This summer, Jennifer Convertibles used influencer content to reach new consumers, particularly Millennials, during its digital age comeback.
The furniture brand’s commercials were a staple of ’90s television, though the company went on to struggle with its reputation – Jennifer Convertibles consistently received F’s from the Better Business Bureau from 2006 through 2009 – and as a result, its sales fell too. The brand eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010. Jennifer Convertibles reemerged the following year, focusing more on digital, which is illustrated by the brand’s recent partnership with SheSpeaks, a content-creation platform that boasts more than 250,000 women whose combined network reach across their blogs and social platforms is about 100 million.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Jennifer Convertibles gave a sofa to a SheSpeaks influencer, all of whom earned contest entries by sharing which of three couches they’d most like to win on Twitter. The influencers, who the brand reached out to via email and social, included photos that linked back to Jennifer’s website.
“I think it’s just helping in general to really inform people that Jennifer has more than sofa beds. It’s just helping get the word out that we’re here and [people] should check us out,” says Gina Kobler, e-commerce director for Jennifer Convertibles.
This campaign served to let consumers know that the Long Island-based retailer is back, with the help of the women’s massive collective reach. Kobler adds that a brand’s first foray into influencer marketing can be scary because people can say anything. However, she was pleased to see that all three sofas got positive reviews. The sofas were largely preferred because of the influencers’ personal styles and color schemes, rather than because one couch was particularly superior or inferior to the others.
“People were saying stuff like, they like a style because it’s more contemporary or shabby-chic or something like that,” Kobler says. “When you do something like this, you really expose yourself because you’re asking people to take their opinion, and that can be good or bad. It was wonderful to see that the comments were positive and open.”
Though it’s too early to tell the ROI of the campaign, Kobler says that within one week, the various blog posts generated 1,500 comments and 988 Tweets, resulting in a total of 3.1 million impressions and an unduplicated reach of 1.9 million. Because of all the comments, including those on SheSpeaks’ initial blog post, the campaign ended up serving as an unofficial focus group.
SheSpeaks was able to give Jennifer qualitative feedback regarding who said what about which sofa. In addition, the content-creation platform provided insight about the various commenters’ demographics, which is always the centerpiece of SheSpeaks’ brand partnerships.
Aliza Freud, chief executive of SheSpeaks, explains that brands always want to work with an influencer within a specific target; the platform pairs them up based on the women’s respective social platforms and reach. She adds that because of their digital nature, the calls-to-action are much more accessible in a campaign like this.
“If I’m a YouTube personality and I have a huge audience, I can make you become aware of a product and give you an opportunity to go buy it in one fell swoop,” she says. “I can tell you about an apron and give you a link to go buy that product in one action. You don’t get that from other forms of advertising.”
Want to try your hand at influencer marketing? Here are a few tips from Kobler and Freud, on the heels of their partnership.
- If you’re hesitant to try influencer marketing because you think it’s an ephemeral trend: you’re probably wrong. According to business management consultant McKinsey & Company, influencer marketing generates twice the sales of paid advertising and more than 60 percent of leading brands plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year.
- Clearly define not only what you want to achieve, but what you think is realistic.
- Look for common ground. “Do your research, and reach out to influencers that share in your brand’s values and core,” Kobler says. Freud adds that you should also choose influencer partnerships based on the target audience you want to reach. Jenna Marbles is one of the definitive YouTube stars, but she probably wouldn’t make sense for this Jennifer Convertibles campaign.
- Figure out which kind of social content will work best for your brand, product and campaign. “If you’re a food brand, engaging an influencer to create a tantalizing recipe in their kitchen captured on video and then amplified could be an outstanding choice,” Freud says. “By comparison a simple tweet about your food product may not be as engaging for an influencer’s audience.”