Fifteen years ago, Cassidy Stockton began her career at Bob’s Red Mill in customer service. Since then, she’s worked her way up into the influencer marketing world. Now she runs the influencer marketing program at Bob’s Red Mill.
With fifteen years under her belt, she’s gained know-how very few players in the industry have had the opportunity to learn. Lucky for us, she was willing to share a few of the lessons.
So relax (or bake something with Bob’s Red Mill flour? Pancakes?) and hit play to learn how she fosters genuine relationships with the influencers she works with and respects their content rights.
- Influencer marketing took off with social media and followed the various platforms.
- Downloadable content like coupons can be used for tracking ROI for products sold in brick-and-mortar locations.
- Bob’s Red Mill is partnering with No Kid Hungry. You can learn more or get involved by visiting BobsRedMill.com/outreach/no-kid-hungry.
- Having a good relationship with your influencer makes all the difference. If it’s not a good fit, then the partnership will not last regardless of influence.
- Know, respect and protect your influencers’ content rights.
Interview with Cassidy Stockton
Perlu: Hello and welcome to the Perlu Podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined, a podcast where we chat with influencer marketing professionals, social media influencers, bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, you name it, about what has led to their success. Today we have the pleasure of hearing from Cassidy Stockton, a digital communications manager at Bob’s Red Mill.
Cassidy is a strong leader with 15 years of experience building and growing a powerful social media presence for one of the nations most beloved flour companies. She has developed a robust influencer marketing program that generates over 44 million impressions yearly. More than anything, she loves building strong relationships that lead to meaningful social media engagement. Cassidy is always looking for the emotional hook in her content for the most lasting impact.
I’m your host, Alexis Trammell. If you enjoy today’s episode, we hope you sign up for Perlu to learn more about how you can grow your influencer marketing career. Thank you so much for joining us today, Cassidy.
Cassidy Stockton: Oh, thank you so much for having me.
Perlu: Would you like to tell us a little bit more about yourself and your role at Bob’s Red Mill?
Cassidy Stockton: Sure. Like you’ve said, I’ve been here for 15 years. I started working pretty low in the customer service area and was able to work up through marketing as I gained more knowledge about the products and got more experience here. We were a much smaller, different company 15 years ago than we are today. At that time, it was kind of a novelty to see our products on the East Coast, and now we’re in most grocery stores across the United States.
What I do now is, as you mentioned, run the influencer marketing program that touches everything from people who are lifestyle influencers on Instagram to recipe developers and content creators who do video and live IGTV pieces. I do really like building relationships with them so that it’s a genuine experience for everybody, whether they’re seeing that on the influencer’s channels or if they’re seeing or sharing that content on our channels.
We also do a lot of our digital marketing through this department. We’re working very closely with the digital marketing manager and managing our email marketing strategy. It’s a cohesive plan that we have at Bob’s Red Mill to make all of the marketing pieces fit together well. You see and have the same experience no matter where you run across us in the marketing world.
Perlu: That’s awesome. Fifteen years at Bob’s Red Mill and you started the entire influencer marketing arm of it. That’s incredible.
How did you first get into influencer marketing? How did you know that was going to be the right fit?
Cassidy Stockton: Well, we’ve always been really scrappy here, so it’s been a lot of experimentation. About 11 or so years ago, we started noticing a lot of bloggers talking about the product on our Google alerts would flag us if somebody mentioned us here or there. I would go over to the blog, engage with that person, usually offer them some product if they wanted it. The game was a lot different back then, so product for mentions was a really normal way to engage with a blogger. Now of course it’s become very monetized, which is fantastic for the influencers. But yeah, it was just a lot of, “Hey, I see you like our product. Can I send you some more?” Then as those relationships grew, we have a little budget and put some of that into it.
As Instagram really took off in the influencer space, it became so valuable. We shifted a lot of resources into that as well. So we do a nice balanced program. There’s a lot of stuff happening on Instagram with influencers there, but then we also have a lot of evergreen content going live on blogs across the web.
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Perlu: How do you go about finding influencers to work with and how did you find them way back when? You said it was 11 years ago when you started doing influencer marketing?
