On this week’s episode of the Performance Delivered Podcast, we talk to Chris Raniere of Lumanu, about influencer marketing. Chris has worked in and alongside both billion-dollar organizations and start-ups in B2B and B2C markets, with roles ranging from Director to CEO.

Chris is a returning guest, so we welcome him back to talk about changes in the influencer marketing landscape, as well as,

  • The friction points for creators and brands
  • The difficulty in connecting creators with brands
  • The future of the creator economy
  • The mission of Lumanu
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.

Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success Podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. And the topic for today’s episode is influencer marketing, here to speak with me is Chris Raniere, who is the SVP of revenue at Lumanu, which is an operating system for the greater economy, simplifying how creators share assets, services and IP to brands. Chris has a broad experience working in and alongside both billion dollar organizations, as well as startups in b2b and b2c markets with roles ranging from director to CEO, Chris actually is a returning guest. He first joined us back in 2018, in Episode Three of the Performance Delivered podcast when we talked about digital marketing trends. A lot has changed since then. So welcome back, Chris.

Chris Raniere: Yeah, thanks for having me. Great. I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Steffen: I know. Right? That’s, that’s good for us. We kept it going for three years.

Chris: Made it through COVID. It’s awesome.

Steffen: Well, I mean, people people had to stay home so it was easy to book people and once once things open up and will be harder to pin down people in in get them potentially to to agree on a time to record this. But, you know, before we explore today’s topic, influencer marketing, why didn’t you tell us a bit about what you have been up to over the last two to three years? And and what led you to Lumanu?

Chris: Yeah, sure. So I think last we talked, I was running large digital agency, with Hearst focusing on some. That was a fantastic experience. And that company is still doing quite well inside of the Hearst organization. I actually took some time and just said, like, what’s the next thing I’m going to do, and trying to look at some more trends are going and I came across Lumanu honestly, just exploring influencer marketing. As you know, I’ve been in pre influencer marketing called blogger world, from the beginning, early 2000s, where we built a brand, our own beauty brand off of a blog. 

And so I was kind of trying to figure out where what I was going to go talk to a bunch of companies, they all seem to be kind of in this marketing technology, which, you know, I’ve been doing that since, I hate to say but since the 90s, and seems commodity, and then I came across a group of companies that were going beyond and focusing in on the influencer and actually taking it to the whole creator, like not necessarily influencer, but creating content, passionate economy, and working on FinTech solutions and data platform solutions. And started actually having a really interesting conversation with the founder of Lumanu Tony Tran and his vision just super excited me of helping creators grow their businesses and simplifying the creator economy, which is really, really chaotic, and your listeners that are in influencer marketing, or hiring influencers, it’s a lot of friction. 

And influencers just want to do what they do best and create brands just want them to create and do their best job to grow their brand. But there’s all this running the business stuff, and helping them the way we help bloggers back when we founded Lumanu really started resonate with me. So Steffen that’s what I’ve been doing for over a year now working with the Lumanu team trying to just simplify the creator economy.

Steffen: Interesting, interesting. Now, obviously, the creator economy has gotten really large. And not only on Instagram, right, but but across YouTube and other channels. Now a lot of companies have been founded and you kind of mentioned that over the years to make things easier for creators and eliminate some of the challenges they face. What are the friction points for brands when it comes to finding and negotiating influencers? And then as a second question, what are the friction points on the other end for for influencers? Working with brands?

Chris: Yeah, I think anybody that’s it’s I’m just gonna call it the most obvious one. And that’s just finding each other. That did the whole discovery process is still a nightmare. And there’s probably hundreds of platforms free and and with bs to try to connect creators with brands, and it’s a lot of work. And I honestly don’t have a good answer for the best solution. We’re working on one, but it’s quite far away. Because a lot of stuff we’re going to do retrain, but that’s a huge friction point. And I think it’s going to take a well established community that’s supported by technology that actually treats both the creator and brand equally, and understands through some type of technology how to match them. And I haven’t seen that done as well yet. So they got the biggest one. I hate bringing up a problem without a solution. But I don’t know of a good solution there yet. 

