Jolie Jankowitz is an influencer marketing consultant for DTC companies and has worked with performance-driven brands across wellness, food, and beauty. Her clients have included Athletic Greens, Fly By Jing, OSEA, Bulletproof, Poppi, Liquid I.V., Harper Wilde, Cometeer, and more. Prior to consulting, she spent 8 years building and leading FabFitFun’s ROI-driven influencer marketing program. Jolie is originally from Boston and received a bachelor’s degree in Entertainment Marketing from Emerson College. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
You are a pioneer in the influencer marketing space. How did you get started working with influencers?
I started my career actually doing celebrity gifting. Do you know what that is like? Yeah. Like for all the award shows. And that was back in. 2008. So crazy. And then I noticed there was about to be this like big shift.
And that’s when I was actually trying to convince my boss at this celebrity gifting company. I was like, We need to start working with influencers. And he is like, No, timing’s not right. And I was like, Okay, I’m gonna go do it on my own. And so then, so I went to fa Fit Fun. I was one of the first few employees there.
And then I started the influencer marketing program from the ground up. We worked with over 40,000 influencers over my seven and a half years there, which is crazy.
Was it all pay for play or was like organic or It was both?
Everything. It was a mix. I mean obviously it, the landscape, I mean, you know, it changes like every single year.
So at the beginning it was like a lot of just like, it was a lot of gifting, very tiny budgets. And then the budgets grew. Like the more that Fab Fit Fund realized that. Influencer marketing was really like a growth machine for the company. Then we could justify putting more spend to it. And then, you know, I built out an amazing, like, well-oiled machine.
And I would say like probably 80% of what we did was paid, and then the rest was gifting and organic.
And how long were you there? And it must have been very hard to leave…
It was really hard to leave. I was there for seven and a half years. I was one of the first few employees. So, you know, when I first got there, there were a few of us, and then when I left, there were hundreds, I don’t know, I feel like maybe five or 600 people.
So it was a, a totally different company. Yeah, super hard to move on and leave my team and I was so loyal to the founders, but ultimately I felt like it was just what was best. And I had all these opportunities to help smaller. Direct to consumer brands, and that’s what I’m doing now.
What does it mean to be an influencer marketing consultant?
Yeah, so for me, my focus is actually really specific. I focus on performance driven influencer marketing, so it’s like all about the sales and conversions and all of that.
So, I advise my clients, which are, I would say 99.9% of them are direct to consumer brands. A lot of them are smaller. A lot of them are just getting started and they’re just like, I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll help them build like a highly efficient influencer program from scratch or help them optimize if it’s a bigger company, if they already have an established influencer program.
I help them optimize and scale what they already have. And just make it as efficient as possible. And so I’m either, I either consult or I actually also offer like actual execution services where I’m fully executing campaigns and you know, I’m like the one negotiating the deals with the agents writing the briefs, helping with the strategy.
I’m like, trying to think of what else. Oh. And mentoring the team members, which is always a really important thing for me.
How did Fab Fit, fun, prepare you for all this?
How did they not? I mean, it, I feel like it prepared me in literally every way possible. So it was obviously really challenging working at Fad Fit, fun because it was a fast growing startup and there was just so much.
Going on but also in a really exciting way. And you know, I feel like the early employees, like we all just put our blood, sweat and tears into our work and really learned how to also just be really adaptable and how to pivot like all the time, which I think is one of the most important things, an influencer marketing because the landscape is changing every single day.
And I think like the founders Mike, Michael and Daniel Burki, they’re amazing. They were so open-minded, they were willing to get creative. They were really willing to test anything. And like I said, you know, they were, they were so performance driven and they had very aggressive targets for us to meet.
And I’m really grateful for that because ultimately that’s what became my specialty and that’s what I do today with all my clients.
How do brands make sure that they’re optimizing for sales?
Yeah, so it’s funny because like, I think it’s much more common for brands to approach influencer marketing as top of funnel, but I only know bottom of the funnel. Like I, I mean, yeah, so I, everything I do has always been about sales. I don’t, I, I’ve never reported on impressions or like brand awareness lit.
