On the surface the new Mattio Communications influencer marketing subsidiary, Confluence Agency looks like a typical influencer public Relations service, but it is much more than that. To be sure, the group does specifically focus on finding great brand ambassadors for its clients. However, Mattio Communications Founder and CEO Rosie Mattio envisions Confluence having a much bigger impact than just helping clients connect with great influencers. Part of this goal is centered around the new CEO of Confluence, Victoria “Tori” Baek.
Baek was the head of influencer marketing at MATTIO before taking on the new role of CEO. Before entering the world of cannabis, she was head of influencer marketing and brand partnerships at HARMAN International where she spearheaded the JBL Master Class series, a monthly program featuring electronic producers and hip-hop artists that not only brought the HARMAN portfolio to millions of new deal but also generated new brand deals. She has also worked with legacy consumer brands including Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, Disney, and Forever 21.
“Tori’s really such a rock star,” said Mattio. She said she immediately recognized Baek’s talent and said she wanted to help set her up as a CEO. “Helping another female entrepreneur become the CEO of a company is coming full circle. I’m paying it forward and it makes me super proud. Maybe we can be an incubator for other female CEO’s in communications. This can be the future for us as well.” Baek now has a team of three reporting to her.
While Baek left the traditional product world to come to Mattio, a communications firm known for its focus on cannabis companies, Confluence will return her to sectors like fashion, beauty, food, home, tech, lifestyle, and travel as influencer marketing becomes an integral aspect of building brand value across all industries.
Importance of Influencers
Over the past ten years, influencer marketing has become a preferred strategy for brands to engage with target audiences. A print magazine ad may be pretty to look at, but brands can’t measure how many eyeballs actually see the ad. If an influencer has 100,000 or even a million followers, the reach becomes much easier to measure. Increased social media usage has allowed brands to drive sales and improve brand awareness with curated content generated by micro and macro-influencers. According to Insider Intelligence, the value of the influencer marketing industry is projected to reach $15 billion by 2022 as more brands invest in building authentic long-term consumer relationships.
“Our clients were looking for this,” said Mattio. “It’s a great medium for cannabis clients because we lack access to traditional advertising. Plus, we provided other services to our clients like IR (investor relations), media, and content. So when they asked if we could bring influencers into the picture, we started to create this group and that’s when we found Tori. We now have around 15 clients in the cannabis space that use influencers.”
However, even this aspect of marketing in the cannabis industry brings challenges. Cannabis companies can’t pay influencers, but they can provide them with products. This means Baek must find people who are real believers in the product. Mattio said it forces her to be more creative and find true brand ambassadors since they aren’t getting paid and it lends authenticity.
“We also don’t cross-pollinate,” said Mattio. “An influencer that makes sense for Canndescent, isn’t going to be the same person for say Curaleaf (OTC: CURLF). We want real partners, not someone who makes one post and moves on.”
Making the task even harder is the intensely local nature of cannabis companies. Someone who may be an influencer in the Los Angeles market, may not be the best person for the Detroit market. Baek has been able to tap into her extensive network to find people within the various states that will resonate far better than maybe a nationally known person. Mattio said Baek has been able to build out an influencer network in small markets as well as large ones.
“The influencer industry has evolved from one-off transactions to valuable, long-term partnerships. Online communities allow brands to connect authentically with audiences in a way that drives measured performance,” said Victoria Baek, CEO of Confluence Agency. Baek has also been able to create a crossover effect as the stigma around cannabis lessens. She’s been able to draw in influencers from more traditional industries to cannabis and pull cannabis influencers to more traditional consumer brands.
Confluence Agency manages influencer marketing strategies for brands from start to end. From identifying celebrity and/or niche influencers to creating content guidelines to handling the logistics of gifting programs, the Confluence team takes a goal-oriented approach to every campaign in order to track progress.