That’s a pretty big pain point. I think another pain point that people find is getting the actual making sure everything’s fair between the two, the two, two organizations. And when you’re transferring, right, right, which is what you ultimately do with an influencer, an influencer is giving you a right to their personality to their content, and potentially in the case of Instagram, or Facebook giving you right to their audience, right. And being able to manage those permissions, grant those permissions, rescind those permissions, making sure there’s not too many permissions being given all the legality around that, that’s a pretty big friction point. It’s something that Lumanu actually give myself a plug here. But that’s something that Lumanu actually solves. It’s the it’s the only automated system for that on Instagram. And then I think another pain point is the management of the creators, right, like, so you’ve got an influence manager. Now I’ve got to come up with my creative ideas, I want to get new idea creators on board and following my strategy, communicate with them. 

And that’s a real challenge. I think there’s, there’s some great solutions out there that have been built to help that I think of grin does a really good job. I think creator IQ is a big leader in that space as well. And they that that helps, and it helps the creator and the brand talk to each other. Some of the other the other major pain point would we’ve spent a year trying to figure out where the pain points in running businesses for creators, and it’s the payments. And so being able to pay creators, and creators getting paid is sounds like it should be simple, but it’s really not. And if I explain a little bit why that becomes a problem is a lot of brands have vendor solutions, a vendor onboarding, I’ve got to have a contractor and are typically contractors that are used over and over again. And in a larger brand, it can take, you know, four, sometimes six weeks to get somebody into the vendor system. 

When you’re hiring creators for $500, $1000, $2,000. And you’re, you’re hiring hundreds of them. You can’t wait that long, right? And so it costs more to get them into the system that does actually to pay the creator. And on the creator side, I gotta write an invoice, I got to follow up on it. Where is my payment, and then I delivered all my content. I did what I said, we’re going to do you agree that and now I go into a net 30. net 45. You and I both been entrepreneurs to start out like, I’ll have 45 days, my rent’s due today. And so that’s a pretty big pain point that a lot of people working on Lumanu’s working on it. And I think that’s something that you’re going to see evolve over time, I think the payments, payments in the in the creator economy, creator economy is going to disrupt the way payments happen. It’s got to be faster, it’s got to be less complicated. One of the other things is like all the tax paperwork, right? And so like Lumanu set themselves up as a third party service organization, so we can actually take care of the tax work so that brands and and creators don’t have to worry about that. I think that’s that’s a really big friction point that several people, including Lumanu are trying to tackle. 

Steffen: Yeah. Let’s say with the payment pain point. Are there lessons to be learned from from other companies that are also kind of working with huge number of people like the gig economy? Can there be solutions drawn from that? Or does a solution for for for the creator economy needs to be different?

Chris: Good question. The gig economy and the creator economy or I think in some many people’s mind the same thing. But they are different. I think the gig economy is like a one at a time thing. Where as the creator economy, you start to build relationships. So take Uber, right. Some people may have a relationship with an Uber driver, but typically your relationship with the app and the brand, right? As I’m paying through the app, that payment system seems to work quite well. But when I’m dealing with a person, a creator, that needs doing something for me, and I’ve got to do hundreds of them at a time. Like I don’t order 100 Uber rides at one time. Right. And so I don’t I don’t think there’s a I think where you’re going gig economy, I think Uber right away and doordash there’s not a whole lot of parallels is a different type. It’s a different type of model.

Steffen: I see I see. Now, how does Lumanu approach solving the problem that you described? How do you guys try to help creators to create us but also brands to make some more streamlined, more painless process.