I mean, I could figure it out. And what’s funny is I actually took on my first client, Last week and their brand awareness, I’m like, Oh, I could, It’s so much easier. It’s so much more like less stressful cuz I’m like, there aren’t these like really aggressive like ROEs or CPA or C Targets, whatever it is.
So like I’m actually really enjoying it. I was like, I could be creative and welcome to my world. You wanna come join mg? Like, maybe, maybe it’s so, it’s so nice.
How do you get someone to make sure that you’re doing an influencer campaign?
Well, I will say, I think a performance driven campaign is of course, like all trial and error. You never know what’s gonna convert. And I think my strategy is always casting a really wide net and doing a ton of testing at the beginning, and then taking a pause, you know, and then saying, Okay, what’s working, what’s not working?
And now whatever is. Let’s do that times a hundred. And then I think within that, in terms of how to like measure performance, like I’m a huge fan of coupon codes and tracking links to get all that data. And really like breaking the campaign down and getting really analytical what tier of influencer is converting, making sure to test them all.
What categories are confirm? Converting. Converting, Yeah. What channels? Yes. Are converting, you know, testing everything. Testing, YouTube, Instagram stories, reel. Maybe even blogs and Pinterest, you know, TikTok, did I say? Yeah. So interesting. We come at it from such different, Yeah, it’s totally opposite and it’s like, I’m happy that I had that performance driven background and I, I like that it is my specialty.
But yeah, it comes with a lot of challenges right now and a lot of managing client’s expectations of just like the reality. Five years ago, or even like three years ago, it was everything felt like low hanging fruit and now it’s just, that’s not what it. Well, low hanging fruit. I remember when you could just send something to influencers and not pay them and they’d be like, Oh, great, we’re gonna post.
Oh, yeah. In, in my first season at Fat Fit Fund, Actually, I think, this is really funny. My budget for the quarter, I believe was like, it was like a few thousand dollars, right? It was nothing. And they were like, Okay, you need to like, we wanna see like 10 x the return or something like that. And I did it, but it’s because most of the YouTubers were just gifted and.
Same YouTubers now charge a million dollars. So it’s just funny to see. And they, yeah, they posted about it for free. They did a full dedicated video. Do they still talk to you if you reach out, ? Probably. I, I, so probably, but I don’t know if they would even remember me. And here’s why. I don’t, for me, like for the brands that I’m working with, I’m not booking, you know, like million dollar deals.
These, like, I tried to spend so efficiently, right to the point where like most of the deals are under. $5,000 cuz that’s where you’re gonna see the most return. Amen. You know? Yeah. Yeah. It’s tough. .
What are you experiencing and how do you deal with conversations about rates?
Yeah. Yes. So I’m, I’m assuming maybe one of the groups you’re talking about is women in influencer marketing, which I just love, and I always joke to everyone. I’m like, I’m afraid I’m gonna like, get kicked out of that group, because I’m like known for like my, I wouldn’t say rants.
I think they’re, it’s, it’s conversations, right? But I have this one topic that. Stop talking about where it’s, again, what I, Like I said earlier about like influencer rates are at an all time high and performance is just at an all time low. And I go, I mean, I go on, I could talk, I could literally talk about this topic for, I mean, hours and hours.
So because of that, budgets are being slashed and I’m, I’m, I mean, I’m seeing this every day. Teams are getting laid off. I’m not even talking about actually any of my clients. Just in general, teams are getting laid like influencer teams. Influencer marketing team specifically Wow. Are getting laid off.
Actually, one of my in friends who’s an influencer marketing, like just texted me right before this layoffs at her company for her whole team. And they’re getting rid of influencer programs because they can’t justify the spend. And then smaller companies can’t justify breaking into the space because they test influencer marketing a little bit and then they give up early on because they’re not seeing the ROI up front.
