Influencer Marketing: A Story Of Shoes, Bikes, And Style

This is a story about cycling shoes. And marketing. Bear with me. 

Back in 2015, my favorite professional cyclist on the planet was Bradley Wiggins. It had been three years since the opinionated Briton had won the 2012 Tour de France, followed just a month later with the time trial gold medal at the London Olympics. Since then, he had won a time trial world championship, set the hour record, and established himself as the essence of cool in a sport crowded with big egos and more than a bit of conceit. 

If none of that matters to you, don’t worry, because this isn’t about his Bradley Wiggins winning bicycle races. It’s about his shoes. 

At one of his final races, Wiggins showed up the Paris-Roubaix, one of the most famous one-day races in the world, in white Giro Empire shoes. While most cycling shoes use Velcro straps, dials, or a combination of the two, Empires pioneered the brave return of laces. Laces are, on the whole, a terrible idea for a cycling shoe. They can get caught in the drivetrain of your bike, they flap around and, most annoyingly, they have a penchant for breaking whenever the wearer is most in a rush to get out the door to ride. They do offer an incredibly adjustable and the ultimate selling point for any cyclist, a whole load of style. 

I knew all of this, but still, Wiggins wore them, so I needed them. I bought them a week later thanks to a deal with a friend who just so happened to be a Giro rep. He said he’d sold more white Giro Empires in the last week than they had all year, which was five months at that point. “We really owe Wiggins for this; and to think, we didn’t even pay the guy!”

That’s not influencer marketing; it’s influencer marketing when that figure takes a cut. There’s nothing new about influencer marketing, though it’s seen a marked increase since the rise of social media. It takes product placement off movies and TVs and places it in screens that are far more accessible, our phones and computers. It allows for precise targeting and puts products and services on platforms that serve as checkouts; you can’t “Buy Now” from a TV spot, but you can on social media. 

And it works. 80% of marketers say it’s effective, while 89% say it’s effective most of the time. Maybe the most important variable isn’t total reach or volume, but quality. According to the same poll, 71% of respondents say that influencer marketing brings in higher quality traffic than other sources. 

Many of us have to raise a hand to being influenced. In fact, nearly 50% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase due to influencers on social media. 

The main goals of this style of marketing are brand awareness, reaching new customers, and increasing conversions. Depending on the brand or product, meeting those goals can be achieved on nearly any size budget. We’ve worked with influencers for single events and for months and paid fees ranging from simply sending product for a single post to contracts based on conversions and clicks. 

Heading into fall, we’ve been incorporating more and more creative marketing solutions for brands of all sizes, and influencer marketing has consistently proven to be a cost-effective option for almost any industry. Want to learn more? Let us know. And yes, I still have those shoes.