How much easier would life be if olive oil came in a squeeze bottle?
This isn’t just the DTC Graza olive oil brand’s pitch to customers, but also the line used by the brand’s social media consultant, Kendall Dickieson, while trying to woo potential influencers.
“I was sliding into people’s DMs with — call it a pickup line — like one-liners,” Dickieson told Marketing Brew. This one-liner was part of a strong influencer marketing strategy that helped Graza, a squeezable olive oil brand, sell after its Jan. 11 launch.
Graza co-founders Andrew Benin and Allen Dushi tapped Dickieson (who is also an influencer in the food space to), as well as marketing consultant Grace Clarke, to help execute the brand’s strategy for its debut.
Their strategy involved treating retail stores as influencers in their own right and taking a slower, tiered approach to influencer giveaways, starting with small creators before moving to macro-level ones.
Retail stores as influencers
Graza has worked with influencers on all the usual social channels: Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. But he’s also collaborated with retail stores to spread the word.
“We need to take a very broad view of what influencer and creator mean,” Clarke told us. The team contacted 80 retailers in the United States, offering them samples for customers as well as a few free bottles for employees. About half initially responded, and more joined after Graza was officially launched. His team told retailers they weren’t obligated to post about Graza or do anything in return.
Graza sent packages to a variety of small retailers, focusing on stores where other brands of olive oil were unlikely to be sold — such as pet stores and children’s toy stores — assuming their clientele is probably made up of family members. These stores included Two children and a dog in Dumbo, Brooklyn, Miracle Mile Toys and Gifts and healthy place in LA, and Mishka dog shop in San Francisco.
“Whether family means to them humans or animals, they care for another creature. And we thought that might mean they want to spend time building a house and nesting,” she said. For example, she thought that parents who cook with children nearby might be interested in Graza’s plastic bottles over traditional glass bottles.
Dickieson said she wanted people to interact with Graza’s social media accounts even before the brand’s website went live, so she started posting content about two months before the launch.
This meant that Graza needed influencer content long before launch day itself. Dickieson therefore made sure that micro-influencers (which she defines as those with between 25,000 and 150,000 followers) and nano-influencers (less than 10,000 followers) receive free olive oil per mail weeks before launch. Macro influencers, or those she defined as people with more than 200,000 followers, received products closer to launch.
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“With smaller creators, it’s much easier to get user-generated content,” she said. “I don’t mean it’s always guaranteed they’ll release it, but I just had a hunch that, I know, the product is really great.” Small influencers, she said, often ended up using the olive oil in the next recipe they posted or posted directly after receiving their box.
With bigger influencers, it’s less common: Dickieson told us they have more saved content calendars full of branded deals and other posts. She timed it for packages to hit the doors of top players just before launch day, as she said their posts tended to drive more conversions. If they published before launch, their followers wouldn’t have to buy anything.
In total, more than 100 packages were sent to influencers before the website went live. The small influencer efforts helped sell the launch, according to Dickieson. Messages from macro-influencers on launch day, however, contributed to pre-orders for the next delivery.
Like the retailers he reached out to, influencers weren’t explicitly asked to post or share anything about Graza, Dickieson said.
” I did not ask anything. I just gave them the product,” she told us.
How? ‘Or’ What
train your dragon choose your influencers
Like its retail strategy, the Graza team wanted to work with influencers that other olive oil brands might not think of reaching out to.
For example, Dickieson said she focused on barbecue and pizza lovers in hopes of broadening the perception of olive oil use.
Of course, she also reached out to the top chefs and Emily Marikos of the world.
“We went after people that if you saw this on their account, people would want to ask about it,” Dickieson told us.
And these people did more than just ask. Within seven days of her debut, Graza posted a 7.91% conversion rate on her site from her Instagram bio, a 181% increase in follower growth on her social accounts, and a 429% increase the total number of post interactions, based on data shared with Marketing. Brew.
Dickieson attributes these statistics, in part, to the freedom Graza’s founders gave him as a social media manager. “You really need confidence…to be able to test freely and frequently, and to have the people behind the team really supporting you on that,” she said.