy’s Biggest Challenges

Per Dan, the creator economy is facing two major challenges that also represent significant opportunities. The first is the rapid rise of micro-influencers and new content creators, driven by the growth of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. This surge highlights the need for quality control and professionalism standards.

“These aren’t 8 to 10-year veteran creators,” he emphasizes. “These are players popping up in the past 30 days that have no idea about this ecosystem, contracts, payments, or the platforms. They just know they’ve been given a way to generate money.”

The second challenge is the increasing use of AI tools to generate content, which raises questions about authenticity, transparency, and whether audiences will accept AI-fabricated personas and engagement.

“It’s hard – I’m torn between fostering economic value and addressing the dissonance created by buyers of fabricated content,” Dan explains. “I’m making a living doing this, but it also creates volatility.”

The entrepreneur believes these challenges underscore the importance of creators building owned communities outside major social platforms as a monetization strategy and safety net against platform disruptions.

At the recent Mom 2.0 Influencer Marketing Conference, he heard examples of communities being wiped out by algorithm changes as well as successful models for monetizing off-platform fan bases.

“The future of the rising creator-operated community is built outside the major social platforms,” Dan says. “Building and owning those communities is a security measure and long-term monetization strategy.” As the creator economy evolves, 456 Growth aims to help nurture these independent creator communities while capitalizing on opportunities within the AI-driven landscape.

Embracing the Unconventional Path

For aspiring creators looking to make their mark in the creator economy, Dan advises this: Be willing to take the unconventional path.

“I’ve built my career by taking unconventional paths, whether decisions I made or decisions forced on me,” he points out. “A lot of people choose to stick to the mainstream, and it takes a little crazy to fly off the wheel.”

Dan emphasizes the importance of staying humble, asking questions, and maintaining an endless curiosity about the digital landscape. He makes a point to learn from younger generations who are “tapped into the pulse” of emerging trends and innovations.

“Every day I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who can I meet today and what can I learn?'” Dan states. “If you’re not actively exploring and digging in the trenches, you’re never going to unearth those hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.”

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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