Influencer marketing is one of the oldest tricks in the advertising playbook despite what Instagram may tell you. Sure, Instagram influencers are shiny and new with their droves of followers, but really the first person to use influence to promote his wares was Josiah Wedgwood. A talented potter, he leveraged his status as an approved craftsman of Queen Charlotte to elevate his business and art.
Once he labeled his work as “Queensware,” everyone had to have it. An endorsement from the Queen herself added a layer of luxury to his pottery and he raked in the benefits.
While Wedgwood likely did not send a carefully curated influencer box to Queen Charlotte to get his pottery in front of her, it’s easy to see why modern marketers take this approach in an attempt to gain approval from some of social media’s biggest names and get their products in front of massive followings.
But what exactly is an influencer box? And can an influencer box strategy work for your small business?
What is an influencer box?
Part promotional mailer, part care package, an influencer box includes a curated selection of products and treats to encourage the recipient to post about the sender on social media. Usually, these are sent to influencers (hence the name influencer box) with large online audiences because they have built trust with their followers.
According to the Edelman Brand Trust Survey conducted in 2019, 81% of respondents said trust directly impacts their decisions to buy something; however, only a third of those said they trust the actual brand. Let me repeat that. Only a third of the people who say trust impacts their purchasing decision actually trust the brand they’re buying from. That means there’s a huge trust gap!
One of the easiest ways to bridge the trust gap is to have someone they already trust champion your cause. That’s where an influencer marketing strategy comes in.
There are several ways to get started in influencer marketing. From sponsored content (that has strict disclosure rules) and content collaborations to long-term ambassadors and guest takeovers, there are tons of fun ways to partner with online personalities to build your credibility and delight their audience (which should always be part of your strategy).
But the most fun way to get in the influencer marketing game, in our opinion, is sending an influencer box. These custom boxes give you the opportunity to create an experience with your product for the recipient, thus creating an ideal image or video of the unboxing to post to their followings. Here are five ideas to get you started planning.
5 Custom Influencer Boxes Ideas To Try
Free Product Previews
Are you about to introduce a new product to your line up? New products are a perfect time to introduce an influencer box strategy into your overall marketing game. You can pair the new product with items you already offer or put together a theme box with your new product as the star. For example, if you’re releasing a new blend of nighttime tea, you could pair the blend with a mug, a cozy pair of socks, and a satin sleep mask to add a wow factor that makes it impossible to resist trying your new item.
One word of warning: if your new product isn’t available for purchase when you send out your influencer boxes, make sure to include a note stating when it’s available and how people can find it once it is!
Movie Night In
Netflix is known for sending custom influencer boxes around the time of new releases on the service to create hype and entice people to watch the new film. When it released Kissing Booth 2 last year, influencers all over the Internet got curated boxes with die-cut “kissing booth” banners and carnival-themed treats to match the setting of the movie. While you might not be launching a new movie, you can set the stage for a night in with your product as the leading actor. Be mindful to not align a specific movie with your business (you know, for #legality), but don’t be afraid to get creative.
For example, if you have a new nail polish line coming out, you can include the line along with suggestions for curating a girls night in movie playlist. Win-win!
Their Favorite Things
Are you interested in targeting micro influencers? They are a fantastic group to promote your product with because you can learn so much about them and tailor their box to their favorite things. I’ve seen authors do this at the launch of a book. They include a copy of their book along with things the recipient may have mentioned in passing (like a favorite brand of notebook or pen). All in all, this influencer box strategy works well because you’re aligning your product with things the recipient already likes.
Your Favorite Things
Another twist on an influencer box of favorite things is to send them all of your favorite things (and your product, too)! The team at Olive & June nail polish did this recently with a Megababe collaboration. The two founders curated their favorite things (including signature products from each brand) in a special edition box anyone could buy. But they sent out the boxes to big and small influencers ahead of the release day to drum up excitement.
If you don’t have a new product coming out but want to jump into the influencer box marketing game, you can use the traditional calendar to inform your strategy. Find the best season or upcoming holiday to theme your influencer box around, and time the delivery to line up with a special event in an influencer’s life, a favorite seasonal experience, or a traditional holiday that they will already create content around.
Dos and Don’ts of Influencer Boxes
The tricky part is that influencers are consumers, too. And most are running legitimate businesses and making a living through what they promote. In other words, there’s no such thing as a free lunch or an expectation that someone will post about your product if you send it to them for free.
We’ve even seen reports of sketchy behavior from companies adding clauses to the outside of packages threatening legal action if an influencer opens the box without posting about it. Don’t be that brand. So let’s run through a few dos and don’ts of influencer boxes before we go.
DO: Research influencers in your space using the right tools.
Deciding who you would love to partner with is half the fun! We would never recommend sending boxes to hundreds of influencers and seeing which ones post. Your return on investment will be much greater if you research the authorities in the spaces where you want your brand to appear, set your goals, and reach out for contact information using appropriate channels.
DO: Include instructions for how to talk about your product
Influencers are just like us, and they don’t want to spend their time researching how to tell their followers to buy from you. Always try to include a calling card with essential information about your brand, the product, and how people can find you online. This is also a great place to add any upcoming dates, embargo information and how they can partner with you in the future.
DON’T: Get your hopes up too high
As with any marketing endeavor, one important piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked is how we manage our expectations. In theory, every marketing campaign, including ones that involve influencer boxes, has the potential to be knocked out of the park. But there are many moving pieces and parts to a strategy like this one. Shipping logistics, correct delivery addresses, and an influencer that opens packages promptly all factor into the success of this campaign. (That’s why we always recommend sending a heads up that there’s something on the way.) So make sure to manage your expectations, and remember the goals of your campaign.
Influencer Boxes, Product Release Ideas, and More
Interested in tossing around ideas for influencer boxes, product releases, and other fun and unexpected marketing strategies for your small business? We have some of the brainiest and bubbliest marketers in the business inside our free Facebook group for entrepreneurs. And they’re waiting to help you solve your marketing problems. Join us and get ready to meet your new marketing BFFs.