Discover the secrets to successful influencer marketing in our latest Art of Sway podcast episode featuring guest expert Katie Stoller, author of the acclaimed “Influencer Insider Guide.” Join host Danielle Wiley as she and Katie delve into the world of influencer marketing resources, uncovering valuable insights, practical strategies, and inspiring stories to help you leverage the power of influencers for your brand.
Expect to gain valuable perspective on the evolution of influencer marketing, the challenges faced by small businesses, and the importance of building genuine relationships with influencers. We also cover how to create a social media-friendly business that attracts influencers and enhances brand visibility — plus, you won’t want to miss our fun/spicy discussion about the latest BookTok trends coming across our feeds.
In this episode, you’ll:
- Learn about Katie Stoller’s years of marketing expertise and her “Influencer Insider Guide”
- Explore the evolution of influencer marketing, from organic content creation to data-driven strategies
- Discover the challenges faced by small businesses and individuals when engaging with influencers (and how to deal with them)
- Gain insights on starting influencer partnerships and the importance of building genuine relationships
- Learn the downsides of the all-too-common “spray-and-pray method where you’re just blasting millions of influencers or influencers blasting millions of brands”
- Hear about Katie’s passion for activism and the impact it has on her life
- Explore the power of podcasts and their influence on personal interests, such as podcast swag and book recommendations from BookTok
For an exclusive discount on Katie’s guide to influencer marketing, visit InfluencerInsiderGuide.Com and enter the code “SWAY” at checkout.
Learn About March Fourth: Katie Stoller is an active volunteer in the March Fourth movement, a grassroots organization advocating for a federal ban on assault weapons. Visit March Fourth to learn more or donate.
Episode 38: Katie Stoller
Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway, the podcast that uncovers the power of influence and its impact on all areas of our lives. I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week we’ll explore the many facets of influence through candid conversations with industry insiders, from brand marketers to social workers, educators, leaders, and more. Let’s dive in.
Danielle Wiley: Katie Stoller is an influencer marketing veteran. She began her career in 2009 in Los Angeles, working in fashion PR, dressing A-list celebrities, and working celebrity gifting suites at award shows. After L.A., Katie moved home to Chicago where she had a decade-long career working at top global PR agencies Ogilvy, Ketchum, and Golin. She then led the influencer marketing team at Fiat Growth, a FinTech growth consultancy, working closely with affiliate and performance marketing teams. In the last year, Katie has transitioned to being an independent marketing consultant for businesses and talent. She also launched her education company, influencerinsiderguide.com, where she puts out valuable resources for those in the influencer marketing industry. Katie is an active volunteer for March Fourth, We March Fourth, F-O-U-R-T-H dot org, a gun violence prevention advocacy group where she sits on the marketing team. Katie is a member and mentor with the Women & Influencer Marketing Networking Group, as well as a mentor for DePaul University students. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a feisty Japanese Chin.
Danielle Wiley: It’s always great to talk to another Chicago agency veteran. Katie and I never worked together directly, but we definitely ran in the same circles, and had many of the same experiences working in the Chicago PR world as influencer began its epic growth. Katie is now an independent consultant doing some really interesting work. I think many listeners will be especially intrigued by her new educational resource, the Influencer Insider Guide. Enjoy.
Danielle Wiley: Well, hi. It’s so great to have you on and meet you live. I feel like we intersect with each other on LinkedIn all the time, and I don’t know that we’ve ever connected one-on-one, so this is awesome. Thank you for reaching out and agreeing to come on the podcast.
Katie Stoller: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to chat.
Danielle Wiley: Yes. So I wanted to start and just talk a little bit about your career journey, because, I mean, to me, it’s interesting because it’s like mine, which sounds very self-serving, but it’s similar to mine in that you were in Chicago working at big PR firms, working in influencer at those big PR firms, and then left and decided to kind of go on a different path. So I’d just kind of love to hear a bit more about that journey and what your path is now and why you decided to, just the whole spiel, I guess.