Cassidy Stockton: Yeah. I mean, the way that we’ve looked for influencers back in the day was we noticed we got mentioned, and we started building a relationship. These days it’s a lot more; I get a lot of inbound requests, and we vet all of them, whether it’s going through my team internally or working with one of our PR firms. We look at everybody and we look for people who have really good, solid engagement rates, genuinely love the brand and have used a platform similar to what you guys have to offer. It’s just a really good way to see a measure what somebody is doing because everybody who’s probably listening right now understands the challenge of ROI on influencer work.
Everybody wants to know that the money you’re spending is worth it. You have to try to choose which metrics are the most important to you, and a lot of my relationships these days come through introductions through other partners that I have. It just seems to be we’re in a lucky place, so we’re not usually having to go out and source a lot of influencers. Typically, they come across our plate and we jump on them if they’re the right fit for us.
Perlu: You mentioned how everyone wants to make sure they have the best ROI for these programs and making sure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
I’m really curious about how you guys ended up deciphering that from beginning to end?
Cassidy Stockton: Yeah. With marketing in this space, I think we can all agree that you have to experiment. You have to take a chance these days and try some of this new stuff because everybody’s moving to digital…I mean to say that everybody’s moving feels archaic because everybody’s already moved. Trying to put a measurement around the money that you’re spending, is it worth it, as well as how do I say Person A is worth this value and Person B isn’t?
Typically, what we were doing in the beginning, was going with our gut. What was beautiful content? What was a creative use of the product? Were their fans at that time commenting on the blog? When Pinterest came on board, are they pinning it to the boards? When the social channels got more robust, were they sharing it there?
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As things have scaled and changed in the paid social space, we dig into the engagement metrics that are really important to us. If people are engaging with your content, that tells me that it’s resonating well. We do some other pieces that will try to help tie an ROI back by providing a particular link and how many coupon downloads came from that particular link from that influencer. That helps us get an idea of, well, if this many coupons were downloaded, potentially this many went to the store and made a purchase.
It’s tricky with a product that we prefer people to buy at grocery stores. It’s hard to track sub measurement from social to that, but we do the best we can. Then we look at it and try to make the best choices that we can based on the metrics that come out of the different platforms that are available to us and try to put an ROI on it. I think it varies from company to company and what is the most important metric to you and whether you can tie that to a revenue or not.
Perlu: Thanks, Cassidy. I’d like to take a quick break to talk about Perlu, the platform that all influencer marketing professionals should be using to connect with influencers. It’s not a subscription based directory. It’s a professional network of active influencers ensuring that brands partner with only the best, and you can sign up and try the platform for free today. No commitments, nor obligations. Here’s Brent Scott, Perlu’s director of influencer marketing to tell you a little bit more.
Perlu: Tell us about your most creative or successful influencer marketing program.
Cassidy Stockton: Yeah. We’ve had a few that have been really fun over the last few years. One that I’m particularly passionate about right now is one that we just ran in November to support our partnership with No Kid Hungry. We sourced five different influencers that had a reach within the parenting community but also were interested in changing the world. We found five influencers to create a recipe using one of our products for a brunch-themed Friendsgiving campaign. Friendsgiving, if you’re not familiar is, an alternative to Thanksgiving with your friends, but it’s also a big campaign that No Kid Hungry runs to encourage people to host a Friendsgiving and raise funds to help end childhood hunger.
We’ve partnered in a big way with No Kid Hungry this year. We did five recipe development influencers, and then we worked with about 30 other influencers on Instagram who shared the story of No Kid Hungry and why it was important to them, why it was important to us and why it should be important to everyone else. Each influencer that we worked with created a recipe. It went into a brunch eBook that our fans and email subscribers could download as they geared up to host their own Friendsgiving. The thought would be that you could make or assign all the recipes from that book to have a nice well-rounded brunch and raise funds.
I thought it was really cool to read the stories from each of the influencers talking about their own experiences with childhood hunger. Some of them had dealt with it firsthand and others just remember helping their parents make food bank donations as a kid. It’s a moving piece, and this time of year we’re all looking for ways that we can make a difference. That was one that was particularly fun.
Perlu: That one’s beautiful. I mean, Friendsgiving and brunch – I mean everybody loves Friendsgiving. I know I sure love brunch, but whenever you’re making a positive impact in the world around the holiday season, that’s really powerful. That’s great to hear.
