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Innovating Influencer Marketing A Chat With Olivia McNaughten, GRIN's Director Of Product Marketing

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A Chat With Olivia McNaughten, GRIN’s Director Of Product Marketing: Innovating Influencer Marketing

GRIN, an influencer management platform based in Sacramento, California, was co-founded by Brandon Brown and Brian Mechem in 2017, and it has emerged as the go-to creator management platform for brands looking to forge meaningful connections with consumers and elevate their businesses. 

Guiding this powerhouse is Olivia McNaughten, GRIN’s Director of Product Marketing, whose insights shed light on the essence of GRIN’s mission and impact. 

“GRIN is the all-in-one solution,” Olivia begins. “We empower brands to navigate the dynamic landscape of influencer marketing seamlessly.”

GRIN’s approach to creator management is holistic, encompassing every stage of the influencer marketing journey. From the initial discovery of creators whose values align with the brand’s mission to activating them in engaging campaigns, GRIN streamlines the entire process. “Our platform facilitates the discovery of creators who are the perfect fit for a brand. It then enables brands to engage and collaborate with these creators seamlessly, pay them, and we provide detailed reports to measure campaign success”, Olivia elaborates. 

The list of brands that have entrusted their creator programs to GRIN is impressive, including industry giants like Uber, Allbirds, and Skims. These brands have harnessed the platform’s capabilities to manage their influencer marketing efforts from start to finish. 

But what sets GRIN apart from the crowd? Olivia states; “We are dedicated to helping brands nurture authentic relationships with creators because we understand that authenticity is the key to content that resonates with audiences. When a brand’s genuine connection with a creator shines through in their content, it’s a catalyst for growth.”

Elevating Your Creative Program: GRIN’s Professional Services

GRIN announced on October 10th that they were extending their offering into professional services. “This offering is a fusion of our top-tier software and the expertise of industry veterans. Brands now have the opportunity to harness the knowledge and experience of professionals who have a proven track record, having worked with some of the industry giants”, Olivia explains. 

Innovating Influencer Marketing: A Chat With Olivia McNaughten, GRIN's Director Of Product Marketing

One of the standout features of GRIN’s Professional Services is its collaborative approach. Olivia underscores this, “Our professionals work as an extension of your team, from inception to completion. We provide unwavering support, lending a hand where it’s needed most. The flexibility of our offerings ensures that brands receive tailored solutions.”

Overcoming Influencer Marketing Challenges with GRIN’s Professional Services

“Our customers have been requesting this solution for a significant duration, and we are delighted to deliver. They aspire to replicate the success of brands like SKIMS, but they encounter two formidable obstacles in their path”.

One of the primary challenges that brands grapple with is personnel. Olivia explains, “Many brands possess a clear vision of their influencer marketing goals, but they lack the workforce to execute this vision effectively. They require a helping hand to turn their vision into reality.”

She continues, “The second challenge revolves around expertise. Some brands are new to influencer marketing, and even experienced influencer marketing managers find it challenging to stay abreast of updates. They seek a strategic partner to optimize their programs and navigate uncharted territories.”

Professional Services emerges as the beacon of hope for brands caught in the crossfire of personnel shortages and expertise gaps, “We’re here to ensure that brands can transform their influencer marketing aspirations into reality.” Olivia emphasizes. “We’ve been the secret engine behind many viral campaigns, and now we’re sharing that expertise with other brands”. 

She also underscores the importance of adaptability in the dynamic Influencer Marketing landscape, “Your needs today may not be the same in six months or a year. Our programs are designed to be flexible, adjusting to your evolving requirements. Whether it’s a modular service or an end-to-end solution, we help you choose what best suits your current program.”

Navigating the Ever-Changing Creator Landscape with GRIN’s Professional Services

Change is constant, and the influencer marketing landscape is no exception. 

“What makes our professionals invaluable is their position at the forefront of these changes. They immerse themselves in the evolving landscape day in and day out, offering a wealth of expertise”, says Olivia. She highlights the challenges of staying updated, “Even for experienced influencer marketing managers, staying abreast of these changes can be time-consuming. However, our experts are deeply immersed in this world, gaining exposure across a diverse range of brands.”

When brands venture into new territories, whether it’s exploring a new social network or venturing into different channels, GRIN’s team serves as a beacon of guidance. Olivia elaborates, “Our experts become thought leaders and strategic partners, guiding brands as they enter new channels. They help optimize programs and navigate these ever-evolving changes.” 

One of the primary challenges that brands face revolves around finding and securing creators as partners. “Determining who to collaborate with is a crucial first step. Defining the ideal profile of creators—whether they should be micro or macro, their geographic locations—requires expertise. It’s a challenge that often leaves brands overwhelmed.”

The second challenge pertains to campaign management and strategy. “Deciding between an evergreen campaign, seasonal campaigns, paid partnerships, or gifted partnerships can be daunting. The abundance of options and data complexity can make it challenging to formulate a strategy”, Olivia highlights the myriad choices brands face. 

She then addresses the third challenge, which involves the administrative side of influencer marketing. “Admin tasks, maintenance, and other time-consuming activities are necessary but not always enjoyable. Brands often find these tasks burdensome.”

According to McNaughten, GRIN’s Professional Services have been meticulously designed to address these three core challenges. Olivia underscores the alignment, “Our modular services are strategically crafted to tackle these challenges head-on. We offer specific services that directly target each pain point, providing effective solutions for brands.”

GRIN’s Forward-Thinking Approach

As the influencer marketing industry evolves, Olivia shares her insights into the trends she foresees and how GRIN is positioning itself to remain at the forefront of this dynamic landscape.

Olivia points out that the prevailing trend in influencer marketing revolves around the increasing array of options available to brands. New social networks are emerging, diverse types of creators are entering the scene, and trends are constantly shifting. Keeping pace with these changes can be a challenge for brands, “ It can be a whirlwind to keep up with all of this”, she says. 

To address these trends effectively, GRIN’s primary goal is to stay at the forefront of the influencer marketing landscape. Olivia explains, “We aim to stay ahead of these trends and developments, enabling us to provide the best possible support to our brands. We want to ensure that our clients are not just keeping up with the trends but staying ahead of them.”

Reflecting on the evolution of the influencer marketing economy, Olivia notes that it has come a long way from primarily paid posts. Today, many creator partnership possibilities exist, from short-term collaborations to long-term relationships, gifting, and paid partnerships. Brands also have the option to explore various media types. Olivia emphasizes, “Our role is to facilitate this focus on innovation, enabling brands to tap into a diverse range of partnerships efficiently and without chaos.”

“As social media evolves, GRIN evolves with it, ensuring that we remain a trusted partner for brands navigating the complexities of influencer marketing”, she concludes. 

What’s next in 2024 for GRIN

“Our immediate next step is to listen to our customers closely. We value their input and insights immensely, and we want to use their feedback to shape the future of our offering,” Olivia emphasizes, highlighting the pivotal role of customer feedback in GRIN’s growth trajectory. 

Olivia shares GRIN’s vision of Professional Services, with a keen eye on the ever-changing needs of their client base. She anticipates, “As we gather feedback and insights, we’ll have the opportunity to enhance and expand our professional services offering. There are numerous areas where brands require support, and we aim to be at the forefront of meeting those needs.” 

Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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