Katie Stoller: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the bulk of my career was in Chicago, a big PR agency, so all of that is true, but it starts back a little bit before that. I graduated in 2008 from the University of Illinois. Worst recession. Honestly, it’s very similar vibes to what we’re going through right now, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There were no jobs, no one was getting internships. It was just very bleak and I always knew I wanted to at some point live in California, so I just got on a plane and moved to California and it was out there that I kept saying I wanted to do PR, but I didn’t even really know what that meant, and out in California, it’s very different than what it is here. But I ended up getting an amazing internship at a fashion boutique agency and working with pretty much primarily just celebrities. Our entire goal was getting clothes on celebrities.
Danielle Wiley: Fun.
Katie Stoller: Which is so eerie thinking about that now because it was exactly what we’re doing now with influencer marketing. But we didn’t know what we were doing. We were just doing traditional PR, sending them clothes, trying to get them photographed by paparazzi, and then they’d get in People and US Weekly and all the paparazzi type of magazines, so I really think that that shaped kind of the rest of my career. Obviously, at the time I didn’t realize, but did that for around six months, ended up moving back to Chicago, and then doing the agency thing for 10 years. I knew pretty early on in my PR career that pitching media was not the vibe. That was not what I was good at.
Danielle Wiley: I feel like there’s so few people at those big PR agencies who actually do do that. I mean, Edelman is so big, and I was there for a long time and I know three people there who were doing that and doing it well. I think that’s what people think of when they think of PR, but the reality is, is there’s so much more involved and that’s so specialized and so difficult and just not where most of us end up spending our time.
Katie Stoller: Totally, and I’m glad I sort of had… When you’re a junior, I mean, I was an intern when I started. When you’re junior, everyone’s doing media because again, it’s only the very specialized few kind of grow with that in their career. But in the beginning, everyone’s just on calls all day. I mean, this was back in 2012, so we emailed, but a lot of it was just picking up the phone and getting hung up on and having people not answer. But I’m kind of glad I went through that because there is some similarity with pitching brands now when I work with my influencer clients and just having that understanding of the sales part of all of it and the cold outreach to people and being comfortable. It’s a very pillar kind of part of our industry, so I’m glad I did it, but I knew very early on that the media side was not what I was going to be good at, and I figured out fairly early 2015, 2016 that I loved the concept of working with real people to tell these stories, and that’s when everything was blossoming.
Danielle Wiley: I mean, again, similar. We’ll just make it all about me. Similar to me, it sounds like you were pitching influencer programs to clients before they were asking for.. I mean, now obviously influencer is a part of pretty much every marketing campaign and it’s expected to be in there. The question of who owns that, whether it’s PR or another agency, is a whole other conversation, but now it’s just kind of understood that that’s included in the overall mix. But it sounds like back when you first started doing it, that wasn’t always the case. What did that feel like and what made you so sure that this made sense?
Katie Stoller: So this is actually my favorite story, but I was working on Whirlpool at the time at Ogilvy, and one of the Whirlpool sub-products or whatever was Gladiator, and for people that don’t know, it’s the really cool garages. If you know any rich people with huge garages that are completely done amazing, it’s probably Gladiator product. There’s that.
Danielle Wiley: I’m just thinking, “Let my husband not ever hear.”
Katie Stoller: Yes, and I want to do my garage so bad, but it’s very expensive. But they do those… It kind of looks… What’s that word? It’s like a pattern, but a toolbox kind of pattern.
Danielle Wiley: Oh, yeah, like the raised metal.
Katie Stoller: Yes, yes, exactly. They do the floor tiles, they have a refrigerator, they have a couple of appliances, but then it’s mostly the hanging shelves and it’s these metal bars, like slats, and you can adjust for your skis or your bike, whatever, so it’s a cool product, and we were getting decent hits, but how many reporters can talk about that, a consumer product? One of my coworkers who was actually amazing at media relations got this big spread in New York Times, and from there we were like, “What else are we going to get? You can only get so much press.”
Katie Stoller: So we were in one of these strategy sessions. I was an SAE at the time, not super senior, and I said to my boss, I’m like, “My sorority sister who has this blog that I read every day,” this is back when you weren’t necessarily following everyone on Instagram, but you were actually going to your friend’s blogs and reading them, and I’m like, “I think she’s moving in a week or two. What if we send her some Gladiator stuff?” And he’s like, “I don’t know.” He kind of was like, “Okay, I don’t really know what you’re talking about, but okay.”
