The Influencer Summit team had the change to talk with Joel Beckett, CEO of The Outloud Group, a Detroit-based influencer marketing agency, about the value of influencer marketing, the opportunity it presents for brands, and how brands should think about influencer marketing as a full-funnel strategy.

Tell us more about how your educational background led you to launch The Outloud Group.

Joel: My educational background was in the humanities which I believe teaches a person how to learn, how to think critically, how to get to the heart of an issue and thus uncover opportunities. The Outloud I started is very different from what it is today. We originally were publishing podcasts, but as I was getting advertising for my own podcasts, I realized there was a much bigger opportunity that most big agencies were missing. When I taught CNN how to sell me their podcasts, I realized the market hadn’t kept up with demand and there was a real opportunity. We grew from a podcast into YouTube and other social media as the influencer space really began to take shape.

How does your background and personal interest in philosophy and personal development impact your unique approach to creating brand stories and working with influencers?

Joel: Understanding marketing is simply understanding people. Those who truly understand others’ situations, positions, needs, issues, etc., are going to be the most successful in influencer marketing.

When selecting an influencer and creating a campaign, what personal guidelines do you follow? Are there any dealbreakers, or things you won’t do?

Joel: For sure. There are any number of reasons why a creator wouldn’t be good for a brand – from content alignment to brand safety. We’re looking for good people that have influence who can genuinely endorse a brand.

What’s the biggest barrier you encounter when creating an influencer campaign, and how do you overcome it?

Joel: The biggest barrier is typically around the brand’s KPIs. Influencer is a full-funnel activity and needs to be measured as such if the brand is going to understand the value. Many brands either treat this as a branding play, or only focus on performance/acquisition. It’s both, and brands need a model that accounts for the full value of influencer marketing.

Do you intuitively know an influencer campaign is going to be successful before it launches, and if so, how? And how do you measure success post-launch?

Joel: Generally yes, but we’re occasionally surprised. If a brand is thinking about influencer marketing the right way, as a full-funnel channel, isn’t too controlling around the message, and has a good product that creators can genuinely endorse, then it will be successful.

Thank you, Joel, for the great insights! We’re excited to hear you speak on how to measure your influencer marketing programs in Chicago at the Influencer Marketing Strategies Summit.