And so, like for me, I. I mean, while this is happening, Mo let’s say, many influencers I think are overpricing themselves and so Agreed. Yeah. And so what the, what I actually, my, my rant or whatever I post in women in influencer marketing is, Always about this. It’s actually like, well, how can we solve this problem together?
Right. And something I proposed was, look, five years ago, if an agent came, a talent agent came to me and said, Can you share conversion data on my client? I probably wouldn’t have shared it if they performed well, in all fairness, I wouldn’t have, I would lose leverage. I wouldn’t have done it. Now, brands have less leverage and brand it’s in, I believe it’s in the brand’s best interest to be more transparent with all of that conversion data.
So talent agents know how to fairly price out their talent, and we’re all gonna help each other win. Does that make sense? But I, my fear is that it’s, again, wherein does lie influencer marketing. And if the conversion data’s not great, then these influencers whose rates are over here, the rates are gonna go down here.
Yeah. Well that influencers will lose leverage. And I, I, Right. Cause I think we’re starting to see that luckily too. So my whole strategy, like I said before, about like casting a wide net. The reason you also have to do that is because of rates.
So like, let me actually like give you specific numbers and these are like real numbers. So say a client needs to secure, they say for their January campaign, they need like one of my clients needs 20, around 20 influencers. I will go out, no joke. To probably 200 influencers. US two. Yep. Yeah. And they’ll all be quality, they’ll all be thoughtfully vetted and all great for their campaign.
But I do that knowing that probably most of those will not agree to the rate, but all you need are those 20 to actually do it. And, but then you need the client to approve those 20. So we usually give like double the amount so that they have extra options. Or you I have, yeah, I have my clients actually like review all, all of them being like, just literally everyone that you’re willing to approve.
And then I will just go out being like, Here’s the like, best and final, here’s what we could afford. And like, here’s what it’s worth. You know? Yeah. What’s, I don’t, I think it’s, this is part is interesting too. So my sister has a really big meme account with 2 million followers, which is crazy and I’m so proud of her.
It’s called 30 af and she does an amazing job with it. But it’s really been like eye opening for me to see it from the talent side and to like help her broker the deals and to see what people are offering her. But what I really respect and what I’ve like helped her with is that, If a client isn’t 100% happy, she will do make goods until they are thrilled.
See, and most people don’t. I think that it’s like, here it is, and by and like it’s very challenging. Yep, Yep. It is. I mean, I own a business. If someone’s not happy, I will give them their money back. I’ll do anything until they’re. Same. And I feel like that’s like missing sometimes. Lose that. Cuz I do think that there can be a lot of entitlement come and like, I think a lot of agents, I hate to say this, I’m gonna get in trouble.
I, Yeah, but there’s a lot of coddling and they like, they kind of feed into it and it’s like, Well the other thing too, sorry, is that, I think that the agents are not even, like, sometimes we’ll have an influencer write us saying, Why wasn’t I considered for that campaign? And we’re like, We wrote your agent.
They said no. Oh yeah. And sometimes you can tell when like the agent responds so quickly. I’m like, There’s no way you heard back from that talent. You know, cuz sometimes they just genuinely love the brand and they’ll, they’ll do it for 80% off, you know? Yeah. Yeah. It, yeah, it’s crazy. I wish that every, we could have like a panel and come together with rates.
Again, I worked in corporate America too, so, you know, is, does it make sense to pay $40,000 to someone who has, you know, 200,000 followers and only a certain percentage of that follower is gonna see what they write as a marketer? I don’t know. So that’s our job is to always. Yeah. And also just like I look at the conversion data for, from all of my clients, So I feel like I have a really good sense of really what that talent is worth, you know, and I, I fully respect influencers and like the, like the time and the effort and the pride, like everything that goes in to creating a piece of content.
I respect that so much. At the same time, I still think. It’s really important for them to be mindful and have integrity and really care and like value their relationship with the brand. And there, there are some influencers. Cuz I think that there’s two parts, right? Like it’s, you’re getting the awareness so the influencer is still creating the content, which that’s part of the fee, but then there’s like, oh, then there’s my audience.