Cassidy Stockton: Yeah. If people want to get involved, they can visit our website. There is a call to action right on the homepage or they can visit BobsRedMill.com/outreach/no-kid-hungry. Also just a Google search of “No Kid Hungry Friendsgiving” will get you there. It’s not too late to sign up. They are accepting people to sign up or just donate through the end of the year, and then we’ll celebrate on our channels how much money were raised through our efforts in January.
It’s been a really cool partnership and I think they are doing a lot of good. In the time we’ve been working with them, they were able to reduce the ratio of kids that are struggling to feed themselves or to be fed from one in six to one in seven now, which is wonderful. They’re making an impact, and I think we can all agree that kids should start off on the right foot with good food in their bellies.
Perlu: Of course. Let’s backtrack a little bit. You’ve been working with influencers for 11 out of the 15 years you’ve been at Bob’s Red Mill. Of course, everything has really evolved over time. You guys have really honed your skills in there, built a lot of relationships.
How does influencer marketing fit into Bob’s Red Mill’s marketing strategy holistically today?
Cassidy Stockton: Yeah. Well, because of the way influencer marketing is and the way that we have shifted as consumers, especially with the younger generations, we really have always been true in marketing – word of mouth marketing works. It works really well and I think we all understand that if your best friend tells you about a product that you love, you’re more inclined to try it out. We’ve made the shift as a country and culture to see influencers online in that similar mindset. We really value that here at Bob’s because we know that if you’re using a baking flour that you love and you recommend it, you’re likely to get your fans to also choose that flour because they aspire to have the same kind of lifestyle as you.
Once we started figuring out those little bits that worked really well, [influencer marekting] just became an essential part of our strategy.
Because now the way that digital marketing has evolved, we can use influencer work and then pick up a lot of different touch points with digital of hitting them on Facebook or getting them in the Google ads or following up with an email advertisement. There’s a lot of opportunity to take that influencer and blast it out in a really cool way, so that they’re getting that repeated message without just hoping that they happen to watch the right channel for the right amount of time on TV.
What I see, and I think you’d probably agree, is now what we’re seeing is influencers with a smaller following are a little bit more intimate, and people find them to be even more engaging than the people with huge followings. Nano influencers – which really at some point is just people like you and me who are influencing our friends.
Perlu: Right, right. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool for sure.
What is one of your biggest lessons learned in influencer marketing that you could share with our listeners?
Cassidy Stockton: There’s a couple of really important things that I’ve learned and incorporated over the years. First and foremost, having a good relationship with your influencer matters. It makes all the difference. If you find that sweet spot with an influencer who loves the brand so much, it really pays off in a lot of different ways. Additionally, you should focus on protecting their rights. I know a lot of companies want the full rights to the content. They would want to reuse it. Our stance is the relationship is most powerful because of your influence and the content is beautiful, but we want it to be first and foremost yours and help us sell our product through it.
I think we’re protecting their creative rights or intellectual rights, I guess, and just respecting them. I think that they often get treated like another marketing tactic, but I also see it on the other side, and I think it’s really difficult when influencers don’t treat themselves like a business or a brand and are unprofessional or miss deadlines or come to you with a request that’s just impossible for you to fulfill. That lesson is if it’s not a good fit, then I’m not going to keep it going regardless of your influence. It has to be a good relationship.
Perlu: Right. That makes complete sense. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Cassidy. We’ve really enjoyed speaking with you.
Cassidy Stockton: Thanks for having me. If anybody wants to see the work that we are doing with influencers, we share a lot of it on our Instagram channel, which is just @BobsRedMill. Check us out there to see what we’re doing.
Perlu: Awesome. Yes, everyone go check out Bob’s Red Mill. They’re also active on Perlu if you want to connect with them there. Thank you so much to everyone listening. We hope you really enjoyed hearing from Cassidy Stockton at Bob’s Red Mill.
If you like our show and are interested in what it takes to succeed in influencer marketing, check out our blog at blog.perlu.com for more podcasts and blog posts, and sign up for Perlu at Perlu.com to meet mingle, connect, collaborate and grow in your career. We hope you join us for our next installation of the Perlu podcast, influencer marketing reimagined.