When Genevieve Day started an agency that promoted fashion bloggers and influencers in 2015, it was at a time when the term ‘influencer’ wasn’t the buzz word it is today.
Her talent management agency, Day Management, now represents 16 influencers, including bloggers, actors and reality stars, who have a combined reach of more than 3 million.
In 2015, the social media landscape was very different, but Day saw an opportunity.
She had previously worked in public relations in the luxury travel space and during that time noticed a shift in the digital media landscape. Clients were no longer requesting coverage in traditional media – they wanted to see their brands on social media platforms.
At the time, Day was working with several influencers and personalities who were unaware of how they could work with brands or what they should be charging for brand collaborations.
“They (influencers) were creating this beautiful content and reaching tens of thousands of people but didn’t quite know how to monetise it. I saw a gap in the market there, especially here in Melbourne where there weren’t that many agencies,” Day said.
At the time of launching Day Management, Instagram was around but it hadn’t yet exploded. The social media platform was still showing a chronological news feed, unlike today’s algorithm-based feed, and features like carousel images, Instagram Stories and IGTV didn’t exist.
Day admits she faced a challenge trying to convince people that Instagram worked as a marketing tool. The platform didn’t offer the analytics it provides today.
“It was such a risk because no one knew what influencer marketing was at the time. It was so new. But it really was a benefit for us to be one of the first to market,” she said.
Day said she recognised the opportunity in Instagram and knew she had to be part of the game.
“A lot of it was a gut feeling. I felt this internal urgency that I had to do it then, otherwise I’d miss the boat,” she said.
Influencers and authenticity
The way that influencers and brands now work together has become more sophisticated, said Day.
It’s no longer about creating a one-off sponsored post and moving onto the next job. It’s about developing brand partnerships where the talent can work with brands with more connection and longevity.
Influencers are now signing up as brand ambassadors and spokespeople, hosting events and creating bespoke content that brands can own, Day said.
There has also been a massive shift towards authenticity in branded content and brand collaborations.
“It’s more about building a family of brands that influencers work with that is really authentic and is a great brand alignment for their audience,” Day said.
Day said she strives for her influencers to work with brands in ways that are genuine.
“We always say the best luxury is being able to say no. We’d never force a collaboration that’s not right. We’re more than happy to say no to something until the right thing comes along,” she said.
“At the end of the day, it has to be authentic to the influencer.”
Growing a small business
From small beginnings, Day Management has grown and now employs three staff members.
The business has experienced year-on-year growth, and recorded 40 per cent growth in the last financial year.
And while managing talent and attending events may sound like a glamourous job, Day confirms that this isn’t always the case.
“There is a lot of email time. A lot of time is spent at the desk doing negotiations and contracts,” she said.
The job also involves a lot of meetings to establish partnerships and deals with brands.
Day said it is particularly important nowadays to have face time with clients because we live in a world that hides behind screens.
“I think especially in a competitive industry, you’ll stay top-of-mind if you can meet with them (clients) in person. I’m also a firm believer of picking up the phone. People don’t do that anymore. If you want to close a deal, pick up the phone,” she said.
Networking is also important.
“You’ve got to show up. You’ve got to be at the right events and be talking to not just the right people, but to everybody because you never know where a lead can come from,” Day said.
Day has also found networking to be a valuable brand awareness activity, to let people know that her business exists.
Even though it can feel intimidating to attend a networking event and talk to strangers about yourself and your business, Day said it is worth pushing past those feelings of doubt.
“I think a lot of people think they don’t have the right to be there or the right to be talking about themselves. But if you’re owning what you do with confidence, people will want to listen.”
Valuable lessons in business
Over the years, Day has learned a thing or two about starting and running a business.
One of her top tips for success is: don’t second guess yourself.
“Leave your ego at the door and develop a really thick skin, especially if you’re in a sales role or pitching for new business. You have to be willing to be shut down – and that’s how you succeed,” she said.
“There have been so many times where I’ve done a shameless pitch, and sent a shameless follow-up and it has resulted in an amazing job. Knock on every door.”
And if the deal doesn’t come through, ask for feedback, said Day.
You may learn something from a pitch that you didn’t win, which allows you to be prepared for next time. Also ask how you can improve. Perhaps your pitch is perfect, but you’ve approached the brand at the wrong time.
For women who are thinking about starting their own business, Day recommends to just do it.
“There’s a famous quote that I like: ‘Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will’. So, just go for it. Be confident in your abilities and know your worth.”