Who is Kyle Hjelmeseth?
Kyle Hjelmeseth is the CEO of Talent Management at G&B, the largest independently-owned talent management firm for digital influencers in the US. Today, G&B has over a hundred talents that they explicitly represent.
G&B is known for being one of the first influencer talent management agencies to reach millions in revenue while staying 100% founder-owned and debt-free. They’ve increased their revenue 124% from last year, with one of their top influencers, Noelle Downing, earning over a million from brand partnerships alone in 2021.
Besides popular influencers, G&B also manages many celebrity influencers, such as Jonathan Bennett, a well-known actor from Mean Girls, and full-time mother, wife, and yoga instructor Liv Lo Golding.
G&B was started after Kyle began helping his girlfriend, now wife, with her business emails, for her blogging business.
Kyle shares, “She [His wife] thought that because of my business experience, it would be helpful if I answered emails for her, like as a manager… I didn’t listen for a year and a half, but when I finally did, she made more than four times the amount of money she was making before.”
He shares that brands would offer his wife a hundred dollars, but because of his background in business, he had no problem asking for $500. This quickly paid off for his wife, and many of her friends saw the success his wife was having and wanted a similar service.
Kyle shares, “I started collecting influencers personally, just friends of friends. Everybody was a referral, and I did that all in secret while I had another full-time job. So, every day was like 7:00 AM to 1:00 AM doing both things.”
When he was managing around 12 to 15 influencers, Kyle went full-time.
The Influencer Marketing Boom
Even with his background in marketing, Kyle notes he is still shocked about how big influencer marketing is today.
His wife, Stephanie, has even participated in a huge Banana Republic campaign that Kyle negotiated for her. For the campaign, she did a photo shoot and her photos were on the front of every Banana Republic store worldwide.
Stephanie and Kyle were also invited to France by Chanel for a campaign involving the Chanel No. 5 perfume.
These experiences continued to open Kyle’s eyes to the possibilities available to influencers.
“That’s really when I was like, this is special. This is a really interesting opportunity where even the most luxury brands want to work with people who are out there telling their own stories. Like Stephanie has created her own story, her own world, her own blog, and Chanel wants her to talk about how they make Chanel No. 5 through her eyes.”
Kyle notes that five to six years ago, influencer marketing deals would be for a single blog post, an Instagram story, and maybe a tweet or pin. Today, negotiations are increasingly complex, with brands wanting bundles of content and posts on various platforms.
Kyle’s Favorite Campaigns
Other than his wife’s campaigns, Kyle no longer handles a lot of campaigns personally. However, he shares one of his favorite campaigns, which was between his wife and Bare Minerals in 2019.
“It was a favorite for me because my son just born towards the end of 2018 in September, and he got to be in the campaign with my wife…. Her content on the side of that [campaign] was talking about how they went through every ingredient that’s in the products and kind of the message was it’s so clean for Stephanie that it’s okay to be near our son.”
The campaign was ultimately very effective because the beauty world has been shifting towards clean beauty. He notes that it was awesome seeing his wife’s campaign with his son’s face in it shared worldwide.
Mistakes in Influencer Marketing
When asked about the biggest mistakes he sees in influencer marketing, Kyle shared that he sees talents trying to take shortcuts to become large influencers.
“The problem is that a lot of new people who want to be influencers is that they’re trying to take shortcuts to get there when the whole point of becoming an influencer is to tell your own story.”
He notes that creators need to let others understand who they are. For example, “What is special about you? What do you believe? What are you good at? All those things, and really share more of a personal story. That’s how you build the community.”
Next, Kyle notes that the biggest mistakes he sees brands and agencies make is brands giving their products and services to as many influencers as possible to see what sticks. Kyle notes that this is getting better as many brands start to realize that they need to choose influencers who align with their brand values.
Another mistake he sees is “a lot of brands and agencies make the mistake of thinking, I’m going to have an influencer post one time and that’ll work. That’ll get people buying my stuff and it’s never like that.”
Kyle shares that followers often need to see the same product many times before they will convert into a sale, which brands need to be aware of.
Kyle shares that G&B has many exciting plans for the future.
“The future is number one. We’re doubling down on using LA as a hub [because] LA is still the entertainment capital of the world and always will be for the foreseeable future. We’re closing on an office space here, really solidifying our relationship with the entertainment community.”
In addition to this, Kyle noted that G&B is looking to continue building a global presence. Many firms are coming from outside the United States because of the money and opportunities here, but not many are reaching out on a global level.
“We’ve been going over [going global] the last couple years and how do we make a very thoughtful leap into another market.”
G&B is also building the College of Influence, which is dedicated to educating others about what it means to be an influencer. Kyle shares that they hope to create more standards around being an influencer – both so that influencers can be better partners to brands and agencies, and to help capture creator statistics and value better.