Katie Stoller: So I messaged her and I was like, “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me from Gamma Phi Beta, blah, blah, blah, but I love your blog and I saw that you’re moving and I work with Gladiator. We would love to completely redo your garage,” and she responded and was like, “Huh?” She was like, “You’re asking to send me an entire outdone garage for free?” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m, I don’t know how much I can get you, but I’ll get you as much as I can,” and she was like, “Yes.” She’s like, “I will do whatever you guys want. Yes.” So I went back to my boss and we went back to the client and I think they agreed on $6,500 worth of product, which for how expensive this stuff is was maybe half of the garage. It wasn’t a full thing, but it was enough to take beautiful pictures, so we got it going. I set up shipment. Me and her dad were on the phone because he was setting it up. I was walking him through how it works. It was so scrappy.
Katie Stoller: And the next day after we sent it, she sends us hundreds of high-resolution pictures. Gorgeous. I mean, it looked like it was out of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. She just had this beautiful photography style and I sent it to my client and they’re like, “What? What is this?” Everyone was just so confused. And I was like, “This is the future people. This is real people who actually want these real products using it in their real house.” This was the first time that any of us had seen this happen that wasn’t a celebrity. I had done this with celebrities, gotten them product and gotten them photographed, but I’d never done it with just a girl that only had 20,000 unique monthly readers or whatever.
Danielle Wiley: That was going to be my question, from your client’s perspective, was there any questioning of how many readers she had in wanting to see metrics? Everyone’s heard me talk about this a hundred times before, but PR metrics are so fuzzy and there’s so much wink, wink going on like, “Yeah, sure. This got X million impressions,” and we know we were multiplied everything by three for really no reason whatsoever. It’s all just totally sketchy.
Katie Stoller: Arbitrary, yeah.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. But were they questioning that piece of it at all?
Katie Stoller: I think it was just the unique monthlies was all they cared about and I think she had around 20,000, which is a lot for just a random person’s blog that wasn’t part of a network or anything and I think she probably had an Instagram at this point, but it wasn’t something that we were monetizing. We weren’t paying her to put it on there. I think she might have just put it on there, I don’t remember. But I think that was just the metric was like, “Does she have enough monthly readers to make this make sense?” And I do remember in the recap of it all, it was we were adding it as a line item, the same with the New York Times. The metrics in PR are just a mess and it’s funny because you were saying you multiply by three. Some agencies, they all have their own way of adding multipliers and it’s all for different reasons. And it’s just like… I don’t know, it is just so kind of messy.
Katie Stoller: But yeah, it wasn’t really their priority because their priority, I think they saw the value of how much essentially free content we got ’cause if they were to get all of that beautiful content shot by a SAG photographer with SAG actors, it would’ve been a production. We would’ve had to hire makeup artists and have a production studio and she just did it in her garage and just sent us the file, so I think that was more kind of what everyone was impressed with, and at that point, I was hooked. I was like, “This is the future and this is what I want to do.”
Danielle Wiley: And it sounds like you guys got free use carte blanche of all of that amazing, gorgeous content, which would never happen now.
Katie Stoller: Never. I don’t even think we signed a contract. I think it was 100% a handshake deal, which obviously, I would never condone these days, but she was just like, “I will do this for you if you send me this stuff,” and I was like, “The stuff’s on the way.” It was that simple.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I mean, I’m thinking of so many changes from how that was to how things are now, but from your perspective, what are some of the biggest …? What’s different now? I mean, it’s kind of a silly question ’cause everything, what’s not different now? But what are some of the big changes that you’ve seen from that to where you’re at now?
Katie Stoller: I feel like from that point in my career until like 2020, I guess, I don’t know if that’s the exact moment, but there was this glory day of influencer marketing where brands were just so impressed to see what average Joes on the street could come up with and there was this sense of, even just the brand, it didn’t have to be the founder of the company or the person that invented the product, but just the brand managers just had this sense of pride watching everyday people interpret a brief and creating content. It was the old days of everything being scripted and everything, it was a guy, the Mad Men style, where a bunch of people in a room were coming up with concepts, everything now was just coming out of people’s brains and being interpreted in different ways and there was so much diversity and variety and there was a pride to that when you worked on a brand ’cause you were like, “I love seeing my brand being interpreted in all these fun ways.”
