Erin Cutler is the founder and CEO of Neon Rose, an influencer and talent management agency that connects the socially influential to like-minded brands. Neon Rose represents influencers primarily in the health and wellness, foodie, fitness, and lifestyle arenas. With experience in working with both the brand side as well as with the talent, Erin Cutler is well versed in all facets of the industry.
Erin Cutler started her career as an attorney.
“When I was living in DC, I was an attorney for an art museum and it was really around the time when Instagram launched. I became just obsessed with the industry. But there was no such thing as influencer marketing or influencer talent management. It was not a thing yet but I just knew I wanted to somehow work in the space in some capacity.”
She quit her job and went to Los Angeles where she worked for free for fashion companies as an intern. It was an opportunity to learn everything about the fashion industry. Erin says she would send out clothes to her friends who were popular on Instagram and they would post them on their pages.
“It was really cool and I was like, okay where does this go from here? I had a couple of girlfriends that were sports broadcasters and they asked if I would manage them. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time but I was like, I’ll figure it out. I was actually cold calling and reaching out to anyone. One of my longest standing partnerships actually was Mercedes-Benz and was the first one I did. And we still work with them today.”
During this time, Erin was offered a position to launch the influencer division for a San Diego PR firm that specialized in health and wellness. She moved back home to San Diego and built out an influencer program for the firm. She spent a lot of time educating brands on the value of influencer marketing and why they should work with influencers.
“It was here that I really fell in love with the health and wellness space. And I realized that a lot of the influencers I was working with weren’t represented. There was a lot of opportunity for fashion and beauty influencers and agencies that could represent them. There really wasn’t an agency that could understand health and wellness creators.”
She launched Neon Rose as a means to work with influencers in the health and wellness space. Three and a half years since then, the agency has 16 staff and is growing.
What the Agency Does
Neon Rose has a talent division and a brand division. The talent division represents influencers by exclusively handling the creators’ sponsor contracts, negotiations and partnerships. The brand division does 360-degree influencer marketing for brand clients while working with hundreds of creators.
The agency has expanded into other verticals such as lifestyle, food, fitness, parenting and travel. However, its primary business remains in the health and wellness space, Erin says.
“There really isn’t any other agency that has such a large focus on it, like we do and we do it so well. We know it so well. We have relationships with brands and agencies in the wellness space that go very far back. I’ll know right away what an influencer will or won’t do just based on the fact that they are in the wellness space before I even know anything about them.”
Identifying the Right Influencers to Work With
Erin highlights three major attributes Neon Rose looks at when identifying the influencers to work with.
First, the creator should be working fulltime as an influencer or at least treat their work as a business and not just a hobby. The influencer has to be committed to delivering content on time.
Second, the agency will evaluate the creator’s consistency, engagement, following, authenticity and conversion power.
Third, the creator should be committed to creating quality content that educates, inspires, entertains or provides some value. Brands seek influencers that can sell products and that convert. It all begins with content and this is something the agency will not do for the creator.
Measuring Campaign Success
The right Key Performance Indicators (KPI) one should look at to measure influencer marketing success will depend on what the goal of the campaign is, Erin says. KPIs could be impressions, click throughs, sticker taps, comments, new followers and more.
“Of course, most brands are looking to see how many sales they got so that’s always going to be the ultimate measurement of success.”
Erin cautions brands to not view influencer marketing in a vacuum and assume it will be the answer to everything to do with their product or service.
“What the brand needs to make sure is that you have other things set up as well. If you are out there and have an influencer campaign going and your website is not good and people come to your website, but you’re not able to convert them because people cannot find the buy button. You’re not going to get the sale and it is not the influencer’s fault. Everything has to be working simultaneously and harmoniously otherwise it is not going to work.”
Major Trends Affecting the Influencer Space
Erin identifies two key trends affecting influencer marketing recently.
First, COVID-19 forced influencers indoors to create content from home and this was an opportunity for them to prove that they do know what content works for their audience. This has subsequently driven a shift that has seen brands cede more creative control to influencers.
Second, the rise in ‘cancel culture’.
“If you are an influencer and were not talking about hot topics, and you weren’t talking about politics, or you weren’t talking about your views, you’re not talking about the vaccine, you run the risk of being cancelled and it’s a really unfortunate thing. We’ve dealt with creators who went on a trip during COVID time and got massive backlash. Sometimes influencers feel like they can’t win because no matter what they say, they’re going to get some backlash. But that’s okay. That comes with the territory”
Hottest Platforms at the Moment
Clubhouse may have seen a burst of popularity but Erin believes nothing is going to surpass Instagram and TikTok any time soon.
“There just still isn’t anything that is going to have bigger power than those two platforms. I would say they’re bigger than YouTube. Doesn’t mean YouTube content isn’t good for certain brands and for certain collaborations but people generally have a short attention span. They are looking to watch like a TikTok or an Instagram Reel. These two will continue to be the powerhouses.”
What’s Next for the Agency
Erin wants Neon Rose to continue to be the best health and wellness agency. She is looking forward to growing the business at a steady pace and bringing on new clients and new creators. Neon Rose plans to keep its finger on the pulse of the industry, to be on the lookout for the new trends and to determine if there is a new product or service they could offer their clients.