Could you share a bit about yourself and your career before Intellifluence?
My name is Joe Sinkwitz. I have undergraduate degrees in Operations Management and Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona and a MBA from W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Early in my career I developed state and local tax software for the accounting firm KPMG and was early to search engine marketing in 1997, working for a variety of clients and agencies. From 2003-2013 I ran Empirical Marketing, which was a boutique SEO company, was the chief of revenue for large content creation firm CopyPress, and just prior to founding Intellifluence was the CMO of a stealth consumer product goods company out of Hollywood. This blended background of technology and marketing set the stage for me to found Intellifluence.
Can you tell us more about Intellifluence, its success, and its growing popularity since 2016?
Intellifluence was founded out of a need. When I was the CMO of the stealth cpg company we were constrained as to where we could place advertisements to test out our product with the public – the only way we could gain visibility was through the hands of select influencers. Unfortunately, at the time only talent agencies existed, all of which required a high monthly minimum, only focused on celebrities, and excessive commission fees. Since my previous agency had the requisite experience in building marketing technology we decided to develop an influencer network that focused on the inverse aspects of the market. Initially onboarding small influencers and small brands, we had success in being an option for the forgotten pieces of the industry; over time with continued development and market awareness we were able to move up market to where we now work with large and small influencers and brands alike.
Could you please elaborate on the Intellifluence platform and what sets it apart from the competition?
Intellifluence is the largest of the warm contact only influencer networks. What this means is everyone we show in our system has actively signed up to work with us. Further, as one of the few bootstrapped companies in the industry, especially 7+ year bootstrapped, we’re able to offering pricing well below what our VC backed peers are forced to charge.
What’s your favorite part about working in this industry?
Everyday is an adventure. The industry is so varied and specialized that there’s always something new to learn. Where we’re network agnostic, choosing to work with any public network we can verify completed work on, some platforms hyper focus on singular networks and thus have some unique ways of approaching the user experience. This is still very much the wild west of the industry, so I suspect we’ll see quite a bit of ecosystem evolution as companies mature and businesses get more accustomed to working with influencers.
What are the most common issues that clients approach you with?
One of the biggest issues with any influencer marketing client is not knowing how to target the right influencer. Often this comes from not fully thinking through what the end goal of the campaign should be, who the expected audience might be that would contribute to that goal, and then working backwards to determine which influencers best exemplify the traits desired to meet this overall goal. Once a brand understands what they’re really looking to accomplish and who the buying audience is, targeting gets a lot easier.
How has Intellifluence implemented its own internal payments platform?
The simple answer is we simply built it. We had to. Anyone that worked in the early days of influencer marketing had stories of brands that would promise to pay afterwards or influencers that would demand upfront monies, with parties not upholding their end of the agreement. By creating an internal payments platform it allowed for us to control through trust, which we call the Intellifluence Promise, to show that a brand has the required funds to satisfy a campaign and then making sure the influencer receives those funds at the satisfactory conclusion of the campaign.
Can you highlight the rise of AI in influencer marketing and how startups are incorporating it into their businesses?
A lot of AI is a gimmick still and shouldn’t be blindly trusted, but there are absolutely some ways the current generation of AI tools can be used to improve overall processes. One big way is in support, allowing the contextual understanding of a question to be paired up with the most probable answer before engaging a human rep, saving time for users in the system. Another big use case is in ideation, wherein the campaign requirements could be fed into an AI system to ask the general themes which might best resonate with an audience, which a human can then produce. Beware of hallucinations and copyright issues; always check the work.
Can you share the importance of customer support and how decision-making is weighed between the brand, influencer, and the company at Intellifluence?
Great question. First, a lot of our development comes from interactions with support. We are very keen to the feedback we get from influencers and brands; whenever any sort of confusion exists we try to eliminate through development. When it comes to any sort of support decision we act upon the three pillars of Intellifluence; every decision has to be equally fair to the influencer, the brand, and the company – this ensures that no one party ends up taking advantage of the others and puts emphasis on adherence to the accepted pitch details within the system.
Can you give a sneak peek into Intellifluence’s growth plans?
Growth comes in waves and trickles. A lot of our longterm growth will come through API partnerships where Intellifluence is a solution to a problem encountered on another platform. In the short term we derive quite a bit of our growth from referrals and direct outreach.
Can you tell us more about your work culture, and what makes Intellifluence’s culture unique?
I don’t recommend that anyone adopt my work habits. I wake up at 4am and begin working, falling asleep just after 8pm. There are breaks for food, hydration, and exercise, but that’s about it. The rest of the team is more balanced and varied with extremely early hour workers that develop for 3-4 hour bursts, later evening support members casually answering tickets while watching movies – I’m really not the best to ask about balance; I work until I cannot.
What is the one book that most impacted your career? Why?
I’ve read so many books and encourage people to consume as much as they can, both for the rare nuggets of information as well as to encounter ideas they very much disagree with, as there are learnings in both. If pressured to pick just one book, perhaps Lions Don’t Need to Roar by Debra Benton; it was the book that got me started in thinking about sales as a function of any professional aspiration.
What is the best piece of advice that you would want to give to company leaders today?
Similar to which books to read, there’s so much advice that exists which can be both very useful or very bad. The best advice to people looking to start a company is to simply start – launch it as a side hustle if need be, while you are at your day job. The longer you put off launching, the further you are away from achieving what you desire.
Joe Sinkwitz, Co-founder, CEO at Intellifluence
Joe Sinkwitz is the CEO of Intellifluence. Joe has over 25 years of experience in SEO, leading several successful marketing companies and providing expert consultation. Additionally, he is the author of ‘The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing’, which is available on Amazon.