Influencer marketing is hitting a dead end

Mark Schaefer
5 min readFeb 12, 2024

One of my clients built his business entirely on influencer marketing. His revenue has grown explosively through a combination of both paid and organic relationships with powerful influencers who specialize in “un-boxing” and product reviews. “We’re in trouble,” he told me. “Influencer marketing is hitting a dead end. It’s crashing everywhere.”

He explained a consistent pattern he’s seeing among the most successful influencers:

  • They start as passionate creators, enthusiastically publishing content about products and people they love and believe in.
  • The creators build a loyal audience due to the quality of their content and fair product reviews.
  • Once their audience hits critical mass, brands notice and begin to offer money for exclusive sponsorship deals. Of course, this is what they’ve been waiting for — the payoff for all their hard work.
  • Their revenue is now tied to promoting products, not delivering fair reviews. They become more limited in what they can talk about. And they can’t stop or even take a break. There are no days off. The content has to keep coming every day, without excuse. The passionate hobby has become an unforgiving treadmill.
  • Eventually, the influencer burns out and stops publishing “to take a mental health break.”



Mark Schaefer

Keynote speaker, marketing strategy consultant, Rutgers U faculty and author of 10 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Belonging to the Brand!