Sara Hildebrandt of VIMATO tells us about the one-stop platform for micro-influencer marketing.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sara Hildebrandt: We are all healthy and well, thank you. Of course, it is a challenging time, and especially for those with little kids and demanding jobs, it can get very busy. But at the same time, without traveling and visiting customers and partners, you get to spend more time with the family. I try to appreciate that and not only see what is not possible at the moment but embrace the opportunities and possibilities.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined VIMATO.
Sara Hildebrandt: My CV looks a bit chaotic. I studied Japanese but then started in marketing in the flower wholesale business. I moved to sales in order to change the location, and somehow since then, both have been the constant factors in my career: sales and marketing. I moved from the traditional import-export company to several big international tech companies, where I started selling ads, building them, to finally set up international sales and marketing teams. Even if it was a great time with a steep learning curve, I decided I wanted to go for more flexibility and self-determination, and I moved to the startup world. With VIMATO, I found a young startup where one of the founders was looking for his replacement, which became me! Since last summer I am now responsible for marketing and sales. I work closely together with the founders, CFO Florian Brinkmann and CTO Tim Werner.
How does VIMATO innovate?
Sara Hildebrandt: We believe in the power of micro-influencers. The influencer market is growing for years already, and we see how smaller influencers have the possibility to convey a much stronger and more reliable message than more famous macro and mega influencers. VIMATO makes it possible for brands and agencies to look for brand ambassadors really fitting their brand. Thanks to intrinsic motivation and barter deals, they are also extremely cost-effective. VIMATO automates the cooperation with micro-influencers as far as possible. This not only saves time and money but also ensures higher brand awareness and increased sales. Through machine learning, we make the influencer search data-driven and enable brands to find the right fit.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sara Hildebrandt: Especially, in the beginning, we noticed how companies just froze their marketing budget and definitely were not open to trying something new. Finding new clients to sign off new contracts was difficult. In insecure times most of them don’t try out new partners and are afraid of being bound by contracts. But if we look at the market, we see that it is exactly those brands that did put more energy on their social media and influencer marketing campaigns who would profit from people being constantly on their phones and spending so much time at home. It is the perfect moment for social media and influencer marketing.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sara Hildebrandt: We had to wait for our big launch. Our plan was to hire new colleagues to grow the team, but we had to wait with that, too bad as we had some great candidates. Also, we wanted to be present in the media and do ads in 2020, but as we were unsure about our own future, we had to postpone this.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sara Hildebrandt: There are many influencer platforms and even more influencer agencies. What differentiates us is that we are not restricted to a relatively fixed influencer pool but that we can find any influencer of certain niches and topics. Our data-driven approach reveals the ground truth regarding what makes certain influencers align with your brand’s goals and marketing strategy. You need people who match your brand, your products, your campaigns – and who bring the right audience with them. Brand advocates who understand your brand and are perhaps already satisfied customers themselves. Credible, authentic, convincing.
Also, we are not limited to a sector or a country, which makes us an ideal partner for brands with several topics and regions in mind. We will continue listening to the market and our customers to see what they need and how we can deliver it. Our advantage is that we are small and lean. We are able to adapt quickly and can implement necessary changes in a short period.
Your final thoughts?
Sara Hildebrandt: We hope that as many companies as possible come out of this crisis stronger, more flexible, and innovative than before. If in any way possible, we need to use this as a chance for improvement and become better businesses, and not stick our head in the sand and give up. I think exactly in this kind of unusual times, we see which companies take the risk and innovate and which companies are not flexible enough to innovate but stay put; for them, the world changes too fast. We are doing our best to adapt to the new situation and offer our clients what they need at the moment.
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