Sending products to influencers doesn't have to be complicated. It's about choosing a courier service that is both reliable and flexible.
It’s fair to say that PR companies tend to be under a lot of pressure to seek out better ways of improving their audience engagement. A lot of their job is ensuring their client’s message is getting in front of the right people at the right time.
With that in mind, Influencer marketing has become perhaps the most powerful resource in the PR professional’s toolkit. Unlike traditional celebrity endorsement, social influencers are a lot more accessible, often being only passionate amateurs but who command huge reach and add real value to brands. The down side to the global nature of the internet of course, is that these influencers could be almost anywhere in the world so getting goods to them requires good planning.
Taking the responsibility of sending products to influencers does not have to be complicated; however, it does require an established process to keep budgets accurate and to monitor your campaign spend. Sending a demo product out to one influencer just once is relatively straightforward; it’s the repeating of this process multiple times that requires organisation. Compound this with things like return policies and managing expectations in terms of custom controls and unexpected delays, and this becomes pretty challenging to manage!
This is where an international courier partner can come in. Taking advantage of the expertise and experience of an international courier can reap real dividends; as an example, we’ve built up a trusted network of local partners that can help ensure that packages are protected and delivered in perfect condition every time.
Sending packages internationally can be fraught with challenges but while cost issues are always important, accountability and reliability of service are by far the prime concerns for a PR campaign. Getting the process wrong can mean lost goods, insurance claims, delays, damaged reputation and knock-on effects with the client. A bad delivery experience can damage the product and make the entire effort worthless. This is especially the case when the goods need to be returned in the same condition or for popular ‘unboxing’ product reviews – something that’s even more important in the fashion industry. If the box arrives late, damaged, torn or dirty it would almost certainly be commented upon and sour the experience.
Choosing an international courier is not always easy. It’s a very competitive marketplace; you want to ensure you select a specialist with flexible solutions that can adapt to your needs. The goods need to arrive in a way that presents them at their very best, not just in safe delivery but also using the very latest technology. Parcel tracking; SMS messaging; preferred delivery timeslots and electronic proof of delivery (POD) all help create a sense of value around the goods, enhancing the experience and adding value to the brand they are reviewing. Additionally, some partners (like ourselves) offer late collection cut offs; meaning you've a greater chance of arranging last minute deliveries and meeting those agreed deadlines!
The whole package
It is important to consider the parcel itself as part of the client’s brand. Using correct packaging, filling voids within the box and using stretch wrap on the outside creates a sense of value, as does external ‘Fragile’ stickers and printed labels to ensure the writing does not get smudged. For PR companies in particular, it’s important to get it right first time; they might easily be dealing with multiple influencers in multiple regions across different client accounts and business sectors.
PR companies should absolutely be using reputable couriers when shipping goods abroad to influencers. The increased reliability and flexibility of service options allows for increased peace of mind over the safety of the goods and an ongoing good relationship with the influencer. Every courier will have a different process for insuring goods and dealing with any claims but it’s best to know upfront what they can offer and how effective they are if or when things go wrong. Communication is often more critical than the value of the goods inside. Knowing quickly if there has been a problem allows you to respond effectively.
Unfortunately, it’s a fact that customs issues and linehaul failures can lead to delays. International shipping faces a lot of challenges; it’s important you choose a delivery partner that can account for this. When using CitySprint, for example, our international shipping service, Transworld, proactively manages your parcels journey over the course of the whole process.
What this means for you is that your PR company would know ahead of time if there was going to be a late arrival or a customs issues, so you can let your influencers know ahead of time to avoid being caught out. This will stand you in good stead with the influencer and show you are actively heading off issues before they arise. On top of that, our 24/7 customer service teams (all UK-based) are on hand to manage your operations and used to the working with the hours you keep.
Lastly, it is important to look at the coverage of the courier service you are using. CitySprint has some of the best global coverage of any specialist delivery company but whoever you use, you want a company that’s an expert in delivering in a variety of regions with knowledge of the specific customs requirements of each. CitySprint is able to offer outstanding global coverage with over 200 countries covered, largely because of our carefully built up network of high-performance partners. Creating a trusted network is not easy and takes consistent excellence in customer service, which we’re proud to have maintained with Transworld.
All in all, choosing the right delivery partner means you take away the headache for future campaigns and maintain a happy client. Flexibility of solutions is key, whether it is an urgent delivery or a non-time sensitive shipment, and PR companies need a partner that can provide that added peace of mind.
Author: Richard Worland