With some 70% of marketers increasing their influencer marketing budgets from 2018 to 2019, it’s no surprise that influencers are receiving more sponsorship offers than ever. And with pressure to also avoid oversaturating their feeds with #ad content, creators are becoming increasingly selective when deciding which brands to partner with – which, for brands, means that access to the top talent in the industry is getting more tricky to secure. 

Recent research from ACTIVATE found that over 85% of marketers have been turned down by an influencer at some stage for sponsorship offers.

The top reasons for those rejections were:

  • The influencer didn’t feel they were a fit for the brand
  • The influencer was involved with a competing brand
  • The influencer and marketer couldn’t agree on payment terms
  • The influencer simply wasn’t interested in the product or service.

With this in mind, brands and marketers now need to take a more strategic approach in their outreach tactics, and the value proposition they’re presenting to each influencer, in order to ensure that they’re appropriately positioning themselves to access the best digital talent available.

Here are three key tips to help brands maximize their influencer marketing efforts.

1. Make It Personal: Tailor Your Outreach

Many of us have heard about unfortunate instances where social media or influencer marketing managers have used highly impersonal, boilerplate outreach templates to reach out to creators.

We’ve even seen some creators take these faux pas to social, calling out these brands and agencies by name.

By tailoring your outreach measaging to each specific creator, and ensuring that your notes are personalized, marketers are likely to achieve more success connecting with a smaller pool of creators that mirror their brand values – rather than a more vague pool of influencers who exhibit little affinity for the brand.

Influencer Alexa Matthews of @eatingnyc shared her take on receiving vague pitches from marketers:

“If a message looks like it was copy/pasted, or doesn’t include my name, I typically won’t even respond! It’s important to partner with brands that are definitely interested in working together and have done their research.”

A key step is to first look for influencers who are already talking about your business, and be responsive to their organic coverage. When you do reach out to a creator, be direct around why you’re doing so, and what you have in mind for your partnership. It’s important to remember that influencers get a ton of emails and DMs, so by getting to the point you’re also being courteous with their time.

Influencers, at core, are incredible marketers. If you’re able to cohesively communicate the value of the partnership – why both the brand you represent and the influencer’s brand resonate – and how they could improve their brand by working together, you put yourself in the best position to move forward with a successful partnership.

2. Establish a Shared Value Proposition

Influencers are running a business, so of course, monetary compensation will often be an important factor. However, there are also plenty of ways beyond payment for brands to tap into and create opportunities which will garner attention from top creators.

Think about ways the creator can influence things, like the product or other aspects of your brand’s marketing. For top creators, a more well-rounded or longer-term partnership will be key to commanding attention, and will provide an additional incentive to moving forward with the partnership.

Another great strategy is to take a more focused approach towards what you’re offering the creator. Like your brand, they are constantly trying to grow their own brand awareness and get in front of a wider audience.

Try to consider ways you can weave them into your PR initiatives or events – what larger role can you offer them that will enable them to get in front of more faces and expand their own brand?

3. Your Influencers Should Mirror Your Brand and Its Values

Influencers want to align with brands that are representative of what they value, and how they position their own personal brands. If they feel a genuine offer is being made, it’s often the first consideration for them, as followers will readily identify and call out any partnership that doesn’t feel authentic.

Start by considering your brand’s values, as well as social commitments, and be sure to seek out creators that share those same principles.

Melanie Elturk, @hautehijab, influencer and founder of Haute Hijab has expressed how important this aspect of shared commitment is for her in a partnership: 

For me, and the greater work I do in normalizing the hijab, brands offer much more than monetary compensation. When they share my posts on their social channels, or even on their website, they’re helping me in my quest to normalize hijab in the mainstream. They’re facilitating the representation that means so much to the Muslim community and hijab-wearing women in particular.”

Brands should also seek creators which exhibit synergies, aesthetically and tonally.

Many creators attribute poor partnership experiences with brands to those businesses being overly controlling in terms of content style or aesthetic. Creators need to keep their own content consistent for their personal brands, so they can’t stray, aesthetically, for individual partnerships.

For this reason, brands should seek creators who have the target style, look and tone from the outset, then give the creator as much creative freedom as possible.

Influencer Coco Bassey @cocobassey, has cited strained creative freedom as a reason she’s had to turn down various partnership offers. 

I’ve also turned down offers that don’t respect my process as a creator – whether that be with too-short turnaround times, inadequate budget, or lack of creative freedom. A true partnership should be one that is mutually beneficial and a pleasant experience for all parties involved.”

When reaching out to creators, brands and marketers should strive to create a respectful, and mutually beneficial relationship from the outset. From initially reaching out to creators with authentic, dedicated messages to offering creative freedom throughout the entire process, the key takeaway should be to always consider creators and their business in the same way you work to promote your own brand.

As in any successful business relationship, being honest and authentic will lead to a long-lasting, synergistic relationship.

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