Influencers – How to work with brands

I am lucky enough to have been on both sides of the coin when it comes to influencer marketing. I have been on the influencer side and brand side! I wanted to share the way I have worked with brands in the past. These are things that worked for me, and depending on the industry, you may need to change or tweak them. 

I will be approaching this as a blogger and not an Instagram influencer. So keep that in mind when you are reading this post. 

Approaching brands 

I have approached brands of all sizes when doing blogging — I have contacted the biggest in an industry down to mom and pop operations. No matter the size of the brand, I would always introduce myself gave background to my blog and the basic stats (unique visitors, time on site, social stats, and how long I have been blogging). The initial email wouldn’t mention free products or discounts. 

My main goal was exposing readers to new brands. I wasn’t after scoring free products or a discount. I kept this until I had developed a relationship.  

Express in your email what your goal is from the beginning. Talk about their brand and what you love about it and how it would resonate with your readers. You may not get everything you want from that initial email, but any contact and information is a win. You can grow the relationship into something bigger. 

When contacting brands, don’t get upset if a brand doesn’t get back to you or says no thank you. The brand may not be ready for influencer marketing or may have people they already work with regularly. Don’t go on social or the blog and bad mouth a brand. Never burn a bridge when you don’t have too. I have had brands I have emailed, and months later followed up or contacted me out of the blue. 

Brands contacting you 

As you grow your audience, brands will take notice of you and start to contact you out of the blue. Just like above, when you talk to them, spell out what your objectives are in working with a brand. Remember, not all brands will be a fit for your blog. I have found, if it’s not a fit, recommend other blogs/influencers who’s audience is in line with the brand and who is open to working with them. 

When brands contact you, either those just starting to work with influencers to a brand that has well-established guidelines. In the first few emails, the brand should spell out what they are after, and you can judge if you are a good fit. Share with them the info they want and, if possible, create a media kit for your site. A media kit can be one sheet with all your essential stats and rates on the card. This is super helpful to a brand. If you are industrious, you can create a more in-depth media kit to go into details on what you do and how you do it. See my post that goes over media kits

I always try to be helpful because your reputation goes a long way. If a brand knows you can help them, they will, in turn, help you back. 

Building a relationship with a brand 

My main goal in working with brands was to have an ongoing relationship with them. Sometimes this happens, and other times it doesn’t. There are many reasons why, such as point of contact changing, brand goals shifting, and etc. 

Here is how I develop a relationship with a brand:

  • Get on a regular schedule to send out emails – Send regular emails to check-in and ask if they needed any help promoting products. 
  • If the brand doesn’t respond to your email – If I sent an email and there was no response, I would be persistent and follow up a week later. Don’t be pushy or rude, just be persistent. 
  • Attend trade shows and get face time with brands – This has been invaluable to me. When a person meets you face to face, the relationship tends to be stronger. Well, that’s been my opinion. I have gone to shows by being press or as a guest of a brand. Note, if you’re going as a guest of a brand, make sure you respect their generosity. Most brands that got me in as a guest were more than happy to have me talk to other brands and grow my blog. This helped them as much as it helped me. 
  • Respect any insider info – If a company shares information about upcoming product releases, keep it confidential. I did this even if I was not on a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Ask them when you can talk about it. Sometimes they will give you an exclusive and other time they may want you to wait to share after it’s released. This shows they trust you and value the relationship. 
  • Take an interest in their brand – If it’s a brand you want to work with more or love to work with, keep up with the news on the company. If they have a great quarter or do something amazing in the press, email them and congratulate them. 

The main thing to build a relationship is communication. Communication comes from both the brand and the influencer.

I hope you found this helpful. I will be doing several podcasts on influencers because there is so much to discuss. This post and my other post I keep having those moments where I got, oh I should have put this in or that in. 

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

Leave a Reply