Katie Stoller: And then around the 2020/2021 era, I feel like there was this boom during COVID. ‘Cause we were all sitting on our computers all day long, something changed, and brands were kind of like, “Okay, we get it. Influencers are everywhere and they’re really good at creating content and we have all this beautiful content, but now what?” And now we’re what era to the extreme of where’s the conversion? Where’s the data? What am I getting out of this? Every single cent I’m putting into this influencer needs to come out at the end and I get frustrated because I was living in the glory days of, “But the content’s so beautiful and the comments are amazing and people are sharing and liking and engaging,” and the brands are coming back and being like, “So what? I don’t care about that anymore.”
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot that’s been frustrating to me for a long time just in terms of the double standard and what’s acceptable in PR or what’s acceptable in traditional media and our CRO comes from a TV background and she’s selling TV commercials based on how many eyeballs are watching the show. They’re not watching the commercials. It’s so fuzzy when it comes to traditional media, and even going back before 2020, there’s always been this higher expectation from social media I feel like because we did have real numbers. You can see exactly how many eyeballs. You can see exactly how many clicks.
Danielle Wiley: I think for me, what changed in 2020 was this sudden expectation that influencer was lower down the funnel than maybe it is, at least for the vast majority of creators out there, just this expectation that I think because of just the growth of D2C and the fact that everyone was buying stuff online because they had to, there was this assumption that influencer was the way to that and that an influencer campaign was only successful if it led to a certain amount of purchases.
Katie Stoller: That’s a good point. I feel like 2020 was the shift and it wasn’t because someone cracked the code on influencer, I think it was just necessity. That was the only way to purchase so they were seeing the ROI doing amazing. They were putting 5K in for an influencer and actually seeing that return in a week or two weeks and 2021 started, things were opening up, people were going to restaurants, people were going to stores. 2022 came and the world really opened up and we were almost back to normal and here we are in 2023 and you’re not getting anything out of paying 5,000. I mean, chances of putting 5,000 in and getting that back out quickly is just not happening anymore, so it was, I think, very much this mind shift because of necessity that maybe we haven’t come back, the pendulum hasn’t swung back to the brand awareness, I think it started in.
Danielle Wiley: And so jumping back to your career, I feel like we got sidetracked by thinking of all our lovely memories of influencer times gone by, but what precipitated your move out of the big PR agency world?
Katie Stoller: So yeah, more recently, I was at Ogilvy for five-ish years, Ketchum for four-ish years, and then went over to Golin, which great agency, they have so many creative people, and I worked on really cool things. I was there for six months and I had every intention of staying. I never really saw myself being at a big agency. I didn’t see running an agency or being super, super at the top. I’m much more of an entrepreneurial type of person, always have been, so it wasn’t that surprising.
Katie Stoller: But I got an offer that kind of just fell in my lap from Fiat, which is where I spent the last year and a half, and it was with a growth marketing consultancy, so very different than anything I had done. I didn’t even really honestly know what growth marketing encompassed at the time and they wanted to bring influencer in to help just pad up what they did with the affiliate work that they were doing and the performance work that they were doing and they just kept getting asked about influencers because in the growth world, they’re just looking for anything that can help user acquisition and sales.
Katie Stoller: So I went in kind of being like, “I don’t know about this, but we’ll see how it goes,” and we did some really great work together. But at the end of the day, quick conversion, which is what growth marketing is all about, it’s fast and steady growth is not really how influencer works, and this is also coinciding with exactly what we just talked about, the 2021/2022 kind of world opening up. And most of our clients were app-based and rewards-based, so we did some really great educational content about how the apps worked, why you should incorporate this iPhone or Apple Watch thing into your workout routine, kind of educational based about what the products did, but we just weren’t seeing a ton of that kind of more instantaneous growth.
