By

Lumanu

May 14, 2024

Breaking the Myths: How Talent Managers are Impacting Influencer Marketing

Introduction

Talent managers and agents play a large and growing role in the influencer marketing ecosystem, and play a vital role in driving the success of marketing campaigns. We previously wrote an article analyzing $500M+ influencer payment across 250K payouts, and are now revisiting this data along with insights from from influencer managers to understand the impact talent managers have on influencer marketing campaigns. 

Our data showed that brands paid influencers via talent managers or agents for 33.4% of all payouts over the past 12 months (Source: Lumanu data across ~250K payouts). Influencer marketers must navigate the dynamics between talent managements and their influencer partners to run successful influencer campaigns. With the recent news that Jimmy Donaldson (aka Mr. Beast) is leaving his talent management firm Night Media there is chatter about how the landscape may be changing at least for large creators who want to take ownership over their brands. In this article we explore how marketing teams at brands can succeed with influencer marketing when working with talent management.

Advantages to Brands when Working with Talent Managers

Brands don’t typically have the option of working with management when choosing to work with a specific influencer - the influencer either has representation or they don’t. That said, working with talent managers can bring several advantages to brands, including:

Partnership alignment: Talent managers understand how to translate campaign briefs and objectives. They can recommend specific talent from across their roster who they believe will best fit the brand's needs, ensuring a higher likelihood of campaign success. They also work with their talent to help ensure deliverables will meet or exceed expectations. When working with the same talent management group with several partners they can learn what really works, what delivers results for your brand and can replicate success across their roster.

"As talent managers, we work across hundreds of campaigns for our creators so we have a strong understanding of who can drive conversion, who is most likely to create a viral moment and who is going to be able to shift brand perspective. We're an asset when it comes to matching the right talent to meet your KPIs."
- Molly Tracy CEO & Founder, VRAI Digital

Operational Efficiency: With dedicated staff experienced in negotiations, contracting, and vendor setup, and invoicing, talent managers can offer faster turnaround times and less effort on the part of the brand to move projects forward. They are also typically able to manage communication and provide status updates quicker than an independent influencer trying to manage EVERYTHING on their own.

Compliance and deliverables: Talent managers ensure that deliverables are met, contain proper disclosures and meet brand standards. They’ll also work with the brand to help ensure brand commitments like shipping products on time are met.

Biggest Challenges in Brand <> Talent Management relationships

Despite the advantages, there are a few challenges talent managers face when managing their business. Brands that can solve for these will save time and frustration for all everyone involved. They’ll also receive better service in the future as a good business partner: 

Ensuring that campaign briefs are clear: When content does not meet expectations it is usually the campaign brief that stands to blame (at least partially). Most contracts with talent management will include a set number of revisions (often once) but it’s better to get it right the first time. A strong creative brief and a seasoned talent manager can bring the vision to life. If possible, include a few examples of great content (and why) as well as things you do not want (and why). In the event that deliverables are not what was expected (they won’t be every time) then have an open dialogue with the other side. Talent and their manager do not want their brand partner(s) to have a bad taste in their mouth. There can often be remedies like a make good post or even the ability to launch on a different channel to drive better results.

“One of the most important roles of a talent manager is having a perfect understanding of what a brand is looking for in the creative and then translating that in a way that influencers can clearly understand and deliver on.”
- Steve Cyr VP Client Services, Station Entertainment

Delayed and non payments: Brands not paying on time is a common occurrence. Station Entertainment talent management estimates 50% of all payments are late for various reasons including cashflow, internal payment policies, and other factors. This forces talent managers to chase down payments to fulfill their obligations to influencers. Non-payment is not as common but still happens roughly only 1-2% of the time! This process is often out of the control of the influencer marketer and in the hands of procurement or finance. Problems arise when talent managers do their jobs and start the payment chase. Influencer marketers then have to take the time to track down status of POs, invoices and approvals with their internal finance teams.

“It sucks that so many freelancers out there don’t get paid on time, especially when they play such a crucial role in keeping an industry going”
- Damaryan Benton, Edelman

Reconciling payments received: When payments are made, they often lack detailed descriptions, making it difficult for talent managers to allocate funds correctly. This can create significant administrative burdens, especially when payments could be for one or multiple influencers. For example payments from a well known platform only say “Creator Pay”, every time there is a question the brand needs to email the platform rep who needs to email their 3rd party payment provider which takes days to figure out details needed.

