The Spark Show Episode 19: How to Seal the Brand Deal

How to Seal the Brand Deal

the spark show Aug 05, 2019

In this episode, I’ll be talking to you about how to seal those brand deals so that you can start working with brands regardless of how many followers you have. I absolutely LOVE helping influencers monetize. Why? Because I believe it’s hard work, creating content, building an audience, showing up every single day. It’s more than a job, because it’s something you live and breathe. It’s a calling and a purpose and I believe that influencers deserve to get paid for their creativity and the work that you do. 

I talked about the specifics of a brand deal in Episode 16 so if you haven’t listened to that yet, make sure you do so! I talk about the difference between a collaboration vs a sponsorship and what that looks like. 

In this episode, I want to talk more about how to work with brands through the only two ways you can really work with brands. And that’s to ATTRACT or PITCH to brands. 

Attraction 

Let's talk about the first one. ATTRACTION - I’m a big believer of the law of attraction and I do believe that if you set your intentions that you will attract the right things to you, and that includes brands. 

So how do you attract brands? You can attract brands by showing up consistently and making sure your ABCs are all aligned and clear. What I’m calling The ABCs are your AUDIENCE, BRANDING and CONTENT and these are the 3 things that you need to make sure are optimized so that you are ready to work with brands. 

First, you need to make sure your AUDIENCE is clearly defined. This means that you know who this is and the brands who land on your channels know who it is. It needs to be clear within a few seconds. You want to make sure this is super, super clear on your website or blog, your Instagram profile. If it’s not clear, spend some time working on this because this is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Audience first is the key. 

Next, your branding needs to shine. This means that you are sharing your story, your unique personality, your values and what you believe in. Brands need to see how you are unique and what makes you different from every other influencer out there. The thing is, you are already unique because no one has the exact same story as you. You just have to make sure that’s communicated to brands through your content. 

And that’s the “C” in the ABCs of Influence. Your CONTENT is what’s going to set you apart from everyone else, the way you communicate and engage with your audience. If you don’t have a content strategy and plan in mind - that’s going to translate to brands. Brands are looking for influencers who are intentional and creative with their content because they’re judging and making a decision based on the content that you’re putting out there. It gives them a glimpse of what the branded content you would create for them would look like. 

So let’s say the ABCs are good - audience, branding and content. The next thing is you want to make sure your profile is optimized and in this episode, I’m going to talk to you specifically about Instagram because most brands are looking and searching for influencers on Instagram. You want make sure your profile is optimized and there are 3 ways you can do this, which are the different ways people search on Instagram. 

#1 Keywords

This is how people can find you through the search tool. For example, if their searching for a fitness blogger, they would type in “fitness blogger” so you want to make sure this is in your username or name on your profile. You want to include keywords that brands would use to find you on your profile.

I want you to go ahead and test this out for yourself on Instagram and think of the keywords that a brand would use to find an influencer. For example: “LA lifestyle blogger” is one way brands have found me before. We’ll talk more about location in a second because that’s one of the different ways. So you gotta do some brainstorming and research on how brands can find you. 

#2 Hashtags

Brands use hashtags to find influencers too so make sure you’re using hashtags that a brand would use to find you. This could be the same as the keywords you put on your profile, but make sure you’re using it in your posts and even stories. A lot of influencers forget that Instagram Stories are also searchable via hashtags so take the time to add hashtags to all your posts and stories. 

#3 Location

Some brands plan campaigns by market and location. This means that they can be targeting influencers through their location so you have to make sure you can be found through your location. This can be in your keywords on your profile, location hashtags or by using the geotagging location on your posts. 

Those are the 3 ways you can optimize your Instagram profile and channel to attract brands who are already looking to work with influencers.

I want you to start implementing this right away on your channel and I wouldn’t be surprised if brands start reaching out to you. They will either email you (make sure your email is in your profile, not just in your contact details), DM you or leave you a comment on your post - it could also be all of the above. So make sure you’re checking your email, DM and comments regularly just in case they start reaching out.

Now if there are brands that you know you already want to work with you can definitely start attracting them right away and there are a few steps you can take to make sure you get their attention. And I call this the S.A.M Method, the Spark Attraction Method.

There are 3 steps to the the Spark Attraction Method are: IDENTIFICATION, CONNECTION and ATTENTION. 

Identification 

You need to identify what brands you want to work with. How many of you have a list of the brands you want to work with? I call this the BRANDS WISHLIST. Most influencers say they want to work with brands, but they don’t even know which brands they want to work with.

