I’ve been working with brands for over 5 years, and I’ve seen the landscape change. When I started, brand-blogger relationships were just starting to grow. We saw more sponsored content on blogs, YouTube, and social media — probably because that’s when sponsored content started to actually be declared, but this is for another post entirely!
Today, the market is saturated. Not only with influencers, but also with brands. After having worked with brands big and small steadily for the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about brand-blogger relationships, what brands do wrong, and what they do right. I’d love to share it all with you so you can have more fruitful brand collaborations, and both sides can win.
Brutal Honestly #1: The Market Is Saturated With Brands Like Yours
As a brand, you might feel like you have the upper hand in a brand-blogger exchange, since there are hundreds of influencers for you to approach, and you’re the only brand. But the truth is, there are hundreds of brands just like yours that are approaching those same influencers.
As a brand that isn’t yet established, unless you have an amazing product AND killer professional branding AND know how to approach influencers with tact and kindness, your brand is (most likely) not special to the influencers you’re approaching. Chances are, they won’t be tripping over themselves for “free product”.
Brutal Honesty #2: Free Product Is No Longer Enough
Of course, this depends on the size of the blogger or influencer you’re approaching. It’s still common for bloggers to receive free product in exchange for a review, especially at the “nano-influencer” level. Smaller influencers might be okay with this practice, but if you’re looking for bigger exposure, you’re most likely looking at a paid collaboration.
Brutal Honesty #3: If You Send Free Product, Don’t Expect Paid Work Or Exposure In Return
Influencers have no obligation to post about your product. Not all products are for everyone, and bloggers don’t love every single product they receive. If we don’t like your product, it would be unethical to promote it to our audience.
Most bloggers and influencers operate like this: they receive a pool of products from different brands and PR, and they select their favorites to talk about. If you’re sending free product only without a paid collaboration, you’re competing against the big brands to be included.
Blogging might be our job, but giving a product exposure is work: photoshoots and photo-editing take hours, not to mention everything else that goes into creating content. This is why we have to choose the brands and products we mention wisely. Is our audience interested in them? Is it a new launch from a popular brand? Is it an exceptional product?
How To Approach Influencers Without Getting Ignored
Almost all brands that pitch bloggers make the same awful pitch which basically boils down to:
Hi, wanna promote my brand for free? I can send goodies! Let me know. My brand is really great.Newbie Influencer Marketer
Avoid their mistakes and you’ll stand out from the crowd.
1. Ask yourself: Is this a mutually beneficial collaboration?
I’m not saying this applies to everyone, but some brand owners tend to see influencers as tools to help their business grow. The reality is, a brand-blogger relationship should serve both parties. Let me stress this: both the brand and the influencer should be getting value from this.
If you represent a big brand, influencers can get value from PR samples alone, as long as the product they’re receiving is an anticipated one. In that case, they’re getting clicks and views because they’re the ones reviewing a hot new product people are looking for.
If you’re not an established brand, take a step back and be as objective as possible. What’s in it for the influencer? Considering the number of followers they have, do they really care about a free product from your brand? Smaller influencers might, but this could be a minority of the bloggers you want to work with. Which brings us to paid collaborations.
2. Appreciate the influencer’s unique strengths and the audience they can bring you
Unless you’re new to influencer marketing, you know by now that not all influencers are the same and bring you the same value. There are several things to consider when choosing influencers to work with:
- Following vs. engagement. Some influencers have a huge following, but low engagement and therefore low conversions. Some have a smaller following, but high engagement.
- Target audience. Some influencers have audiences that align with your target customer much better than others.
- Unique skills. Some influencers have specific talents, whether it’s making creative content, taking professional photography, or being honest and raw with their audience.
If you choose your partnerships wisely, you will find influencers that are a perfect fit for your product, and bring your business a lot of value. In which case, it’s worth to move past a “free product” collaboration and offer a paid one.
3. Set aside a budget for influencer marketing (unless you’re pitching very small influencers)
Depending on the size of the influencers you’re choosing, you may or may not need a budget. Influencers are often classified based on the size of their following:
- Mega-Influencer: 1M followers or more.
- Macro-Influencer: 100k to 1M followers.
- Micro-Influencer: 10k to 100k followers.
- Nano-Influencers: 10k followers or under.
If you’re looking for micro-influencers (or influencers with even larger followings) and you’re a new brand, chances are you’ll need a budget. The general rule of thumb for an Instagram post is $100 per 10,000 followers, though these numbers are only a loose guideline.
4. Crafting your pitch.
First, 99% of brands focus on themselves when pitching. Their pitch mostly consists of explaining the influencer what makes their brand so great. I’ve received emails that go on for paragraphs about the brand. This is not an effective approach.
Instead, center your pitch around the blogger or influencer. Why did you reach out to them, among a sea of influencers? What makes them a great fit for your brand? What values do you share with them? What do you like about their unique strengths and skills as an influencer? In other words, why would this collaboration be great?
You’re a lot more likely to get a response with this simple shift. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t include anything about your brand, but keep it to a bare minimum. Once sentence about your brand is more than enough, because your profile or website speak for themselves.
Second, don’t assume that every influencer will collaborate for free product. The only instance where opening with “free product” could be acceptable is if you’re dealing with a smaller “nano-influencer”.
If you don’t want to offer money right off the bat, keep it open-ended. Instead of asking them if they want to review your product for free, ask them if they’re interested in collaborating with you. If you’re prepared to pay for a collaboration, ask them for their rate or media kit.
I hope this helped you craft a perfect pitch, and maintain better relationships with bloggers and influencers. If you have any questions, please leave them below and I’ll do my best to respond.