Chris: Yes, thanks for asking. So our whole mission is just to simplify the business, through a  creator economy. And so we try to simplify it on both ends. So on the creator side, we recreate a universal platform. So once you come on to the money once for one brand, you now can get paid by any brand never having to enter any more information. Compared to other solutions out there, where they have an accounting solution and brand signs up for county system solution A. and a creator has some sign up for that solution. Another brand has the exact same solution. But in that second brands instance, the creator’s got to sign up again. So we removed that first friction point, like you sign up once, now you can work with any brand through Lumanu. And you’re just going to get the money deposit straight into your bank account. The other issue is you got to submit invoices. And just totally off the internet is probably not the best way to do it. 

And so our app actually guides influencers through the process of creating an invoice that looks the exact same every time it has all the information that the brand would want. And so that that on the creator side now becomes super simple. I just signed my contract. I’ve got I’m getting I’m going to send my invoice to the brand through Lumanu. The brand pays me through Lumanu it shows up on my bank account. The last thing we do for the influencer is the point above earlier, which was I’ve done my work, I fulfilled my contract. Now I’ve got a net 30. And so we actually are providing an early pay solution for creators where we’ll pay within 24 hours of them delivering their service, and then we’ll get the money from the brand, it then becomes our responsibility, but the creator gets paid. So that’s on the creator side, right. So just do your creation will take care of the payments for you.

Steffen: You become a bank basically, so to speak.

Chris: Yeah, yeah. But we’re not, unlike PayPal or so like that we don’t float the money. So. So as soon as it’s, as soon as the work is approved, the money goes directly into ACH, which is direct deposit into the creator’s bank account on our system. And so we set that all up. It’s as easy as Venmoing. Right? Fantastic. On the brand side, there’s a couple of really big main pain points. It’s tax season. So let’s talk about that one. So when you’re hiring hundreds, and for a lot of people, 1000s of creators a year, you’ve now got to have hundreds or let’s say hundreds of W9s, which are then going to turn into 1099s, which or due. That’s a huge headache for any accounting department. And so if a brand uses the Lumanu platform, we actually become the intermediary intermediary. And we take care of all the tax paperwork. So that’s a huge pain point. And one of the major reasons brands are using our payment platform. 

The other big pain point is the procurement process, which I was talking about, especially for really larger brands. Get a vendor on board, big week, right? Can’t do that with a $500 or $1,000 creator, or even $5000, it doesn’t matter and can’t do it with hundreds of people per month, or per quarter. And so it’s Lumanu again, Lumanu is the vendor. And then once you sign up onto the platform, you then give your influencer manager, they’ve got their budget, they can sign up as many creators they want. They have a nice dashboard and says yep, they delivered the content, press pay, and the creator gets paid. There is no onboarding, procurement, there’s no collective W9, there’s no collecting of bank account information, all that goes away. Those are the two biggest pain points for you on a brand side and at the end of the day the big thing we do is create as your happy employees or managers are happy. Everyone’s getting paid. It’s much more seamless. 

Steffen: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Now, one of the pain points you mentioned earlier is that, you know, when you have a lot of creators to manage, it’s not that easy, because there are things like making sure that they fulfill their contract, right. And all the other things that are important to look at, how does the solution for that look like?

Chris: Yeah, so those solutions, I don’t think there’s a perfect solution for that just yet. A lot of those solutions are people, agencies, agencies, influencers, you make a lot of money right now for good reason. Because there’s a lot of work to be done and managing those people. I think, various solutions from the marketing technology solution to even Lumanu right one of the things we’re building out is a way for a repository for all your assets and a place to download and upload different assets and check off that they’ve actually been delivered. Right and that quickly gets tied to payments. But right now, quite honestly, Steffen your listeners don’t want to hear this answer, but it’s people. And there are some CRM type solutions out there. But there’s not I don’t think there’s any like magic bullet just yet. We’re going to try to build one. But there’s not one just yet.

