Eight strategies for pitching to brands

Eight strategies for pitching to brands

by Gordon Glenister, global head of influencer marketing at the BCMA

Why it’s important to pitch to brands

Build it and they will come. It’s a well known expression, but nowadays it’s not enough to have the best product – you’ve got to have the best pitch. Suki Thompson, CEO of Let’sReset, says Agencies and creators need to be very clear about their proposition when they pitch to brands. They need to clearly demonstrate what they can offer and how they can deliver it safely and effectively during these unprecedented times. We are all in the same storm but individuals and brands have different sized boats, so agencies and creators need to know how to work collaboratively to navigate their way through the storm.

Understand your potential client’s needs

This isn’t rocket science, but some of the best presentations and pitches fail to convert because they are not specifically matching a problem. The reality is customers really don’t care about you they care about themselves. Ideally, if there is a way you can find out more from a brand, follow their Instagram, Twitter and YouTube profiles. Take notice of what they are doing and sharing. People give a lot of information on social media and their websites. 

Even when you are in early stage conversations, listen to everything and gather as much information as possible. This will enable you to tailor your pitch to help the client deliver on their objectives. Compile a number of ‘open’ questions ahead of a pitch. What are you trying to achieve with a brand collaboration or campaign? Make sure you understand the brand’s purpose and mission.

Reach out on social media

One of the things you want to do is to have a high quality and relevant network of targeted clients. I often look at the speakers at a conference I’m also speaking at and reach out to them on social media, normally LinkedIn, to set up a meeting.  I have met numerous people this way. If you’re going to be a successful influencer you need to be your biggest cheerleader. Creating amazing content isn’t enough on its own, you also need to be confident in selling and pitching yourself to brands. 

If you are looking to reach out to a brand, don’t email an info inbox hoping for a response. Rosalind Weinberg, founder of the Influencers Diary, says that before approaching brands you should figure out whether your content and audience align with the brand’s target market. If your content is mainly minimal fashion and luxury high street pieces, and your audience is mainly female, a brand like Reiss would be the perfect fit but Primark probably wouldn’t.

Make your email personal and include a print screen of your audience analytics to prove that what you’re saying about your followers is true. Brands only really care about three things – where your followers are based, their age range and the gender split. If you have an Instagram business account, this is all provided for you. Also make sure you don’t overuse Influencer language that some brands don’t know about like ‘Shout outs’.

An example direct email/message pitch could look like this

Hey Xxx (make sure you know the right person to contact)  

Ive used Xxx for some time now and it has worked really well for my skin. I particularly like your acne fighting gel aloe and your acne fighting foundation.  I know your audience is 100% female entrepreneurs who love your products.

My blog XX.com achieves over 43,000 average views per month with a 30% engagement rate and my Instagram @Xxx has about 6% engagement, generating thousands of views per month.

With summer ending soon, I would love to share your products with my readers on repairing sun damage. In fact, I already shared one of your posts on my Instagram recently and got some very positive feedback.

I would love to partner with you perhaps if you have a new product launch or a potential promotion we could work together on. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a look at my social media handles so you can see an example of some of the way I support my community and brands.

     Personal sign off

Establish rapport and trust

Cold calling is harder and harder, so finding mutual friends who can connect you with the right person is helpful. Sometimes my best work has come from people who initially turned me down but, after I built a rapport with them, wanted to do something with me. Remember that on average it takes six touch points to convert a prospect into a paying customer . You need to make sure you mirror the style of your target, so if you are super casually dressed and invited to a meeting in a bank you may need to reconsider how you look and dress. If this is online then make sure you have an appropriate background for the camera, it’s amazing what your background can say about you. 

Be mindful that you need to give people time to consider proposals, so don’t hound them two days after you’ve made the pitch. Also be aware of any changes to the business that might impact the success of your pitch. I once made the error of beginning a pitch to an agency without realising that the CEO had let go of a lot of staff that week. Whilst he was interested in what I had to say his mindset was not there.

Make sure that when you have an online or face-to-face meeting you take notes so that you can paraphrase exactly what you’ve heard, the follow up steps and your deadline to deliver.

Acknowledge their pain points

Remind the brand of their current challenges – from what they’ve told you and from what you believe is a pain point they don’t know they have. For example, where competitors are performing better than them.

