Interview with Like Minded Collective Founder, Inbal Claudio, as she shares all things influencers, community, and how to land the perfect influencer + brand partnership. 

Blaire Brown:

Hi, everybody. I’m so excited because today I’m having a conversation with Inbal Claudio, Founder of Like-Minded Collective. The fun thing about Inbal is that we met in a Facebook group, of all places, and we’ve since become friends. We throw around business ideas and advice at each other all the time. I thought it would be fitting that she comes on here and tells us about her exciting new platform. I’d love to discuss all things, influencers, because she is an expert on that. If there’s one thing that marketers need in their marketing strategy, it is influencers and it is a mysterious world that a lot of people are unsure about. So Inbal, let’s back up and talk about your entrepreneurship journey. What did you do before Like-Minded Collective and how did you get here?

Inbal Claudio:

Thanks for having me <laugh> I started working when I was like 16 years old and for as long as I can remember, I always had like two or three jobs. I’ve always loved working and making money. I’ve always looked at the businesses that I’ve worked for and thought about how I could improve them, and so I knew that one day I wanted to start my own business because when I brought these ideas to the owners of the companies, they weren’t received very well <laughs>. You know, I worked in the restaurant and bar industry, so it was mostly men who were drunk all the time. 

So I’m like, “I’m trying to help your business.” And they were like, “well, let’s try this some other time.”

I ended up leaving the restaurant and bar industry and got into real estate where I could have my own business and quickly realized that was not for me. After going back to the corporate world, my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, and I decided to start a candle company together. We really wanted to focus on all natural,  really non-toxic products, and we wanted to hand make them (not outsourced.) We wanted to make sure that they were luxurious, too, so we infused them with gold. We built that candle company four years ago.

Blaire Brown:

That’s awesome. You said it’s a luxury candle company too, right? I love that.

Inbal Claudio:

So yeah, we infuse all the wax with real gold so when it burns, the wax shimmer is really beautiful. It has that visual aspect to it, which is really pretty. So about a year after we launched, I had my baby <laughs> and I wanna say maybe like a year and a half or so, I was doing shows constantly. I was going to like three day shows, and we lived in North Carolina at the time. So I was going to Raleigh, going to Charlotte, just doing tons of shows in markets. When my daughter was born, I had to kind of cut back on that. So I looked at influencer marketing. I wanted to send people my candles, and maybe pay a small fee but I didn’t find anybody who was interested in doing that.

All the influencers that I was reaching out to were like $1000 dollars a  post, or  $5,000 a post. It took me a while to come up with that information because I would message them and it would get lost or I’d email them and have to wait for their PR person to get back to me. So it wasn’t an efficient way to search on my own. So I tried to find influencer marketing platforms and I quickly realized that they were charging like $200 to $500 a month to use their platforms, or they required like a minimum amount to be spent a year on influencer marketing, which was upwards of like $10,000 to $20,000. 

Blaire Brown:

That’s crazy. I mean, it’s so expensive and it’s very difficult with influencers with my experience working with them just knowing how much to budget.  As a small business owner, it’s a hard line to walk cuz you wanna get your business off the ground, but how do you find somebody that’s not gonna be astronomical?

Inbal Claudio:

Yeah exactly. And there’s so much more too, like these platforms weren’t accepting me because I was a one person company. They were looking for like 20 employees, too. On top of that, you have to make sure that the influencer that you are partnering with is also legit. Meaning, they don’t have fake followers, they don’t have fake comments,  [your have to make sure]  their engagement is there. I mean, there’s so much work to be done. And on top of it, these platforms are charging hundreds of dollars. So I wanted to create a platform for people who are just starting out, like influencers who have less than a thousand or 5,000 followers with brands who don’t have the budget to spend hundreds a month, and for them to collaborate, like even for free product or like $200, a post $500 a post. Just people who are starting out and want to build their brand, but don’t really know how or can’t afford to join these expensive platforms. So that’s why I created Like-Minded Collective.

Blaire Brown:

That’s amazing. And you know, in my experience working with influencers, I find that the smaller audiences for the influencers are actually the best people to call up because they care more about your product. They really put effort into  taking great photos. I feel like those are the best people. Plus, you really build that relationship from the beginning. You believe in them, and they’re very appreciative of that. Then [over time] it just kind of grows into this great business relationship.