Katie Stoller: So towards the end of my time there, we ended up moving me from being on this island of my own influencer world to being more on the creative team and we really doubled down on UGC as this UGC term blew up in the last year. So what I was doing was working with the creative team on basically supplying them with produced video content from influencers, so instead of the worrying about distribution, distribution’s out the window at this point, I would just find content creators, even actor types that would create content that followed the brief. I would coach them the same way I would coach an influencer on brand messaging and all of that and then we would own the content rights, we would purchase the video content rights and then it would get run through ads on the performance side and that actually did pretty well because influencer content on performance tends to always do better than branded ads. But we just had a little bit of an issue, I guess, and not to be negative, but just scaling that and making it make sense, so I ended up leaving Fiat in February.
Katie Stoller: And this is kind of another long story, but I’ll try to make it short. But I had always been responsible at the last, not four or five, but the last couple of places that I’d worked, Golin, I think maybe a little bit at Kechum, and then definitely at Fiat of spearheading the playbook of influencer. I’d always been on the team that was working on it. At Fiat, I was the only person working on it. And I had written this playbook now three or four times how to do influencer, really formalizing the process, and I one night woke up and I’m like, “Why am I doing this for other people?” This is all coming from information that nobody else has because nobody else has been doing it as long as me in my world and I’m like, “I need to make this mine. I need to own this. This is mind-share from my brain that I keep giving to everyone that I work with and it’s mine. It’s my experience.”
Katie Stoller: So I started writing a book. I just, out of the blue, just started writing a book in Google Sheets and when I left Fiat, I was like, “Why not?” That was the perfect time to make this into something, so I finished it, I formalized it, I updated it, I added in templates, and a really extensive glossary and turned it into basically an ebook. I call it a guide, but it’s really an ebook, and I built a website and built a company. It’s influencerinsiderguide.com and the purpose of it was, number one, just to get it out of my brain and on to something that I could share.
Katie Stoller: But number two, it’s because as we’re getting more deep into conversion and all and how the algorithms work and all the current stuff, influencer marketing, I don’t want to forget where we started. I don’t want to forget how to build the relationships, how to engage the right influencers, how to find your target audience, all the basics that you and I really understand from working in PR, I don’t want that to just become a thing of the past, so it’s my way of uncovering how the brands look at influencer marketing in a very strategic, informal way and putting it in a guide that’s very easy to follow, and it is verbalized in a way that I speak. It’s very conversational. It’s not scary. It’s making sure that you know that all of this stuff is very scalable and anyone can do it. If you are a lawyer, if you’re a doctor, if you’re a mechanic and you want to work with influencers, there’s a way to do it and you can start small and that was the point of putting it all together.
Danielle Wiley: And so is that the target audience for this book is more smaller kind of regionalized small businesses?
Katie Stoller: Yeah, I think the initial, so I have a sample client or a sample target person that would be reading it in the book and it’s Rose Artisan Soap Shop. I just made it up, but it’s a West Loop Chicago-based cool soap store, so that was who I was thinking as I wrote it. But as I started writing it and as it’s now been out and seeing who’s who it’s resonating with, the audiences are really founders and marketing executives of small to medium-sized businesses.
Katie Stoller: And then there’s also a market for students. I think that was also kind of in my head is people that are just graduating or in college or maybe going to grad school and are like, “I want to get into this field, but how does this all work?” So there’s definitely a student kind of play there.
Katie Stoller: And then also potentially, I’m exploring, this is all still very new, but exploring sort of a B2B with education for bigger businesses, whether that’s me as me myself coming and teaching it or if it’s turning it into more of a training manual type of thing. I also do business consults and some of my clients are agencies. They’re advertising agencies that do more traditional advertising or PR agencies that don’t have an influencer arm and they love this because they don’t want to hire a bunch of full-time people. They’re not necessarily doing it all the time, so it’s more of an easy way to piecemeal having this department when they need it.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I could see it being appreciated because one of the things, some of our best clients are those smaller type of agencies who just, they’re not going to launch their whole, they’re not going to launch an influencer arm. They’re not going to create a whole new division, but their clients trust them. Their clients love working with them, their clients are asking for influencer, and so we come in either white labeled, gray labeled, I like to say, or sometimes being fully open that, “Hey, we’re partnering with them.”