I’m all about setting your intention so I think you should have this list somewhere where you can see it and believe in your mind that you are going to be working with these brands, maybe not tomorrow, or next week or next month, maybe not even next year.

For some of my dream brands, it took years for them to reach out to me or for them to say YES to one of my pitches. And if you don’t have a BRANDS WISHLIST yet, that’s okay - you can start the process right away. 

Here are some questions that I want you to answer when thinking of which brands you want to work with: 

  • Which brands do you love? I mean truly love, the brands you spend your money on, the stores you would go into first if you won the lottery, your ride-or-die brands.
  • Which brands do you already use or own on a daily basis? Think of your routines. Let’s talk about it going down the body: what products do you use on your hair, your face, your skin, clothes you wear, shoes you wear, what about the bag you carry, what’s in your bag, what’s on your desk, what’s in your home, your fridge and pantry, the food you put inside of your body. I want you to do an inventory of all these brands that you already use or own, because these are the brands you want to work with because you are using them already organically.
  • Which brands would you recommend to your best friend? 
  • Which brands would help your audience? 
  • Which brands would solve their problems. 

So that’s Step #1 IDENTIFICATION where you have to get clear with which brands you want to work with. If there are brands that you want to work with but are not a natural fit to your daily life - the question would be - why aren’t you using those brands? And it’s okay if you’re not yet using these brands BUT it’s time to start buying those brands and testing them out making sure your personal experience with the products are good and something you can genuinely talk about and recommend. 

I’m a big believer in putting it out there and I want to share this story I had with Nike, it’s a brand I love. I have more than a few Nike shoes and I wear Nike sports bras, tennis dresses and when I first started doing this, I said I want to work with Nike one day. I would tag the brand in my posts and every time I was wearing Nike, I would just tag them. It didn’t happen for 3 WHOLE YEARS. Was I expecting it? NO. Would it have been awesome? Yes it was! So three years later, Nike Women reached out to me and I’ve been fortunate enough to partner with them on some events with Nike Los Angeles, they send me Nike shoes and it’s amazing.

But I do believe that more than 50% of it is putting the intention out there, writing it down. So if you have a dream brand you gotta put it out there in the Universe. And it will happen, it might take a year, two, three, who cares right? Just put it out there. Does it really matter how long it takes? At the end of the day, you can attract those brands but you also have to take action and believe it. 

Connection

This is how you’re going to get a brand to notice you. And this also relates to the #1 mistake influencers make when wanting to work with brands - some of them aren’t even FOLLOWING or ENGAGING with a brand on social media! I’m talking about Instagram, Facebook, Twitter - every channel possible. Don’t even think about reaching out to a brand if you’re not even connected with them yet. 

Brands want to know that you’re a true fan and you’re already a customer. They want to see that there’s loyalty and affinity. I recommend engaging with a brand for at least 30 days before reaching out to them. This means liking and commenting on their posts regularly, even every day. This will really get them to notice. I mean, you gotta think about it like this - someone on their team is managing their channel. Most likely there is a team of marketers in a room every single week looking at analytics - I know this because I was one of them. I was on the brand side, the digital marketing side when I was working in corporate. And they will know who their most engaged fans are.

Another thing you should do to connect is to watch and respond to their stories - this actually opens up a DM conversation which is organic, genuine and authentic. Don’t ask for anything YET, just respond to their content. That’s all you have to do, you’re building rapport and connection here. 

So tell me, are you following all the brands you wanna work with on social? Are you engaging with them already? A lot of influencers want to work with brands but they're not willing to put in the work, then they’re wondering why a brand says no or doesn’t even respond. It’s because they didn’t take that time to build a connection. I don’t want that to be YOU, so make sure you take the time to build that connection! And I want you to be doing this for at least 30 days. 

Attention

In these 30 days you’re also going to be doing the next step, STEP #3: ATTENTION. This is where you’re really gonna get a brand’s attention by featuring the brand organically. 

This means that you’re going to show the brand that you already have their product, you’re already using it, you’re a true fan and you’re already promoting them organically in your feed and stories even if they’re not paying you. 

You’re going to create content for the brand. This means on your next shoot, you’re going to be wearing something from the brand or holding something, the brand is visible in your photo or video, and then you’re gonna tag the brand in the feed and in the Stories - because again this will open up a DM. And in the DM you can actually see if they’ve seen it, it’ll say “Seen.” 