Inbal Claudio:

Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah, no, I completely agree. And it’s funny because when I first came up with the idea, I got connected to somebody who was in this venture capitalist firm in New York and his wife worked for Sour Patch Kids. She just kind of gave me input, and this is before I did any of the development.

Blaire Brown:

Did you get samples? <laughs>

Inbal Claudio:

I wish <laugh>. She basically said she worked in their marketing department, funny enough. And she said, you know, we work with these influencers who have hundreds of thousands of followers. Sometimes we see better engagement when they have like 10,000 followers, because like exactly what you said, they’re more genuinely interested in what you’re doing in your product, it’s not just a paycheck for them. You know? So when you are genuinely interested in something, it shows through your stories, through your photos, through your posts and that’s how you get more engagement and turnover. 

Blaire Brown:

Yeah. It’s more thoughtful. I think that’s probably the right term for it because they’re [influencers]  wanting to get off the ground and they really care. Then you’re [small business owners] also getting your business off the ground. So it really creates something special, I think. 

Inbal Claudio:

Yeah. I agree. 

Blaire Brown:

Plus, not robbing the bank, and that’s key if you’re starting out as well. <Laughs>

Inbal Claudio:

Yeah. They charge so much money and I understand that…

 Blaire Brown:

Yeah I was shocked!

 Inbal Claudio:

 Yeah. I know my husband, to this day, he was so mad he’s like, how can these influencers charge so much money?!

 Blaire Brown:

<Laugh> I know. Yeah, a friend  of mine was like, “you should just be an influencer.” I was like, “girl, you have to post content nonstop of yourself.” It’s just hard. I don’t know…Not for me. That’s not the industry I ended up in for myself. I think sticking to marketing [the way I’m doing it now]  is what I’ll stick with. <laugh>

 Inbal Claudio:

Yeah. Yeah. You gotta stick to what you do best. 

 Blaire Brown:

I’ll work with influencers, but I won’t be the influencer. I am completely fine with that.

 Inbal Claudio:

<Laugh> yeah. Yeah, exactly. I agree.

Blaire Brown:

<Laugh> So the influencer phenomenon, it’s a little crazy, like, I’d say probably 10 years ago, we talked about this a little bit yesterday. I’d say 10 years ago, maybe 12 or more are now. I don’t even know. It just blew up and it’s amazing how it’s taken over the marketing industry.

Inbal Claudio:

Yeah. It is. It is crazy. Like now I posted something on Facebook the other day that  I’m looking for different marketing ideas and 95% of the people that responded were like digital marketing, digital marketing, digital marketing, influencer marketing. And it’s just huge. That’s where people are, you know.  People aren’t really listening to their radio or like now they’re doing more podcasts, you know.  So yeah. Influencer marketing is where it’s at. The problem is that there’s so many influencers now. Well, I guess that’s not a bad problem. It’s a good problem. But there’s so many influencers. And so you just  need to really be careful who you go with and where you spend your time and energy, because you wanna make sure that you know the partnership will work.

 Blaire Brown:

Yeah. It’s really important really look at what this person’s posting, especially if they’re asking you for free product or services. I’ve had people reach out to me in the past, they’re like, “oh,  I’m an influencer. Here’s my stats.” And then I go to their website and it’s like, okay, you post about lip gloss and skincare, but what do I do in my business with that? Nothing. <Laugh> So I’m like, did you guys even look at what my business is?  So you do have to be weary of people like that, for sure. 

What types of businesses do you think benefit from influencers the most? Do you think, think there’s one specific area or several key ones?

 Inbal Claudio:

I honestly think that anybody could benefit from influencer marketing so there’s a few, there’s obviously brands that are a little bit easier than others. Like candles are super hard, and I learned that the hard way, because people need to smell the scents. It’s difficult to sell a candle through Instagram if you can’t smell it, which is why it’s so important that the people that I have influencing for my candle company, need to really genuinely talk about the product, not just post a photo and leave it at that. Cuz I’ve noticed that those have zero ROI. There’s so many different industries like in the fashion world, boutiques are huge in clothing. Are you familiar with Vici? 

 Blaire Brown:

Yes. 