Danielle Wiley: But because it’s difficult, I think, and I’m curious as to how the guide addresses this, but the person who’s great at recruitment is not necessarily going to be the person who’s great at briefing the influencer or doing the analytics, and so I think that is the most overwhelming piece of influencer for a small business, or whether it’s brand, or agency, is that it’s not as simple as finding someone who loves influencer on your team and asking them to do it on the side or bringing in a single person to do the whole thing because there’s so many pieces and parts of it and it can be very difficult to be good at all of them, so I can see where having a guide is helpful because there might be some areas where you’re like, “Okay, this I got. This I understand and this part, wow, this is tricky for me.”
Katie Stoller: Yeah, totally. It’s meant to be sort of a 101 of everything, and again, it’s very not scary. You can do this. I think a lot of people come into it and they’re like, “I understand how to find people on social media and message them. That’s not a rocket science concept. You find someone that likes your product. You say, ‘Hey, do you want some of this?'” Some of the basics are very… Some people don’t know that. Some people are like, “You can just message them?” Some people come in truly unsure of how the whole thing works.
Katie Stoller: But some people do come in, like I’m working with a girl now that has a clothing store. She talks to influencers all day long. They’re messaging her about the stuff that they wear and stuff, but then she’s like, “What’s next?” Now that I’ve made that connection, then you can go to the section of the guide that’s about negotiation and discuss how you start having the conversation about money, what usage looks like. If you’re going to add an exclusivity, what that looks like and go deeper. It’s definitely not a guide for someone that’s been doing this for years and years and years and wants to up the ante. This is basic stuff.
Katie Stoller: But one of the main things that I’m trying to get across is that if you have a soap store, let’s just use my little example, and all you want to do is engage with an influencer, put a list of five influencers that you want to work with together and just send them soap. That’s the basics of influencer marketing. It does not have to be complicated. Just send them some soap, handwrite a note and that you really love their content and you’d love for them to try it, no strings attached, and just see what comes back. You might get social posts, you might get them reaching back out and saying, “I want to work with you.” You might have them say, “Come do a popup with me.” It’s relationships. That’s all this industry is, so start with that, I mean, and that’s free. That’s just the cost of postage.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I think it’s so easy being so in this for so many years, as you and I both have, I think it’s easy for us to forget how it can seem overwhelming and complicated when you’re in it every day. My best friend is an acupuncturist in L.A. and she would love to have influencers talking about her and I’m the worst best friend ever ’cause I’m like, “Stop asking me this question.” But she’s like, “I went to this class and I heard I should use Fiverr,” and I was like, “You are not finding influencers on Fiverr. What are you talking about?” So I think I definitely feel like there’s a lot of small business owners who are just completely overwhelmed and don’t know where to start and are getting bad advice and are taking advice from wherever they can get it without knowing whether it’s a trusted source, so it’s nice to know that someone who actually knows what they’re doing and is not going to suggest finding influencers on Fiverr, so they’re giving advice.
Katie Stoller: Right. Oh, totally. It’s hard when it’s your own business, too, for founders. In the same way that we’re an influencer every day, they’re in their clothing store, their coffee shop every day, and there’s a little bit of, not imposter syndrome, but there’s that insecurity of, “Does anyone want to talk about me?” And my message to them is, “Go find them. Just start conversations.” If there’s a girl that you see sitting at your coffee shop every day on her computer, see if she’ll take a picture and post it. It can start that organic and it should. In my opinion, that’s how it should start. It shouldn’t be the spray-and-pray method where you’re just blasting millions of influencers or influencers blasting millions of brands. That is the most inefficient way to go about partnerships. It really should start from a real place and anyone can do it and any industry where you want to get your name out there should be doing these things. This is the way that we’re marketing these days.
Danielle Wiley: And for someone who is starting a business, so maybe it’s not there yet, but one of the things I’ve seen that’s super interesting, like I have a friend in Nashville who opened a coffee shop last year, and this coffee shop is tailor-made for TikTok. Everything about this coffee shop is made for TikTok. There’s a mirror that you can write messages on and take a picture in front of and she built the whole thing from scratch and the grout is hot pink and the drinks have glitter.
Katie Stoller: Oh, my god.