Does working with talent managers impact the cost of influencer partnerships?

A common belief is that working through management means paying more for an influencer collaboration. Our data shows this is true as 50.1% of payment dollars (vs 33% of payment transactions) went through management. The average payment to influencers represented by managers or agents was approximately double compared to those without representation. However, this does NOT mean that influencers who are represented charge 2x. There are two key reasons why the average payment to represented talent was 2x:

  1. Influencers with greater reach: Larger and more well-known influencers who have built significant audiences are more likely to have representation. These professionals help manage the increasing business demands that come with more brand deals, allowing creators to focus more on what they do best—creating. Note that all celebrity payments were via management which also drove up the average for represented talent in our data set.


  2. More deliverables in deal structures: Deals involving talent managers were more likely to include multiple deliverables. Managers work closely with brands to understand their objectives and propose a package of deliverables that are more likely to deliver impactful results.

As an influencer’s business grow, many realize it is worth investing 10-20% of their income into a management company which will help them find collaborations and deal with the administrative work that comes with sponsorships.

Talent Managers and Agents: Understanding the Difference

Note that there is a difference between talent managers and talent agents, especially in states with large entertainment markets like California and New York. In these states, talent agents must be licensed with the state to arrange employment and be legally allowed to complete negotiations and transactions for the talent they represent. The laws in these states require a very specific flow of funds for all payments, which must be sent to trust fund (aka custodial) accounts. This legal framework impacts how brands work with licensed talent agents, as they must set up each talent individually for payment and tax compliance. If you like reading legislation or are just curious here is California’s Title 8. In the influencer space, managers and agents effectively do the same thing for creators - provide career guidance and support along with finding and negotiating brand deals.

The reason it is important to understand the difference is as a brand you will have to manage the process for tax compliance and payments differently if you are working with a talent manager versus a talent agency like Gersh or UTA.

How Lumanu Helps Brands Working with Talent Management as Part of Influencer Program

Lumanu is dedicated to enhancing the payment experience for brands, influencers, and talent management. Lumanu acts a Master Vendor to handle all compliance while making payments a seamless experience for all parties.

  • Vendor Onboarding and Compliance:

    • Lumanu simplifies the onboarding process for talent management and influencers. Lumanu ensures talent management accounts are set up so they can easily receive funds, reconcile, and pay influencers.

  • Transparency and Control:

    • With Lumanu, marketing and finance teams at a brand have full control and visibility over payments. Influencers and talent management also have full visibility into payment status reducing questions and anxiety over receiving payments.

  • Single Vendor Efficiency:

    • Acting as a single vendor for influencer payments, Lumanu handles all administrative and compliance aspects, allowing brands to focus on their core activities without being bogged down by vendor or payment issues.

  • Quick and Reliable Payment Processing:

    • Lumanu ensures that payments are processed swiftly and reliably, so influencers are paid on time, every time, enhancing satisfaction and trust.

Conclusion

The role of talent managers and agents in influencer marketing is important and growing. As influencer marketing continues to grow, the need for professional and efficient management of influencer relationships will become increasingly important. Brands looking to thrive with influencer marketing will benefit from understanding and leveraging the expertise of talent managers and agents as they partner with them to scale their influencer strategies.

By

Lumanu

May 14, 2024

© 2024 Lumanu, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lumanu, Inc. is a financial technology company and not a bank. Lumanu accounts are provided by i3 Bank, Member FDIC.

© 2024 Lumanu, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lumanu, Inc. is a financial technology company and not a bank. Lumanu accounts are provided by i3 Bank, Member FDIC.

© 2024 Lumanu, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lumanu, Inc. is a financial technology company and not a bank. Lumanu accounts are provided by i3 Bank, Member FDIC.

© 2024 Lumanu, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lumanu, Inc. is a financial technology company and not a bank. Lumanu accounts are provided by i3 Bank, Member FDIC.

© 2024 Lumanu, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Lumanu, Inc. is a financial technology company and not a bank. Lumanu accounts are provided by i3 Bank, Member FDIC.