We’re sitting in a plush sofa of one of the many decadent bars on Shanghai’s bund – the perfect backdrop for a conversation about big fashion, what it is like to live with the label of a “Global Fashion Insider” and running an influencer marketing agency. Yanie does not look like the typical CEO – and she isn’t. Already a global fashion icon, with experience in the Fashion industry in NYC, Milan, Paris, Montreal, and Shanghai, Yanie Durocher has recently made a foray into the business world with her Pom Pom Creative Agency – with a bold mission to strategically lead international fashion retailers to amplify their image in the Chinese Market. And she has some important insights about the future of marketing to share with us.
You started your own highly successful fashion blog The MARGINALIST back in 2012. What was the key to its success?
I think that starting early was quite important to the evolution of the blog, as I was invited to fashion shows in Paris and Milan on a regular basis which created rich content that was then amplified on the blog. As I moved to China, I started to affiliate myself with key fashion media amplifying further the blog. I think strong content is key in order to build a fanbase.
Why The MARGINALIST? What’s behind the name?
Marginalism for me is a group of people that live a lifestyle at the margins of societal norms. This is very important for me as since I’m young I always kind of felt as though as was marginalised.
Do you think that a blog should defend itself with good content, or should bloggers do something extra to promote their efforts?
No need to defend anything, just be consistent. A blog needs good quality content going in parallel with strong promotion and brand collaboration. This makes your blog go to the next level.
How do you write so people actually want to read it? What would you recommend to bloggers who are just starting out?
In general, we heavily invest in research and trends, it really shows when an amateur blogger lacks depth in what they are trying to propose or state. In this case, I suggest going more with visuals if this is the case.
How did you go about promoting your blog? Did the following grow organically over time, or did you engage in any other forms of marketing, e.g. social media or email marketing?
I engage in many forms of marketing via SM and collaborate with a large variety of media in order to increase exposure.
How did you come up with the idea of starting your own influencer agency? Was it inspired by the requests you were getting from companies to promote their products on your blog?
I’m running a creative fashion agency focusing on creative branding campaigns, social media, traditional media, and influencer management. In parallel to The Marginalist, I’ve been working in fashion PR for almost 6 years now in Shanghai. The request actually starting from brands checking out my ins account and asking if I could do content for them as well, this really got the ball rolling for me.
Do you think influencer marketing is the future of marketing that will ultimately replace traditional advertising?
Influencer marketing has its limits and cannot totally replace traditional ADV by its own, as strong professional pure branded content is still needed in order to have a clear sense of direction from the brand.
What is the advantage of influencer marketing over social media marketing or traditional PR? Are there any disadvantages?
In our case, we’re a hybrid flowing from one channel to another. I think in a way this makes us stronger as we can package to our clients these types of services whilst optimizing their costs.
What is the most challenging aspect of running an influencer agency?
For what concerns the KOL angle, I think the actual process and management to attain the KPI is the hardest. Many influencers run through agents and other partners which can make the process extremely cumbersome.
You have a lot of international experience. Do you think there are any differences in influencer marketing between China and Europe?
Yes. Chinese bloggers, in general, have a significantly higher payout then European KOL bloggers in general where their platforms are also much more varied compared to the European/US market. In general, European a blogger receives much more international exposure where their content is also more qualitative compared to Chinese bloggers scattered into different segments and tiers.
Do you work with mostly Chinese or foreign companies? What are the biggest challenges of marketing in China?
I usually work with both. The biggest challenge in China is getting the right communication forward to create good execution. Communication between agency and partner and communication from supplier to supplier. Building a strong, sustainable internal team is the most challenging thing.
How do you reach out to potential influencers? Do you use your contacts and leverage your status as a blogger? Do you need to have a celebrity status first to be able to start an influencer agency or is it something anyone can do?
One of the most challenging things when starting an agency in China is the cash flow. In general, if you’re determined you can do anything, I really think like this. However, it’s important to have the right knowledge and ideas to build your agency in China. Understanding the potential risks vs opportunities and laying them out to yourself in a realistic manner.
Do you work from home or do you have an office? How do you manage your time and what is your best productivity lifehack?
Our offices are located on Huaihai Road/Renmin Road in Shanghai with approx. 6-7 staff plus our admin and accounting team. I now manage 70% of my time on the agency 20% on my blog and 10% personal life at the moment.
Something that keeps me productive is going to the gym, boxing, yoga, and meditation. It clears your mind and gets the blood to your brain circulating faster.