Influencer marketing has become more common in marketing strategies for both large and small companies. Being able to influence your audience’s purchase behaviour is often dependent on your ability to connect with the right people. Whether paid or not, having a blogger or celebrity with a huge following mention your product increases your visibility greatly. What could be better than a HUGE celebrity endorsing your product? How about multiple influencers with smaller followings endorsing your product?

It can be tempting to get caught up in the “bigger is better” perspective when it comes to influence, but that can lead to pricey campaigns that are less than authentic (hello Fyre Festival!). It can also lead to terrible brand partnerships where the endorsement has a negative effect on your brand.

Here are five steps to make sure you don’t get stuck with a bad influencer partnership that costs you more than you gain.

Step 1: Decide What You Want to Achieve

Any marketing tactic you set out to do should be based on your overall business goals. Are you looking to build brand awareness? Generate sales? Build your own brand community? Once you figure out what you want to achieve, ask yourself how working with influencers fits in with those goals. Of course, you also need to lay out your budget for this project. Keep in mind that shipping costs can add up. Also, if you decide you want to work with a celebrity you will likely need to have the money to back it up considering how ONE Instagram post from a celebrity can cost six figures.

Step 2: Define Your Audience

You might know who your overall audience is for your brand, but does it make sense to reach out to that entire audience for this influencer campaign? Often, it makes most sense to stick to a smaller niche where you can segment your audience and connect with more targeted influencers.

Step 3: What’s Your Story

This is one of the most important parts about an influencer campaign. While influencers will take the story and make it their own, you need to plant the seed when you are pitching. Figure out why your story is so interesting and focus on that. In some cases, certain influencers may have worked with competitors in the past. How can you differentiate your pitch from what they had to offer?

Step 4: Figure Out Who’s Who

Do your research to create a list of influencers who target the same audience you want to hit. This will be the most time-consuming part of your campaign because you want to make sure you get it right. Start by noting if any celebrities or influencers have used similar products before, or perhaps you were lucky enough to get noticed before this campaign. Be sure to include those names on your list. Once you have found a list of influencers (and their contact information!), break it down into tiers. If you are working with a smaller budget, you won’t be able to hit up everyone, so you should start out with your top tier contacts and work your way down. If you are working with a smaller budget, you also may have to make some decisions related to how many paid opportunities you can afford.

Before even thinking about reaching out, check out their latest blog posts to make sure it’s a good fit still. Most influencers will have clear instructions how to reach out if you are pitching them, so take notes.

Step 4: Measuring Success

Who doesn’t like thinking about success before it happens? Not only does it feel good, but it’s also practical. In order to recognize what a successful campaign is, figure out how you will measure success. Some metrics to consider are number of hits, purchases (can easily be tracked using special codes for online purchases), or incoming inquiries about your product/services.

Step 5: Build Relationships

You should always look at your influencer outreach as a long-term investment. Once you can think beyond individual campaigns, you will start to focus on building relationships with influencers. That means your next pitch might get an even faster response if they liked working with you.

In the same way “work smarter, not harder” are great words to live by, you should follow the “bigger isn’t always better” rule when it comes to influence.

A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird marketing Communications Blog.