Defining talent can be a challenge. Todays' talent pool is largely oversaturated. Celebrities? Influencers? Micro-influencers? Because influencers are still crossing over into traditional Hollywood (for example, Lilly Singh as NBC's first female late-night talk show host), and traditional celebrities are creating YouTube accounts (Alicia Keys seen here talking about her skincare routine), it is hard to know who falls under what talent category. Brands now have many diverse and exciting routes to take, which makes creating a talent strategy quite complicated.
The talent identification process is the most crucial part of any talent or influencer initiative. It is so crucial that, when a talent partnership is announced, it can instantaneously lead to a spike in brand-interest and sales, or cause internet trolls to turn your brand into a humiliating meme. Agencies that develop talent and influencer strategies tend to move quickly and often create a strategy before identifying talent. Sometimes, there is little to no time to thoroughly research talent and influencers and they are slated into a strategy that may not maximize their potential. I've found that the one thing that prevents a talent strategy from being successful is not prioritizing the talent identification process.
I want to suggest some new ways of working before developing a talent strategy. The first step is to block off adequate time to research potential talent partners. I recommend two to three full days of research. The second step is to use talent exercises to assess the many different types of talent that exist and explore how they can complement your brand. Below are four talent-related exercises that can help you get started.
Create and explore a list of well-known talents who embody your brand mission, and can be seen naturally using your products. This list of talent can include reach-talent, meaning talent you might not be able to afford, but their attributes make them a strong talent archetype for your brand. You'll want to make a note of their active social platforms, as well as anything you can find in the press that enhances their profile (i.e., an upcoming book tour, a new podcast, a forthcoming movie, etc.).
Create and explore a list of talent who may be off-brand, but can bring a certain level of excitement. This exercise is great if you are going through a re-brand or launching a new product. Remember, this is a brainstorming exercise, and the goal is to think unconventionally.
Utilize tools such as Julius or Creator IQ to do a quick search for lesser-known talent and also start lightly vetting all lists to make sure they cross off your business requirements (engagement rates, audience demographics, etc.).
Soft-sound a few talents. This part is essential. Reach out and set up a few 5-10 minute conversations. Explore how he/she feels about your brand, and see if he/she hold any ideas on how to work with your brand without telling them your specific brand goals. This could become difficult if an agent gets involved. But doing this will help you know what types of talent are available, interested, and have ideas of their own.
Once you've compiled a list of talent that show interest in your brand and align with your brand goals, you can begin to develop tailored strategies specifically for each talent. Developing a strategy from the jump works if you don't care too much about leveraging each talents' capabilities. But I believe dedicating time to evaluate talent through exercises and getting to know their capabilities on a deeper level will help you make more informed decisions on platforms choices, deliverables, and ways of working, ultimately setting the partnership up for higher success.