Steffen: That makes sense. Now, earlier, they also mentioned that one part is discovery as a pain point, and you had said, you know, there, there is no solution there. Why is it from your perspective, so difficult to to discover people, and I mean, more than a solution, like a, like a database, where every creator kind of signs up to be the easiest way to solve the problem?

Chris: Sure, there’s roughly 50 million of them out there. And if you did it, right, you’d have to category categorize each one in that same way. And then you’d want them to actually provide who they really are versus scraping a lot of technologies are just scraping there. Yeah, you can do follower account, right? But at the end of the day, a really good influencer campaign comes from the passion that influencer has for your vertical and your brand. And so you’ve you’ve got to investigate and literally understand each influencer and you know, get a pitch from them. Like some of the best influencers, put a whole portfolio deck together that here’s the kind of things I do, here’s why I love your brand, I actually use it, here’s some pictures, I think you got to make sure that they do quality things, right. And so just a database, the simple database solution doesn’t work, right, it’s a good it’s not a bad place to start. But then you’ve got to do the elbow grease. 

Now, I think there’s a world where there is a much more robust data set, where creators are constantly uploading their, their creation to one place, from multiple platforms. So from tik tok the Instagram to Pinterest, right, but all the stuff they’re doing is going through one place. And the the engagement they’re getting there. And then they’re also able to add their own personal touch of like, here’s what I like about like, outside my Instagram feed or outside my tik tok videos, here’s kind of what my day in life is, here’s what I really like doing. here’s, here’s what, here’s what I’m passionate about outside of this, here’s the top type type of brands. And I think there’s also an opportunity for same platform for brands to be able to say, here’s the type of people we think represent our brand. And here’s the kind of things we’ve liked in the past, and have it all in one place, and then have some type of robust technology that kind of helps match and does like a true like, matching system. It’s, it’s what Lumanu is working on. But it’s it’s a while away. It’s not top of the list right now.

Steffen: So for people that are not so familiar with, you know, influencer marketing site, how do companies go about finding influences that fit their brand these days?

Chris: A lot of work. So I think a lot of them do what you say they start with a database, like, you know, Facebook has a free version, folks, every one of the influencer marketing software platforms have some type of discovery tool, some of them are closed. So they all start there, right, whether it’s open and scrape, so they have everybody and you just get data or there’s other ones that are opt in. So the influencers actually put in there some of the personal stuff that we’ll talk about, but then you’re in a, you’re only in that small box of environment of influencers. I know some agencies, that village, for example, like uses that, but they also do there, they just do their own leg work. 

They get on they’re on Instagram nonstop, and they talk to a brand and say they get to know that brand. And then they work with that brand manager to find the influencers that really seem to resonate with them. So a lot of like, work there. And then it’s outreach to right. And the flip side, the influence the influencers, the ones that are making a real business out of it, they put their pitch together and they’re doing like everybody else is they’re cold calling, they’re prospecting, emails, directors, DMs, and then the match is made. Kind of chaotic.

Steffen: Yeah, yeah. Sounds like it. I mean, it’s it basically sounds like like, normal business development process that we do here as an agency, right? You go out, you identify which companies you would fit quite well with, you know, and which companies you could help and then you, you start talking to them and then trying to convince them or that you would be a good fit for whatever solution you’re selling at the end of the day.

Chris: Yeah, exactly. Right. I mean, we have, we have a whole advisory board of creators that we talk to a lot of time and every single one of them has their own pitch deck and they’ve got their own subject lines. They tested on email And with DMs right? And they’re doing they’re really spiffy what they’re doing just like you and I do, right AB testing which one works? Which one resonated? 

Steffen: Exactly. Yeah, that’s always the question of whether you kind of be in play in a niche or whether you try to kill all, or not kill is the wrong word, excuse me, but you approach everyone. Right. And you’re not really focused. I mean, that’s also from an agency perspective, always the question, should you go into a niche where you think we really got a solution for that niche? Or are you playing the entire field so to speak.

