5 Tips for Successfully Approaching Brands

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Yesterday I participated in a webinar for brands on identifying & working with social (media) influencers. This included bloggers of course, and I shared some of my experiences as a blogger/influencer working with various brands in different capacities. The brands had so many questions about how to work with influencers that I left with enough ideas to last me for a few weeks of IFB posts! More than anything, I realized that no matter how much it might seem that ‘every’ brand out there has a grip on working with bloggers, many in fact have no clue where to start.

There are a ton of ways brands and influencers can find each other, and bloggers are creative and driven enough to proactively pursue brands they’d like to work with. However, most brands seem to make the first move! Before working through the process and pulling together tools (i.e. media kit) you need to pitch brands, here are a few things to think about on how bloggers can work with brands. I gave these very same points as advice to brands in how they can work with influencers – but on the flip side, these concepts are just as important to making that partnership work.

Do your research

Study the brands you want to work with. What are the brand’s core values and target audience? How have they worked with bloggers already, if at all? Which bloggers have they worked with? Just like brands should work only with bloggers that resonate with their audience, bloggers should research and determine whether or not a brand will truly resonate with their readers. If you’re frequently posting about savvy shopping and thrifted outfits, your readers might not take well if you begin pursuing brand partnerships with high-end designers.

Creative customization

Flex your creative muscles and pitch brands with a few ideas of ways you can work together. Show them your passion for their brand, loop in some site and social media stats (or perhaps your full media kit) and design a custom experience that speaks very much to their brand as much as it does to your editorial creativity. That could mean ideas around events hosted by you, speaking or writing opportunities for their YouTube channel or blog, a group partnership with fellow bloggers, or sample product loaned for a fun editorial shoot.

Be patient

Just like any other relationship, working with brands take time to build trust and credibility. You might approach a brand with a few really great ideas, but none of them work for the current collection or marketing campaign they’re in the midst of. Be patient, and keep in communication as much as you gracefully can.

Specify your goals

Be crystal clear about why your blog is a perfect platform for a brand to reach an audience they’d like to reach – and how you’ll accomplish their goals as well as yours. The people representing brands are professionals, and when they enter into contracts or partnership, they expect professionalism from the other party.

Keep it real

By that, I mean realistic. We all have our dream brand list, right? Just because you might never get a response from some of our dream brands doesn’t mean you aren’t fit to work with brands at all. Think about all the brands you use, not just the ones you want to work with. Think beyond clothing lines and into skincare, beauty, household, home decor and food or beverage brands as well. Shoot for the stars, but expand your universe too!

What other key tips do you have in thinking about working with brands? Share them in the comments!

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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16 Responses

  1. Jess Zimlich

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I have a question though, I’ve reached out to brands in the past and they’ve answered by saying they don’t work with bloggers or don’t offer compensation, etc. The weird thing is, I’ve seen them partner with bloggers who have stated they received compensation for the post. What gives?

    Reply
    • Jess Estrada

      Hard to say, Jess! Such a bummer to get pushback like that when it’s unclear. The brand may have tried it in the past & decided not to continue with their blogger program going forward. Or it may have been one department (i.e. the marketing team)’s campaign, and the department you’re in contact with (i.e. the brand’s PR rep or outside PR firm) wasn’t aware of the blogger work. I hate to put this out there as a possible scenario, but the blogger themselves might not have been truly honest about compensation. See this Fashionista article, and Ashe’s excellent follow up post underneath:

      http://fashionista.com/2013/01/bloggers-fake-free-swag#awesm=~oIdHZnQRyGnhZT

      https://heartifb.com/2013/02/11/blogger-integrity-swag-accountability-disclosures/

      Reply
    • Brooke Creech

      Jess, Something I’ve noticed over the years is that brands sometimes don’t work with bloggers DIRECTLY, but do offer campaigns through companies like Social Fabric. They may have just meant they don’t do that direct work.

      Reply
      • Jess Estrada

        Very true! I’m signed to Social Fabric as well as other affiliate networks – but those are for opportunities that are presented to me (to apply for.) This post was meant more for the proactive blogger approach in reaching out to brands first. If brands prefer to work through a network like Social Fabric, ideally they’d let the blogger know in response, then that blogger can sign up for the network if they are so inclined. Thanks for reading!

      • Jess Estrada

        …and then I realized you probably meant the other Jess 🙂

  2. Onianwah

    Ah, the big question about brand partnership. It has been an up and down path for me especially with the indigenous brands here. I am not deterred though and sometimes they do annoy me especially when they collaborate with bloggers i know are not as knowledgeable about the brand as I am. But, o well, I love to blog about makeup so I do it anyways.

    Barbara
    http://www.barbara1923.com
    Lagos, Nigeria

    Reply
    • Jess Estrada

      Great perspective! Sometimes brands choose to work with bloggers because they know them personally (they’re friends) – even when they’re not as knowledgable or capable as other bloggers!

      Reply
  3. Tiffany

    Great tips! I try to do as much research as possible on the brands I am interested in working with not only to be sure I am a good fit for them but that tehy are a good fit me and my personal brand as well.

    Reply
    • Jess Estrada

      You’re on the right track : ) Thanks for reading, Tiffany!

      Reply
  4. Anastasia

    I personally think that the last point is a key point. If you run a little/middle sized blog, there will be simply no reasons for a big -name -brand to collaborate with you, both because of the traffic and “image” reasons. But once you gather a bunch of collaboration with other brands, no “dream” ones, your blog gaines a certain level which can get you closer to dream brands! At least, I think so.
    xx
    http://fashionpeekaboo.com

    Reply
  5. Nancy

    Thanks for the tips! We’ve only officially launched our blog last week but it never hurts to have a goal and prepare for the future! Will definitely keep this in mind 🙂

    http://whimsicalsoles.com

    Reply
  6. olga

    I have received an instagram direct offer/question from one of the great brands specializing in woman’s dressing (they are selling their collections at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom), and I answered that I would really love to collaborate, and that it would be great, but haven’t received anything from them for about 4 weeks. What should I do, how to approach them ? I would appreciate your advise, I have -0- experience in working with any brands.
    Thank you!
    Olga

    Reply
    • Jess Estrada

      Hi Olga,

      It wouldn’t hurt to follow-up your last email with a “Hi, just checking in…” email. Brands get busy and sometimes it could take weeks of correspondence with them to get something going. If they’re a brand you’re really into, they’re worth checking in on every few weeks (or until you get a response.) Hope this helps!

      Reply