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18 Ways Growing Businesses Can Use Influencers In Holiday Marketing

As the holidays approach, leveraging the reach and authenticity of influencers in seasonal marketing campaigns can be a game-changer for small, growth-stage companies. By landing the right influencer partnerships, growing companies can tap into highly engaged audiences, build credibility and create a buzz that takes their brand awareness and revenue to the next level.

To optimize holiday marketing budgets for maximum impact, the trick is finding the right influencer to amplify a brand’s seasonal offerings to the right audience in the right way. Below, 18 members of Forbes Agency Council explore unique ideas that growing small and midsized businesses can use to get their products and services in front of a relevant, trusted influencer’s devoted followers this holiday season.

1. Offer Influencers Early Product Samples

For maximum exposure this holiday season, a company should craft key messages in advance and plan influencer marketing early. By involving influencers and media in early product testing, a brand can enhance its chances of gaining press coverage and social media attention. Along with offering sample products, send personalized letters, press releases and fact sheets to convey brand messaging and amplify reach. – Durée Ross, Durée & Company, Inc.

2. Produce A ‘Day In The Life’ Video

A growth-stage candle company, for example, could partner with a midtier influencer to produce a “Day in the Life” video of the influencer. By documenting their holiday preparations, the influencer could showcase how the candles enhance the ambiance. This authentic glimpse through the influencer’s eyes makes the brand relatable, showing the product’s integral role in a genuine holiday setting. – Qamar Zaman, KISS PR Brand Story Press Release Distribution

3. Run Meta Partnership Ads And TikTok Spark Ads

Here’s an approach that can scale this holiday season: First, run Meta partnership ads to boost the influencers’ posts as branded content ads on Facebook and Instagram; the influencers grant the company permission to use their content and likeness. Then, repurpose influencers’ organic posts into TikTok Spark Ads, including a direct link to the product page where viewers can transact. – Steven Lammertink, The Cirqle

4. Set Up Strategic Barter Deals

Small, growth-stage companies face limited capital and low awareness. To overcome these hurdles, creativity is essential, and leveraging influencer talent through strategic barter deals presents an effective solution. By aligning with influential figures and engaging their audiences creatively in the realm of entertainment, these companies can establish a solid position in the marketplace. – Jeremy Holley, FlyteVu Agency

5. Let Influencers Get A Piece Of The Action

The first objective should be to build awareness and provide education about what is probably a relatively unknown company, and the second is to move product. So build an affiliate influencer program, which could be code-based, or set up on an affiliate platform such as ShareASale that allows the influencer to get a piece of the action. Now that influencer has a vested interest in tapping into their community. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller


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6. Have Micro-Influencers Showcase Your Product

Target micro-influencers who align with your product and brand to partner with. Allow them the flexibility and creativity to showcase your product in their way and on their schedule, whether that’s through contests, giveaways or simply by using your products daily. When influencers feature products in their feed with authenticity and their own personal touch, awareness and demand will increase naturally. – Monica Alvarez-Mitchell, Pulse Creative, LLC

7. Focus On Seeding Influencers Now

Work with as many micro-influencers as you can by simply sending them free products. Document the ones who get you the best results, and then do a more robust paid campaign with them during the Q4 season. It’s a great way to inexpensively test influencers and their audiences without risking your marketing budget prior to Q4. – Andrew Maffettone, BlueTuskr

8. Do A Sustained, Thematic Influencer Campaign

Engaging with an influencer on a sustained, thematic campaign, such as a countdown, can generate anticipation, sustained engagement and virality, maximizing ROI. Encourage the influencer’s audience to participate by sharing their own stories or content. For an “ugly sweater” brand, for example, the influencer could unveil a new sweater each day, share a personal story related to it, and offer a 10% discount code. – Ivana Johnston, Puzzle Partner Ltd,

9. Solicit And Amplify UGC

Start now to find the right group of influencers who have the right voice for your company and offering. We work with a lot of higher ed organizations, and while a class or a degree isn’t something that would show up on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list, it’s a unique gift that could transform a life. The strategy is to solicit and amplify user-generated content, such as a video story on how a single class or credential has changed a life. – Rosie Walker, Mediate.ly

10. Co-Create A ‘Gift’

With the holidays comes the tradition of gift giving. Small, growth-stage companies can leverage influencer marketing to co-create a “gift” related to the company’s product or service area. Whether it has a special color, style or feature or comes with influencer-inspired packaging or a bespoke service, co-creation takes influencer marketing to a new and unique level. – Alicia Arnold, Fifty Five

11. Incentivize Influencers With Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are great ways to engage micro-influencers—not just as content sharers, but also as incentivized sellers! This is when your influencers have the opportunity to showcase their own collections, products or designs to gain a share of the profits from what they showcase, which makes the partnership a win-win. – Lili Gil Valletta, CIEN+

12. Let Fans Vote On Holiday-Themed Influencer Designs

A growth-stage tech accessory firm, for example, could team up with tech influencers for a “Deck the Tech” campaign. Influencers can design holiday-themed phone cases or laptop skins, and fans can vote for their favorites, generating buzz. When winning designs are produced, influencers can then highlight them, offering followers a limited-time purchase link. This strategy blends exclusivity, creativity and audience engagement to boost sales. – Hasan Saleem, DSS MEDIA

13. Offer An Enticing Affiliate Commission

Affiliate marketing is key. Whether your new brand is large or small, ensure it has an affiliate link attached to it—not only for influencers, but for media as well. This is a must for holiday promotions. Also, ensure that the affiliate commission rate you offer is over 15% to entice influencers to become loyal supporters and expand your reach. – Jessica Kopach, The JKO Agency, LLC.

14. Have Local Influencers Curate Gift Bundles

For a small, growth-stage company, consider a “Gifts from Local Heroes” campaign. Partner with local influencers who embody the holiday spirit. Have them curate personalized gift bundles made up of your products and/or services and share their own stories about the items. This adds authenticity and local charm to your brand, which will resonate strongly with audiences during the holiday season. – Andriy Chumachenko, Netpeak

15. Align With Local Micro-Influencers In Growth Stages

Research and align with local micro-influencers in your niche whose personal brands are also in their early growth stages. Be honest and humble with your outreach, and share how working together can benefit you both. Offer products and affiliate links in exchange for posts and giveaways. Make it clear that you want them to grow with you! – Bernard May, National Positions

16. Find Influencers Who Represent Your Brand Ethos

With their engaged, trusting followers, micro- to midtier influencers tend to move the needle more, but strategic targeting and authenticity are key with a following of any size. When influencers truly represent your brand ethos, you’re able to engage more organically with top-tier influencers and even expand partnerships with co-branded special releases using a budget-friendly, revenue-sharing approach. – Reid Lappin, Vokal

17. Get Featured In An Influencer’s Holiday Gift Guide

Identify right-fit influencers who publish holiday gift guides and pitch your product or service for inclusion. Don’t forget to provide a gratis sample for the influencer so that they can give it their authentic stamp of approval. These placements typically come with lower fees than traditional sponsored content collaborations, making them more accessible to smaller companies that are on their way up. – Cooper Munroe, The Motherhood Inc.

18. Feature Several Influencers In A Holiday-Centric Campaign

Engage in a holiday-centric campaign featuring several influencers, from micro- to larger-scale. Go beyond one social media platform by engaging target audiences across different channels. And since we are talking about the holidays, what better way is there to engage influencers than to talk about their favorite gifts and perhaps even offer a go-to guide on how to survive the holiday season without breaking the bank? – Nataliya Andreychuk, Viseven