Chris: Yeah, totally. And I think marketing, I mean, look, this is where agencies earn their money, right? You come to an agency and because you know, especially one that focuses on influencer marketing, they’ve been doing this, this is all they do. And they’ve done it for 100 other brands, so they’re 100 times better than me, my own little brand marketer wants to figure out my influencer marketing strategy. So the best place to start is with I believe, you really got to go in, like after you’ve done your little dabbling, and go, okay, I understand what influencer marketing is, it seems like it’s gonna work now. Get it, I think he should go to an agency to get at least kickstart. Right? Because finding those influencers and negotiating their contracts is tough.

Steffen: Yeah, yeah. And I think in those cases, going to a specialized agency, so specialist, influencer marketing agency is probably better than going to an agency that air quotes just does it as part of the overall service offering.

Chris: Yeah, I mean, like, Village out in New York is, that’s all they do, right. And Valassis has a very large consumer group, but they have an internal they have an agency that’s open to everybody, a lot of CPG company companies use their Valassis’ influencer marketing group, yeah, that’s a good place to start, right? And then you figure out, you know, back in the days and search, Steffen, or you outsource all that, because you had no idea how to do it. That’s where you, like one of my first companies with a search engine marketing company when it was like, I don’t know how they do it. But just so they keep doing it was one of our clients favorite quote. But then as as time evolved, everyone realized that this is super important. I gotta bring this in house.

Steffen: Yeah. No, that’s, that’s a good point. Now, looking into the future, what does the future hold for the creator economy? I mean, it sounds like if someone can come up with a way to aggregate all the creators out there have a platform that not only is just, you know, holds scraped information, but actually information, maybe even pitch decks and everything else for everyone. That will be one thing that that could certainly help the dis space.

Chris: Yes, the creator economies is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. And so creator, the word creator’s used over influencer, I think, right? And rightly, so, I mean, just one other. I mean, musicians are creators, right? Photographers, are creators and all these platforms, there’s no longer no top 1% like the number one, there’s five great celebrity photographers, and that’s all there is that’s no longer true, right? There’s tons of them, and they have ways of getting their art and their craft out there through the social platforms, right. And as you get further into the currency, and you start looking at things like NFTs right? People start doing their creative work. And there’s a blockchain attached to it, as a picture was taken 10 years ago, and then somebody shows up on a billboard. That creator is now making money off of that billboard 10 years on, that’s 10 times 10 times is worth worth 10 times the amount of money right? 

And so I think we’re gonna see a really big shift. I mean, this is not crazy time in blockchain, right. But in the creator economy, I think blockchain is going to be a big piece of and I think also the monetary system is going to start getting blown up the credit cards, owning like Visa, MasterCard, own everything, right? They they own infrastructure, like we have payments, everybody payments, he sees new credit cards come up at the bottom corner says Visa and they’re taking their 2.5, 5%. China destroyed that, right like America’s got that’s got to happen to our economy. So it’s just too old, too antiquated. And I think the creator economy because there’s so much money passing and so many microtransactions it’s, it’s going to help disrupt that faster. I think we will see it disrupted in the next five years. 

Steffen: Interesting. Well, Chris, unfortunately, we already came to the end of today’s podcast recording. Again, thank you so much for joining me again on the Performance Delivered Podcast. And in sharing your thoughts on on some of the challenges the creator economy is facing and and providing some feedback on you know how to overcome them, talking a little bit about Lumanu. If people want to find out more about you and Lumanu, how can they get in touch?

Chris: Email is the best way. It’s just Chris.Raniere@Lumanu.com or you can visit the website lumanu.com which is l u m a n u.com

Steffen: Perfect, and we’ll put that in the show notes too. Thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter @symphonicHQ. Thanks again and see you next time.

Voiceover: Performance Delivered is sponsored by Symphonic Digital. Discover audience focused and data driven digital marketing solutions for small and medium businesses at symphonicdigital.com