In today’s digital age, social media influencer marketing is an extremely powerful tool. Runway Influence CEO and serial entrepreneur, Ernest Sturm, was able to recognize the potential of influencer marketing early on, and strategically created a way to bridge the gap between top-tier influencer talent and premier brands across the globe.
“Travel has greatly impacted our company in many ways,” Sturm stated. “There is a substantial amount of elite influencer talent across the United States and in other countries, as well as companies we would love to work with.” Although Runway Influence is based in the United States and has a strong presence nationwide, they have many influencers in other countries, and have worked with prominent brands worldwide such as McLaren and Adidas.
Sturm on Runway Influence; his passion for travel; and his success as a young entrepreneur:
1. When did you first become an entrepreneur, and how did you get involved in the digital marketing space?
ES: I first became an entrepreneur at the age of 22. I was involved in the events space and found great success; however, I created Runway Influence 5 years ago when I realized the quick transition models were making from the fashion industry to social media marketing. After studying the industry for a while, I found that social media models have the capability to rapidly increase brand awareness through their ability to bring attention to the brand paired with the diverse makeup of their social media followings. These followings generally include prominent individuals such as investors, entrepreneurs, businessmen, designers, photographers, and the “shakers and movers” of the industry, if you will. From there, it was just a matter of pairing the most suitable talent with the right brands.
2. How does travel play a role in your businesses?
ES: Travel is an essential part of our business. We often work with influencers and brands located all around the world, and we work with influencers and brands from across the United States on a daily basis. I believe face to face meetings are the best way to get to know someone on a personal level, so we make an effort to conduct business meetings in person as much as we can- whether in California, other states, or other countries.
3. It seems the digital marketing industry is a highly competitive space. How does Runway Influence differentiate from the competition?
ES: Runway Influence sets itself apart from the competition by establishing personal relationships with every influencer we work with. To us, our influencers are not just a number on our roster, they are family. We speak to each of them on a regular basis and gather an in-depth understanding of their strengths and weaknesses which helps us to assemble the best team possible for our clients’ campaigns. We apply the same level of care to the brands we work with worldwide.
4. Has COVID-19 impacted Runway Influence due to lack of travel?
ES: Although we haven’t been able to travel outside of the United States for business, we’ve still been able to travel within the United States and hold digital conference calls for clients and influencers we are not able to meet with. We have achieved a company-record amount of growth during this pandemic and feel extremely grateful that we are able to grow and gain new clients during such a difficult time. In fact, our biggest month thus far has been July of 2020. I believe this is a result of the quarantine, as many people are stuck at home constantly checking their social media platforms, which has resulted in a substantial spike of users and a wave of traffic to many popular social media accounts. We took advantage this opportunity and delivered great results for our clients.
5. How do you handle conducting business with influencers and companies in different time zones across the world?
ES: Organization is key! Schedules often conflict, so it’s essential for my team and I to keep a precise calendar, especially with our clients and influencers overseas. Sometimes, time zones can be so different that I won’t get much sleep, and that’s just the way it has to be.
6. Do you believe it’s important for entrepreneurs to travel internationally?
ES: I believe it’s a must! There are so many different cities and cultures out there to experience which I think can really open your mind and expand the way you think. For me personally, travelling internationally has inspired me and has helped me to become more creative.
7. What does Runway Influence have in store for the future?
ES: We have many big plans for the future. Currently, we are expanding our network of both micro and macro influencers as well as getting involved in new industries. So far, we have found great success in the wellness, apparel, fashion, and beauty industries as well as medical, cosmetic, and beverage businesses. We want to continue to expand on these, and of course continue to travel internationally in the future.