It’s common for agencies to have pitch decks and influencers to have media kits. Have a real hard look at yours and make sure you include case studies, your key skills (target markets, brands worked with, accreditations, imagery showing likes/comments) and a little about your personal story.  Show your average likes, reach, subscribers and engagement rate. If you are worried your numbers are low, look at different ways to show your impact. It might be worth offering some pro-bono work with a leading brand to get a superb case study you can use. If you can personalise the deck to each pitch, even better. Remember, above all, what your USP- unique selling proposition – is.

You are going to tell a brand story in your unique way, so don’t forget that. No one can tell it like you can. During your pitch, it’s very important that you also come up with ideas of how a campaign may work. This shows you are listening to them and already excited for the collaboration. You could prepare an example post for them with a watermark (SAMPLE) over it so they can’t use it without your permission.

Have a supportive team

In Justin Cohens book, Pitch to Win, he refers to the fact that rarely is a pitch won by one person alone. The chances are that if you’ve had kick back from a pitch, others maybe able to give you some valuable feedback or help you refine the pitch deck. The most successful pitchers have heard no more times than anyone else. A series of failed pitches can be very disheartening, so having people around you that support you is very important. I’ve increasingly been asked to mentor people which I have to say is very rewarding. Sometimes all we need is someone who will tell us where we are going wrong.

Respond to pitch requests

I heard a stat recently suggesting that 65% of inbound pitches to content creators are ignored. I was alarmed at that. I know that some content creators are super busy, but it takes nothing to send a response back to someone to say thank you and politely decline.

 Just as you may be pitching to brands, take notice of how they pitch to you, what is it you like and what is it you don’t like.  Refine your pitches to reflect this. Also bare in mind the person you ignored may be well connected to other people who you would like to work with.

Be sure of your value

This is a big one. Some creators over-sell themselves but the vast majority UNDER-sell themselves.  I’ve been impressed by many creators I have met who are multi-talented. They offer so many skills and operate more like a boutique design agency, yet don’t charge like one. On average the cost of a TV commercial for a major brand can be from £25,000-£250,000 and sometimes more. Brands want sales, so what you can do is show them the impact a call to action on your Instagram or blog can have. This will give them an idea of the sales value you provide, alongside the content value.  Here’s is an example of a range of services a typical blogger might do in their day job that a brand not using you would typically outsource:

  • Average cost of a photographer is £50-100 per hour, plus travel costs

Average cost of videographer is £350-650 per day, plus travel costs

Average cost of a copywriter is £342 per day

Average cost of a community manager is £17.30 per hour

Average cost of a producer (of content) is £17 per hour

Average cost to build a small ecommerce website is from £1000-2500

Average cost to buy data for company name and address, contact person and their function – from 10p and +15p for email address

If your customer wasn’t using a blogger they would have to consider many of these costs, so remember your value, speed and professionalism.  

Try and get the brand to give you a budget. You could approach this by breaking down each task and providing a cost estimate for each. Remember to always have a ‘gold bar’ option up your sleeve, something you know the brand really wants.  For example, you could explain that for the price they suggest you can do two posts and one story on Instagram but for a slightly higher price you can do that plus a one minute YouTube video and blog post. You could even offer to survey your followers and give a whole range of feedback on their products or services.

ABC – Always be closing

One of the biggest challenges that many have is closing the deal and creating urgency. The call to action is the most important part of this process. An objection to your proposal is often disguised as a request for more information. It’s not that they don’t want to work with you but there is something that has created uncertainty in your pitch, which is why you should always offer a way to continue the conversation. For example:

  • How do you see us moving forwards
  • Have I answered all your questions? What might still need to clarified for us to move forwards?
  • I have a availability to do this but I am also waiting on another campaign, when will you be able to let me know?
  • If you want it for that price, then I will need to reduce to 1 Instagram post or you will need to increase the affiliate commission to 15%

Lastly, enter Pitch Influence, our global competition that gives you the opportunity to record a one minute video pitch on why a brand should work with you. For more information vsit the BCMA website.

Gordon Glennister, BCMA founder
Gordon Glenister is the founder and global head of influencer marketing at BCMA Influence – part of the Branded Content Marketing Association – whose aims are to promote the value of influencer marketing through its global network and to create a hub of best practice for the industry at large.

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