 Inbal Claudio:

Yeah. So Vici is a local boutique that started off in an office building here where I’m from and I used to shop there and then they blew up. They started sending all these influencers clothes and now I think they have like over a million followers on Instagram. They opened up storefronts. It’s amazing. So I think boutiques and clothing and jewelry, those types of industries are huge. You also have fitness, you know, nutrition, workouts, business coaches. So all those types of businesses I think are really beneficial when it comes to influencer marketing. 

 Blaire Brown:

That’s awesome. So if you, of all the campaigns that you’ve seen, what do you think would be the most creative one that you’ve encountered so far or what would make a creative influencer campaign?

 Inbal Claudio:

Oh my gosh. I think ones, I think ones that are genuine. So there’s not one that, you know, pops into my head, but like I kind of talked about before. I think having that genuine connection between the brand and the influencer makes such a huge difference. So putting in the effort to create something, not just standing and holding a product, but making a reel about it. Things like that really draw more attention and create more of a hype or  buzz and get more engagement.

 Blaire Brown:

You’ve definitely been on your reel game, on your Instagram. <Laugh> Everybody listening, if you haven’t checked out her Instagram, you have to go. It’s awesome. 

 Inbal Claudio:

Thank you. <Laugh>. 

 Blaire Brown:

Yeah, of course. So tell us about Like-Minded Collective. I know you told us how it got started, but who should be on your platform? Tell us all about it– what are the pro tips for using your platform?

 Inbal Claudio:

Yeah. So initially I started it as an influencer marketing platform just for people who are starting out. So like I said: nano influencers, really small businesses that don’t have the budget. Then as I was building this platform, I was like, wow, this could be a platform to build your business. So if you are a business coach or a web developer or a designer or a photographer, you can benefit from the people who are on the platform too. Cause there’s influencers and brands. So anybody who can benefit or help somebody build their brand can go on the platform. So there’s two categories: there’s the influencer side, and then there’s the brand and small business side. You can search for anybody on the platform if you have a paid account. So influencers, brands,  small businesses… and yeah, it’s really meant for anybody who’s an entrepreneur or aspiring one to use the platform. If you’re looking to even become an influencer, you can sign up and then reach out to other influencers and ask them like, Hey, would love to get on a call with you, or if you can help me think of ideas, or I love your aesthetic, or can I ask you how you started? It’s just ways for people to grow, and that was my goal from the beginning– and it’s affordable.

 Blaire Brown:

I love that. I love that it is so affordable and [cuz I have an account on there, obviously] it’s really great that you have it every kind of niche you could think of for a business owner or influencer, or creative. I mean, you can pick the different categories that you land in, multiple categories, and I feel like that’s such a cool asset that you have created on there, cuz I haven’t been to a website with that many options. 

 Inbal Claudio:

Thank you. Yeah. I tried to do a lot of research and development before… like I posted on a lot of Facebook group pages. Like what’s your niche, what’s your niche because a lot of people just focus on fashion, but there’s so many different types of fashion, like vintage.

 Blaire Brown:

It’s a huge industry. Yeah.

 Inbal Claudio:

It’s huge! Affordable, luxury, you know, plus- size. There’s categories for everybody, and I think that when you’re looking for something specific, you have to really narrow it down as much as possible. So I’m always adding new ones that people bring to me, they’re like, “oh this is my niche. And I don’t see it on there.” I’m like, okay, I’ll add it. So I wanted it to be catered andI honestly just want people to be understood and I want people to feel welcome. And that’s the whole point of Like-Minded, is I feel like, me being the face of it –there’s a lot of influencer marketing platforms out there that nobody knows who founded them, there are  just like hundreds of thousands of people, and they don’t care about you. They care about the numbers, they care about your orders. They care about how much you’re gonna spend. And I don’t want LMC to be that way. I want it to be different.

 Blaire Brown:

Yours is already way more personable. I mean, I like that you’ve been highlighting specific members in your community on your different social accounts. I think that’s a really cool opportunity. Even your emails are super personable.

 Inbal Claudio:

Thank you! 

 Blaire Brown: 

I love it. It already sets itself apart in that way. 

 nbal Claudio:

Thank you! I appreciate that. 

 Blaire Brown:

I mean, I know it’s a lot of work to do that, but personalization really does help. <laugh>

 Inbal Claudio:

It does. Yeah. I think we were talking about this yesterday, I started cold emailing and so just reaching out to people and trying to be as personal as possible. I think the biggest thing is just finding their first name and reaching out to people using their first name instead of their Instagram handle or just kind of putting in a little bit more effort to find out who you’re talking to goes a long way.

