Dear Startup Founders: The Best Influencer To Hire Is Already On Your Payroll

Chris Herbert
3 min readJan 25, 2024

In the ever-evolving world of startup marketing, the role of User-Generated Content (UGC) and influencer marketing has become increasingly prominent. However, the golden era of leveraging free influencers by merely offering them products is fading away. Nowadays, influencers come with significant price tags, ranging from $1,000 to over $250,000, and they have agents to negotiate their deals. This shift has posed a challenge for startups striving to gain traction without breaking the bank.

Yet, amidst these rising costs and complexities, startups are overlooking a powerful resource that’s already part of their arsenal: their founders. Founders are inherently adept at pitching their vision and story to investors, teams, and customers. Their authentic passion and deep understanding of their products or services can translate into compelling ad creatives when they step in front of the camera.

However, many founders are apprehensive about taking on the role of a spokesperson. Concerns range from perfectionism and a desire for privacy to feeling disingenuous. Overcoming these hurdles is crucial, as founders can be the most authentic and impactful influencers for their brands.

Here are some strategies to help camera-shy founders become confident spokespeople:

  1. Start with a Podcast: An informal podcast interview can be an excellent way for founders to ease into the role of a spokesperson. Platforms like riverside.fm offer an accessible way to create high-quality recordings. These podcasts can be repurposed into short social posts or ads, providing versatile content with a personal touch.

Leverage the Founding Story: Encourage founders to share their founding story or elevator pitch. This narrative is something they’re familiar with and have often shared at networking events. By overlaying this narrative with product videos, startups can create an engaging and authentic pitch.

Embrace Imperfection: Remind founders that social media is forgiving. Not every post needs to be perfect, and the risk is relatively low with early posts garnering only hundreds of impressions. This approach reduces pressure and allows for a more authentic presentation.

Repetition is Key: Founders can refine their message by repeating their pitch or story across various platforms. This repetition not only improves their comfort and delivery but also reinforces the brand message to the audience.

In the age of platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where authenticity and personal connection are highly valued, founders can be the most compelling influencers and spokespersons for their startups. Marketing teams should focus on supporting their founders in overcoming any initial hesitation and helping them embrace this influential role.

Conclusion

Founders stepping into the role of influencers is not just a cost-effective strategy but also a means to foster genuine connections with their audience. In a world where consumers seek authenticity, a founder’s passion and conviction can be the most influential marketing tool a startup has. So, founders, it’s time to step into the spotlight — you can always delete it later, but you won’t know the impact until you try.

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Chris Herbert

Squall Growth Marketing for Startups. Previous 3x startup founder - TrackR, Cliq, Shine