With that context, your next consideration is key: What’s the incentive for this talented individual to work with you?
Know-How: Value Matters
If a blogger or influencer has made your cut, I’ll assume it’s because you’ve done your homework to select smart, talented creatives with reach to a community of people who will engage with your brand. That has value. Good influencers know they have something meaningful to offer, so a value exchange mindset will put you on the same page and establish a strong foundation for the relationship.
How-To: Establish an Equitable Partnership
An influencer will engage with a brand because the initial impression leaves them feeling valued and respected as a complement to the marketing mix. To gauge perceived value of the incentive you’re offering, try this litmus test. Consider each statement and note the ones that apply.
- Affiliation with my brand / product / service / experience is highly coveted.
- Exposure for / driving traffic to the influencer is a big incentive.
- I’m offering product to be photographed and reviewed, but I need the product returned to me once that’s done.
- I have detailed editorial direction, copy and images that will make it easy for the influencer to execute.
If two or more of these statements apply, rethink the offer by putting yourself in the mind of an influencer and consider (as objectively as possible) these questions:
- Is this a brand I’m excited about and stand behind?
- Are they offering something valuable and meaningful to my followers? (Influencers care about their followers, sometimes ahead of themselves.)
- Do I want to work with the people who are representing the brand?
- Is the value of working with this brand equal to or greater than the opportunity cost?
- Are they trusting and empowering me to apply my voice to their message?
An influencer who answers “yes” to these questions is likely to be your best partner and achieve results that exceed your expectations. Establishing an equitable partnership is the first step toward building an enduring, mutually beneficial relationship.
Know-How: Reach Matters
There’s a category of bloggers and influencers who won’t consider any pitch unless there’s cash attached. Chances are you can spot these folks, but here are a few questions that will help:
- Does their “contact” page list the name of an agent or agency?
- Does their “work with me” page give a fee structure or explicitly state they require cash compensation for sponsored content?
- Do they have a 6-figure (or more) following on any of their social channels (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)?
- Do they have a high percentage of posts sponsored by big brands or featuring luxe items that were gifted?
If the answer is “yes” for two or more of these questions, odds are you’re looking at an influencer whose reach commands a high level of compensation.
How-To: Be Thoughtful About Overreaching
Unless you have cash or a coveted product, service or experience, think twice before approaching an influencer that may be out of reach for your budget. An “it never hurts to ask” attitude is great, but not the right approach if your inquiry leaves a negative first impression.
If you have something to offer that’s in line with the status of a high-reach influencer, be explicit in your pitch. If you’re unsure, start the dialog by asking what they charge for the content and/or commitment you’re seeking. Keep in mind these people get a lot of inquiries. Make yours stand out.
Know-How: Community Matters
Bloggers and influencers form peer networks. They talk to each other. They meet at events and conferences, connect through private online forums and frequent one another’s blog. Most are very collaborative and supportive of others in their space. When a bad pitch goes out, they talk about it. When a brand is great to work with, they talk about it. As you might expect, word of mouth spreads quickly among peer groups of influencers.
More often than not, the best people to work with are those who believe that elevating and collaborating with others ultimately serves their own business interests. Tapping into those communities—in a very thoughtful way—can really amplify your message.
How-To: Be Fair
If you’re reaching out to a peer group of influencers, come up with an incentive package that feels fair and equitable for the group and extend the same offer to all. If some individuals ask for more, think carefully about how that will be perceived if the others learn they’re getting less.
I’ve had situations where a group of bloggers have accepted an offer, then one blogger asks for higher compensation and elevated exposure through brand channels. Even if that’s merited, giving some more than others may be perceived as unfair, and has the potential to create bad blood if word gets out.
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I hope this gives you a good foundation for thinking about incentives and welcome additional insight from others with experience building strong brand+influencer relationships!
SPECIAL THANKS to all the influencers who shared their experiences and perspectives. Your insight and honestly never ceases to amaze me. (And your stories crack me up.)
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