So if you do this, it’ll get you on the brand’s radar because you bet that they look at who’s tagging them organically. Plus the engagement you’re doing on their account - they will probably feature you on their channels by reposting you and probably reach out. They also build influencer lists for product campaigns and you’re probably gonna be on there. Now you can wait til they reach out to you or you can reach out to them - and I’m gonna be talking about pitching next. 

To recap, the SPARK ATTRACTION METHOD is as follows:

Step #1: IDENTIFICATION - Know which brands you want to attract based on what you’re already using.

Step #2: CONNECTION - Following and engaging with the brand on social media for at least 30 days before you even reach out, including replying to their stories so you open up a DM.

Step #3: ATTRACTION - Featuring the brand organically in your content on your feed and stories so you can get on the brand’s radar and continue that relationship that you started in Step 2. 

I hope that my SPARK ATTRACTION METHOD is starting to get you thinking about what you need to do to attract brands and now you realize that it’s not just about reaching out to brands. You want to do all of this beforehand because it’s so important that you have that connection and that relationship with a brand first. You can reach out and take a chance, but you will have a higher chance of getting to a YES if you do all this pre-work first. 

Pitching

Next let’s talk about PITCHING and yes I have another process for this too because as you can tell I love teaching in frameworks because I love learning like this too and I believe it makes things easier to understand. So the 5 step of the SPARK PITCH PROCESS, the 5 S’s; The first 3 steps you might be familiar with because they’re the same as my SPARK ATTRACTION METHOD because it also applies...

Step 1. SELECT

  • Know which brand you want to pitch
  • Do your research on the brand: new products, releases, seasonal, promotions
  • Investigate if they’ve worked with influencers before and in what capacity 

Step 2. SYNC

  • Connect with a brand and build a relationship
  • Make sure you follow the brand and engage with them often (daily if possible) for at least 30 days before you pitch
  • Watch and reply to their stories (opens a DM - do not pitch yet)

Step 3. SHARE

  • Feature the brand organically on your channel -  this shows brand affinity and loyalty and that you’re a true fan and already a customer
  • Gives a preview of what branded content will look like
  • Tag them in feed and stories (opens up a DM - do not pitch yet) 

Step 4: SHIFT

  • Optimize your influencer portfolio for the brand you’re pitching
  • 3 Essential Elements: media kit, rate card, case studies deck. I’ll be diving deeper into this in another episode, but basically a media kit is kind of like a resume that shows all your stats, demographics and brands you’ve worked with all in one place. A rate card is your pricing sheet and how much you charge for your services, and a case studies deck is a presentation that shows your previous work with brands. Now this is something that will always be a work in progress and you’re gonna be adding and optimizing this all the time. But you wanna make sure you have one ready before you pitch
  • Optimize your portfolio to show similar brands, industry-specific examples 

Step 5: SEND 

  • Find an email content (website/IG profile/DM - since you’ve already been connecting with them on social)
  • Send an email: how you provide value, talk about your audience, partnership idea
  • Send media kit and case studies (rate card send after reply)
  • Follow up in 7 days via email or DM

How to be confident in pitching: 

  • Do the pre-pitch work and follow the Spark Pitch Process to build connection 
  • Fear of Rejection: NO just means “not right now” 

When is the right time to pitch? 

  • There is no right time, but the brands may be looking for a certain criteria (follower count, audience demographics, etc.) 
  • Start by pitching collabs first to build experience and to build your portfolio 

I know that was a lot of information but I hope that gives you enough to start implementing in your own brand. And I want to go back to what I said in the beginning about it not mattering how many followers you have because brands want to work with all levels of followers. It's true! They’re seeing that micro-influencers and even nano-influencers have a much higher engagement and a deeper connection with their audience. Especially if you’re using my method and process, they’re definitely going to want to work with you because they can post the content on their channels or boost your content through ads - if your content is high-quality and provides value, they are going to want to work with you. 

If you want learn more about sealing those brand deals, I have a free masterclass you can attend by going to thesparksociety.org/masterclass.

I hope you enjoyed this episode!

If you did, please leave me a rating and review on Apple Podcasts - I wanna know what you think and if you’re getting value out of these episodes.

Listen to the full episode below:

                                                        

Listen to Previous Episodes: 

Success Affirmations

Success Defined

What is a Brand Deal

Narrow Your Niche

 

                   Connect with Gwen Lane

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