Sure. And so it’s the creative side, which is a budget. And then, and I wonder if there’s two ways to bundle that out. I don’t know. For sure. And I mean, look, my, again, like my clients, like they’re not, I’ve, I’ve never ever used the words brand awareness, like at fact that fund, it was never a phrase that ever came up in my seven and a half years ago.
Unbelievable. Yeah. And it’s because it was both, it was influencer marketing was achieving both for us, it was a gr again, a growth machine for the company, growth engine, whatever for the company. But also, Awareness at the same time. So we didn’t really have to, you know, talk about that. Amazing.
In your opinion, what is the most innovative way in which a brand has leveraged influencers?
Yeah. Well, I’d love to give an example. It’s not, it’s not mine. It’s, I, I always wish I lay in bed at night thinking I’m like, God, I wish I came up with this. But, you know, airy, like American Eagle Air. Yeah. Yeah. I think they’re like the most brilliant influencer marketers and I like follow every single thing they do.
Like I’m an airy nerd, cuz I think it’s like the, their program is like the epitome of inclusivity. I think they’re like true. They are pioneers in the influencer space and how they approach influencer marketing. I think like they understand like 360 campaigns and they’re so thoughtful about it and everything feels so on brand and so authentic.
And the way they roll it out is just so brilliant. Like they have their ambassadors create product lines and then like host events and speak with the media and create content for their website. And it’s not, This is what I’m so passionate about right now. And I’m doing all these like engagements speaking.
Like omnichannel? Yeah. Like why aren’t brands leveraging influencers? Like, okay, like the one team is using influencer, but like the PR team’s doing something different for a magazine shoot, and then the shopper marketing team is doing like, why isn’t anyone saying. That’s, Yeah. Well, I think they have to, I think with, especially with just like performance kind of being down, I’m, I’m, I guess I’m talking mainly for like performance driven brands.
If they want to still continue to engage with influencers, they’re going to have to approach it from a more 360 yeah. View, whatever. I think we’re gonna see much more of that, I think. I hope, I mean, it was funny. During one of my sessions, I said How? Like, yes, everyone looks at ROI and that’s how your mind, But I’m also like, what about savings?
Like you get an influencer, you don’t, let’s say it’s food. You don’t need a food stylist, You don’t need a photographer. You don’t need like the recipe developer. You don’t need talent. It’s one person that could do all of it. And there is a saving, and I wish I could add up what that saving. Okay. You know what?
That’s so funny you say that Cuz also one of my clients, now I’m advising them on how to like optimize their program. And one of the things is I was like, Well, how are you leveraging all of these amazing creative assets? Like, let me look at the contract, what’s in the contract? And they’re like, Oh, they just post.
I’m like, just post on social like this. Absolutely beautiful content where you could be posting this, like, kind like what you said. You could use this in email. Obviously you’d have to pay for it, but like you pay a little bit more and you get so much bang for your buck. Email social. Use it for your community sweepstakes contest, anything.
Literally nine times outta 10 we have to write to branding. Are you even posting any of this content on your social and they don’t even remember to do. Kills me. That kills me. Yeah. And look, I’m still, again, I’m performance driven for life. Like, that’s just like who I am. But I also see so much value in, in the assets, in the assets for all these other things.
And it can help get more social followers and it can help create engagement in other ways. Like I, I, I’m all for getting the most bang for your buck. Yep, me too. So that’s the message I’m gonna keep touting.
Where do you think the most untapped opportunity is?
Is it YouTube shorts? Like what do you know? Yeah, maybe YouTube shorts. I would actually say, It’s kind of weird, but like, I think, you know, like SMS and text messaging, like more influencers and celebrities are like hopping on that bandwagon. Or like, even for Instagram, you know, you have like the close friends list.
I feel like influencers don’t leverage that enough. Patreon, like things like that or like, Like private Facebook groups. It’s like all these like more community based, the subscription thing. Like, I’m getting every one of our influencers has like a subscription wall now. Yes. And I, and honestly, but like, brands haven’t really figured out how to tap into it, but it’s like, the thing is, those are the most loyal communities or the like, like if I’m gonna join an influencers Facebook group and I’m in many of them personally also like for work, but I also just like, I do care about it and I wanna, I want, I’m a fan.