Danielle Wiley: Everything about it is just made… And she just did it because she just wanted to be fun, and that’s what she wanted to do. But I think because she’s young, it’s just how her brain worked, so what advice would you give for someone just starting a business now? It seems to me that you’re missing something if you don’t include elements in it that make your business social media and influencer-friendly and appealing to people who want to document their time in your store interacting with your brand.
Katie Stoller: Yeah, and then having a home base, too, you’re already ahead of the game because so much is e-comm these days, so the fact that she has an actual physical spot that she can be hosting popups, she can be hosting influencer meetups, she should be doing all this stuff. She should have people like me come in and speak to influencers on content or… There’s so much opportunity of just bringing people in, and then I’m sure, because it’s already this beautiful environment that people are probably putting on TikTok every day, she should be scouring TikTok for the keywords. Whatever people are tagging, there should be hashtags everywhere so that she can easily track.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, she did the coolest thing this weekend ’cause she’s in Nashville and Taylor Swift was just in Nashville over the weekend and she polled her followers on social media, came up with special drinks for the weekend, did this whole Taylor Swift thing, and there was a line. I mean, they were nonstop for six hours, a line wrapped around the entire… She was just like, my kid’s nanny is how I know her, and I was like, “This is so awesome.”
Katie Stoller: Oh, my God, you’re making me want to take a trip to Nashville and go see this place. But yeah, I mean there’s so much opportunity and she’s a perfect example of someone that doesn’t necessarily need to go out and figure out how to find her target. Her target is telling her every day that they’re her target. It’s so obvious. So finding the people that have the bigger followings, engaging with them. I mean, she’s probably got such an in-demand product that she could just offer probably free coffee per week or something and get some sort of contract.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, she’s actually against all of that stuff. It’s very interesting. Some of it’s kind of a Gen Z thing. If you take pictures in her shop without asking permission to sell, she gets very upset. Not to promote her, but she doesn’t want to be the location for your influencer photo shoot if it’s not about her coffee shop if that makes sense.
Katie Stoller: Interesting.
Danielle Wiley: She has a lot of rules and expectations and it’s just been very interesting to watch from afar.
Katie Stoller: Interesting, yeah.
Danielle Wiley: It’s not hurting her in any way, but yeah.
Katie Stoller: She’s luring you in and then putting rules on the table, but it seems like it’s working, so good for her.
Danielle Wiley: So switching gears completely, I just wanted to talk a little bit.. so I know that you’re in Highland Park, and there obviously was a terrible tragedy there last 4th of July, a shooting at the annual 4th of July parade. But I know that you became part of this movement called March Fourth, working with other moms in Highland Park and so would just love to hear a little bit about that just in general and also what it kind of taught you as a marketer, as a mom. I’d love to hear a bit more about that.
Katie Stoller: Yeah, no, and thank you so much for bringing this up and letting me talk about it, because I feel like I go on podcasts all the time talking about influencer marketing, but this is such a big part of my life and it’s really made me a better marketer just being part of this group. Not that it at all is because of that. I’m doing it because we have a very, very important mission that we’re working towards.
Katie Stoller: But I’ll give you the little backstory and then I can talk kind of about my role on it. So 4th of July 2022, a shooter with an assault weapon came in the middle of a parade and just shot bullets, raining down on the crowd from a rooftop in Highland Park, and not even going to go into it because it’s very emotional, but it destroyed my community. I mean, there’s people that had to quit their jobs, there’s people that moved. It was a very, very destructive situation.
Katie Stoller: And from that, our founder, Kitty Brandtner, who was a couple of towns over, she’s from the North Shore, was like, “Enough.” She was a mom that was just like, “I’m done. I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not going to continue to send my kids to school and continue to go about my life like this is normal.” So this all happened on social media in hours and I’m talking within three or four days, we were in D.C. with 500 women marching.
Danielle Wiley: Oh, my gosh.
Katie Stoller: I’ve never seen anything. In all my years of working with household name brands, I mean, I’ve worked on very, very large brands, I’ve never seen anything like this before. All unpaid, all volunteers.
