Pitching brands as an influencer and content creator comes with a great deal of strategy, and many people don’t do it correctly. As an in-house influencer marketing manager, I get requests from influencers constantly. In fact, with the market becoming increasingly saturated with influencers, brands really have their pick. If one doesn’t work out, it’s not hard to find a “lookalike” who may even do the same SOW at a fraction of the cost. With this in mind, it’s important to communicate your value at the onset, and really make an impact when reaching out to brands.
Here are some tips on how to stand out to your brand partners:
1. Do your homework
Of the influencer requests I do get, most of them are general email blasts, some are more personalized (and by personalized I mean they are addressed to me and have the name of my brand subbed in), but rarely do I ever get an influencer email that shows actual knowledge and interest in our marketing communications. And I know it takes a lot of hustle and effort to secure these sponsorships, but when there are dollars on the line, one would hope that influencers would take the extra step to become familiar with the brand they are asking to partner with. An easy first step is to take a look at the brand’s social channels — do they have any branded hashtags they are promoting? What type of content do they feature? Based on other tagged influencer photos, what kinds of content are they seeking to curate? Think of it like a job interview, and reach out earnestly. Being able to show even the slightest understanding of what a brand stands for, and how that aligns with your content, will provide a huge leg-up when reaching out.
2. Lead with insights
A lot of time when influencers are pitching themselves to me, they’ll lead with their follower counts and amazing feeds. At one point, these were key qualifiers for partnerships but today, these are prerequisites. Instead of showing what you have, show what you can provide. A great way to convey this message is through insights and data. What is your post engagement rate and how does that compare to your sponsored content rate? How many instagram story swipe ups do you get on average? Who is your audience, and how do they align with the brand’s community? Do you have metrics from previous campaigns that you’ve worked on? Brands want to make sure that their investments are working hard for them, and the more data that you can provide to show that value, the better.
3. Be a good partner
Good partnership and open communication are what turn great collaborations into repeat ones. There have been countless times when influencers have signed on a scope and then completely went radio silent until the content due date at which point, they either deliver something completely off-brief or ask for an extension. It is mutually beneficial for both parties for the content to come out right the first time, so never hesitate to ask questions and stay in close contact with your brand partners as things come up. More likely than not, it’s in the brand’s best interest to make it work with you, rather than terminate your partnership and rebrief someone new mid-campaign.
As this industry continues to evolve, one thing will always remain true: great influencer marketing is rooted in relationship-building. In my career to date, the best partnerships I’ve had were ones where brand and influencer shared a great understanding of each other’s values and messages. This need for influencers isn’t going away anytime soon, so we should feel encouraged to collaborate more genuinely, and not seek opportunities in desperation. The more open and honest that both sides can be toward each other, the more fruitful and creative our work will be.
This piece was written by TT Tu, a brand marketer whose work focuses on social media strategy, influencer marketing, and integrated content production, with a heavy emphasis on retail and consumer products. Follow him on Instagram or on LinkedIn for more!