The people in there are the most loyal and will do anything for that influencer. And so brands should totally start to find a way to leverage those really loyal, tight knit communities. So I feel like, go on that the whole social commerce. Have you done anything with social commerce live streaming where like you’re selling online and like your shopping cart is there. not my, Yeah, no, I don’t, I don’t have a great answer for that unfortunately. It’s, it’s fine. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.
I think no one has a great answer for it. I honestly want to learn more about it. I don’t know enough and I feel like I’m so in the world of like performance driven influencer marketing and that’s probably like, I think gonna huge within it is, you know, it it, that’s why. Yeah, but I, I don’t have like a ton.
I don’t have a good input for that. Yeah, I spent a lot of time researching it and then I was like, I need to take a breather cuz I don’t know. Yeah, it’s tricky. It’s confusing and honestly, there’s so many damn things to research like every single day that I’m like, I cannot keep up. Yeah, it’s, And then you’re like, if something’s working, just stick with what’s working cause.
In your personal opinion, influencer up, influencer down next year?
I think it’s gonna be hard. I, I don’t like saying that it will go down, but I think we’re already seeing that happen where again, like brands are slashing their budgets and they can’t justify spending the way they were.
I think it’s going to only get more challenging next year. Okay. But I’m still hopeful, like things are still working. You know, I look at the numbers all day, every day and it’s, it could always be worse and, you know, like, I think there are things working for every single one of my clients. Not saying that it was like the low hanging fruit that we talked about before.
it’s not gonna be these crazy low rates, but there’s still influencers willing to give out amazing deals and there’s still influencers converting and hitting, you know, at least I could Their targets. Yeah. Whether it’s a CPA target or ROEs, they’re still doing it. So I’m hopeful, but it’s still gonna be really challenging for performance driven.
Name an influencer you love to follow but hate to admit that you do?
Okay. This is my favorite question ever. So like, I never hate to admit that I follow anyone but I, I’ll say my most or the, the most unexpected influencers that I follow, if that’s okay.
Yep. They’re, it’s some good ones. So I love, I’m gonna write them down. Hold on. Go ahead. I like wonder if you follow them. Mountain Rug Cleaning, which is a rug, rug cleaning influencer that I watch for the other night. I spent five hours just watching the sky clean rugs. Okay. It’s, it sounds weird, but like, it’s incredible.
And then I love like, Meat influencers. Like barbecue influencers. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I, yeah, I watched a ton of those. They’re amazing. And like have big personalities. I follow an account called Vintage Broncos. I know these are not like the influencers you were probably looking for. I feel like it’s, No, it’s all fun.
That’s why it’s a great question. , I follow this guy who he like cooks outside in a Serbian forest. Like I follow a few of those too. Outdoor cooking. Outdoor cooking guys are like some of my favorite. Okay. And then finally my, maybe my most controversial is I love the age gap couples on TikTok. Like the ones where it’s like one of them is like 25 and one is like 60.
I’m so agreed I will follow every age gap couple. Oh my God. Awesome. Yeah. Okay. Well thank you for sharing that. I’m definitely, I’m definitely into the camping guys who click outside. I think it’s fa Yeah. And I make my son watch it. They’re so fun. I always wanna buy like the nights that they’re promoting.
I know, I know. But yeah, I bet, I bet that was like the weirdest answer that anyone’s ever given you. I wonder what, like, normally people say if it’s just like, the funniest is when people admit crushes. So like, Oh, and you like, I have a crush on, you know, So. Well, thank you so much.
How could people find you?
Instagram, I guess my LinkedIn and my, Can I get my email? Always open to conversations and I love networking with people in the industry always. So my email is just my name Jolie Jankowitz at gmail.com, but you can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram and anywhere else. I feel like it’s always at Jolie Jankowitz, so, Okay. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.