Katie Stoller: So our mission is to federally ban assault weapons and we support all the other gun violence organizations that are working at state-level bans. We think those are very important. But our mission is to get this federal law passed because, without the federal law, the state-enforced laws are just really difficult to track. I mean, people can go from one state to another very easily, and the bottom line is there’s literally no use for these assault weapons at all. You can’t go hunting with them. They destroy organs, they liquefy human bodies and animals. There’s no need for them aside from just having them as a hobby and our message is just that our children are worth more than your hobby. So we do marches in D.C. I’ve been part of two of them. They’re amazing. We lobby, we have lobbyists there as much as we can. We’re obviously all volunteer and that’s just our single mission and we’re not going to stop until this ban gets passed. And we’re doing everything in our power.
Katie Stoller: But the women that have come together, it’s mostly women. There are men that support us, but it’s mostly primarily moms, some non-moms that just have come together and just formed this structured organization. We have lawyers, we have writers. We have an amazing PR team with PR people from the top agencies that are volunteering their time. I work on the partnerships team. I mostly work getting influencers to post about us and just be part of kind of an ambassador program that we’re working through. We have a celebrity buyer that works on the team with us, we just got Elizabeth Banks to sign on as our first big celebrity ambassador.
Katie Stoller: But it’s unbelievable. The power of mothers and the power of women is, it’s scary how much we can accomplish, and I would just encourage anyone that feels passionately. It’s about 70% of the country actually does feel passionately about this. According to polls, most people do not want these weapons on our streets, so if you do feel passionately, we’d love to have your support. We’re always looking for more volunteers. But it’s just been amazing to see something formalized so quickly and with such passion and all completely volunteer. Totally grassroots. We take donations to get survivors to the marches and we use them for lobbying and things but no one gets paid. It’s all just us wanting to get this bill passed.
Danielle Wiley: That’s amazing. Well, and we will put information on the show notes page when this goes live.
Katie Stoller: Thank you so much.
Danielle Wiley: I’m thrilled to talk to you about it and have you share more and we will get as many people as we can over to donate.
Katie Stoller: Yes, thank you.
Danielle Wiley: That’s awesome, yeah. I feel like we keep, serious, not serious here. So to close things out, this is season four of the podcast, which is kind of hard to believe. So for season four, we are asking everyone to share, what’s the last thing that you are influenced to buy, read, or watch?
Katie Stoller: I was just thinking about this and I feel like this is such a stupid kind of answer, but I feel like I’m in my podcast era. I’ve been just so consumed with podcasts and as a mom, the medium just works so well for me ’cause I can just pop in an earbud and I’ve been buying so much podcast swag. It sounds so silly, but rather than going to Lululemon or Nordstrom or a real store, I buy hats. I’ve bought sweatshirts. I have bought sweatpants. Literally, half my wardrobe now has random podcast logos on it. My husband’s like, “What is that?” But it’s like I want to support them, but I also am just so proud of some of these communities that I feel like I’m part of from these podcasts that I listen to all the time, so that was kind of my fun, weird thing that I’ve been influenced by ’cause I feel like any time someone’s like, “We’ve got new merch up,” I’m like, “Oh, my god,” and I like run to the website.
Danielle Wiley: Love it. I love it. Well, I was just sharing on LinkedIn this morning that one of the last things I was influenced, one of my business partners recommended these very smutty, spicy novels to me by this author named Tessa Bailey and I jammed through two of them last week and I was like, “This is not great literature.” But hey, sometimes you need a diversion.
Katie Stoller: I have to send you one of my good friends who I’ve worked with at a couple of the agencies, her name’s Molly. She started a BookTok Instagram on books, which is a huge community I didn’t even know about less than two years ago and she’s already grown massive. The growth in that book world is huge. I’ll send you her name ’cause she has really good recommendations.
Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I know, it’s crazy, and some of the team was sending around the other day. They were like, it was BookTok recommendations for your relationship and it was these women teaching their husband to grab their chin gently and to do this move that they always describe in the books that’s very sexy and alluring and no guy would ever do it on his own and so it was a whole TikTok of women training their husbands to do this one move. It’s very funny.
Katie Stoller: Oh, my god, I love that.
Danielle Wiley: Well, this was wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on and it was great chatting with you and learning more about everything and we will absolutely promote the Influencer Insider Guide and March Fourth and love everything that you’re doing.
Katie Stoller: Thank you so much for having me. It was so nice chatting.
Danielle Wiley: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.