 Blaire Brown:

Yeah, it does just like a tiny something that probably took you five minutes or less. It’s gonna resonate with somebody and last longer, like they’re more likely to actually check out your website. Yeah. Which is exactly the key for every single business owner. Right?! <laugh> 

 Inbal Claudio: 

Yeah! <laugh>

 Blaire Brown:

So we already went over the creative influencer campaigns, but what would you, of all the pro tips, what is the number one pro-tip  for working with influencers and landing the perfect partnership? Because we all want that. The partnership where  the clouds part, the sunshine comes down. How do you land that?

 Inbal Claudio:

So I honestly like to think of it as the same way as being in a perfect relationship,  and communication is key. If you are a brand and you’re reaching out to an influencer, make sure that you’re communicating exactly what you want, and exactly what you’re offering, and the same goes for influencers and brands. If somebody wants to give you free product and you think you deserve $200 for a post, then be honest about that and tell them what you can give them in return for that $200, you know? And as a brand, if you can’t afford $200, but you can give them free product, explain to them why, and if they understand where you’re coming from, then maybe they’re willing to work with you. So I think communication is key, being genuine and putting in effort because like I said, there’s so many influencers and there’s so many brands that are just trying to start out and you need to separate yourself somehow from everybody else. So being genuine and communicating exactly what you want, I think is a good start. 

 Blaire Brown:

Yeah, and that’s an easy way to stand out, right?  It’s just takes that extra step, like we said, but it does make such a huge impact, and I feel like that would make a lasting business relationship.

 Inbal Claudio:

Yeah. That’s just my 2 cents. <Laugh> 

Blaire Brown:

I love that, I love that. I think everybody listening should do that. But everybody listening also should sign up for Like-Minded Collective. So tell me for the action takers out there. What should they do today? How can they find you and sign up and be a part of this awesome community?

 Inbal Claudio:

Yes. So the website is Like-Minded Collective.com and Instagram is like.minded.collective.I have a Facebook group page as well. If you go to Instagram and you go to the link tree, there’s a link from there.

 Blaire Brown:

I’ll link everything for you as well. 

 Inbal Claudio:

Oh, awesome. Thank you. <Laugh> thank you. So yeah, right now we’re in beta, so we don’t officially launch until February. It’s completely free for everybody until then. Then after February, it’s $25 for brands and small businesses. Any feedback would be amazing, positive, or  negative things. You’re loving things,  you’re hating things. New niches that you want me to add. Just anything would be helpful.

 Blaire Brown:

Niche it up, girl! Yay! You got all of them. I love it. <Laugh> Awesome. Well, I’m so happy that you hopped on today. You gave us so much helpful information about influencers, how to work with them,  how to land the perfect influencer partnership. I’m so excited that you just launched your program. Watching it grow is just gonna be so exciting! Everybody sign up right now, become a part of this community. It’s really gonna help you grow your business.

 Inbal Claudio:

Thank you so much, Blaire. Thank you.

 Blaire Brown:

Yeah. Thank you again! I’m sure we’ll be talking soon because I need all your updates.

 Inbal Claudio:

Yes!

 Blaire Brown:

 Awesome. Thanks for all of you listening– I’ll be talking to you soon.

 

Connect with Like Minded Collective! 

Websitewww.likemindedcollective.com

Instagramwww.instagram.com/like.minded.collective 

Join the Like Minded Collective FB Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/like.mindedcollective 

 

Inbal’s Favorites

Favorite candle scent: Teakwood 🕯

Ice cream Flavor: Anything with LOTS of caramel 🍦

Dream Influencer Collaboration: A collaborations with Sivan Ayla… love everything about her brand, business, instagram and lifestyle

Fun Fact: I was born on leap day 🌟

Best Way to Unwind: Taking a drive along the coast 🗺

hi there, I'm blaire!

I’m an expert at marketing & entrepreneurship, and completely obsessed with helping business owners transform their dreams into booming success stories. Sometimes it just takes an extra set of hands and another person’s perspective to make the business magic happen. Contact me today and let's talk shop! 

 

 

Listen To My Latest Podcast Episode:

3 Best Ways Small Businesses Can Work with Influencers featuring Inbal Claudio