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Q&A with Vanessa Ulrich of Primpy Sheep

Q&A with Vanessa Ulrich of Primpy Sheep
Kendall Dougherty
written by
Kendall Dougherty

Influencer marketing has become an integral part of our social media strategies for our clients. Why?

  • 70% of millennial consumers make purchasing decisions based on recommendations from peers. (Thought Catalog)
  • 82% of consumers are highly likely to follow a micro-influencer recommendation on a product or service. (Hubspot)
  • Results are trackable. Engagement rates, link tracking, and more allow us to determine the success of a campaign.

We see working with an influencer as an opportunity to build a relationship for our clients, and we take great pride in our lengthy resume of positive and impactful influencer campaigns. One influencer we have the great pleasure of working with is Vanessa Ulrich of The Primpy Sheep. We asked her a few questions about life as an online influencer and the role that marketing agencies play in her success. Check it out.

Can you please introduce yourself to our readers who aren’t aware of your work?

I started The Primpy Sheep blog in 2017 as a platform to share the things I love around fashion, travel, and stylish destinations. I’ve grown my following and readership within the D.C./Baltimore area and beyond, having worked with big brands like J. Crew, Neutrogena, and Modus Hotels, as well as locally based ones like Zachary’s Jewelers, Laiik, and Skincando. It’s a creative outlet as well as a way for me to polish my craft in marketing and communications. By day, I manage client accounts and lead public relations activities at a healthcare consulting firm.

I also work to bring together creators within the community. I’ve written from my own experience on topics like how photographers and bloggers can collaborate and how to authentically grow your network on social media (and in real life), and I plan quarterly roundtable meetups for Baltimore bloggers to connect with each other and share knowledge around a chosen topic.

How long have you been working with brands on paid partnerships?

My first paid partnership was November 2018, a full year after I started my blog. I knew I needed to build a strong portfolio of work and an audience before I could start pitching myself.

When a brand approaches you, what tips you off that the partnership will be a good fit?

A professional, personalized, and well-written pitch is always a great sign! DMs are okay, but quickly get buried; emails are better—especially since mine is linked in my Instagram profile. Beyond that, I’ve started researching the brands I collaborate with to assess fit. First I do a gut check–would I be excited to represent this brand or experience? Sometimes that’s enough, but I also have a checklist that I work though: sustainable production, thoughtful design, woman- or minority-owned business, and overall company philosophy—what it stands for—are the things I think about.

Do you ever say no to partnership opportunities? If so, why?

Yes, often. My followers know who I am, and I won’t jeopardize their loyalty by taking on a partnership that they’ll quickly see isn’t authentic. Also, my blog is my side hustle and I have a limited amount of time to work on it every week. To post about a product I usually have to scope out a location for a shoot, source a photographer, wake up early on a weekend, style the product, shoot the product, edit the photos, write copy for it, draft and schedule social media posts…it’s a lot of work, so I have to be picky about the value to me and to my audience.

How do your brand partnerships benefit from having a marketing agency acting as the go-between, where that is the case?

As an agency-side marketing and PR professional myself, I find marketing agency contacts extremely valuable. These are professionals who work with influencers every day and who have worked with their clients to understand their needs and goals. The most effective agency contacts have a keen understanding of influencer needs and workflows and are consummate project managers. They’re used to coordinating multiple stakeholders, and they’re the ones who will ensure a campaign runs smoothly.

What’s something you wish brands knew about the behind-the-scenes life of an influencer?

First, great influencers are also skilled content creators and can offer many valuable services above and beyond access to an engaged audience, like high-quality photography, authentic videos, and writing. These can be leveraged for paid advertising and on other channels beyond an influencer’s owned accounts (make this clear in the contract and pay fairly for it). Brands can and should get creative, and ask the influencer for their ideas about the best way they can help support a brand with their unique skills.

Second, being an influencer takes a lot of time and work to do well, especially when it comes to running a blog. I make the distinction that while virtually all bloggers are influencers, many influencers only have social media accounts, and do not run their own websites. The biggest benefits of engaging an influencer for a blog post over (or in addition to) an Instagram post are in search engine optimization and Pinterest linking.

Lastly, I wish more brands knew how much influencers love meeting and supporting each other! A national brand I worked with did this virtually by bringing all of us together in an Instagram DM group so we could like and comment on each others’ posts, which also boosted everyone’s visibility. Local companies will often host exclusive in-person events for all their brand ambassadors. If someone follows two or three of us—how much stronger is the brand’s message to that individual when they see it in multiple stories and posts? Building community adds value in many ways, so take the opportunity to connect all the influencers working on a campaign.

Read Vanessa’s full post on How to Work with Influencers here.