3 Tips on How to Build Brand Partnerships
Here's how to sell your content without selling out.
Want to know the secret to getting paid to work with brands? Think in terms of ongoing partnerships and creating real, relatable content rather than one-off advertisements.
Social media and digital marketing are changing, as brands need to be more personal and genuine in their messaging rather than being straight up salesy. Yet a lot of the content coming from brands still sounds very corporate, which is why they can benefit from partnering with you -- and paying you -- to create content.
1. Content matters more than reach
Even if you don’t have a large following, you can still get brand deals. Whether you have 1,000 social media followers or 1 million, everyone has some level of influence. The size of a sponsorship may depend on reach, but if you can make an impact within your circles, many companies will still work with you. Or, if you can create compelling content that brands can share on their own channels, that can also be valuable to them and worthy of a sponsorship.
It’s all about having the right energy, enthusiasm and style that brands are looking for. Brands can pay for reach via social media advertising, but they can’t necessarily create content the way you can. Whether you’re great at coming up with storylines, or you’re a natural in front of the camera, or you’re an expert at subtle yet effective product placement, show brands how your skills can make an impact.
2. Create content that you believe in
Your ability to create engaging, relevant content lies at the heart of getting brands to sponsor to you. Think about what you like to create and how you can leverage that in a way that’s on point for brands, without being too sales-focused.
For example, lifestyle content -- especially travel -- is a hot topic on social media, and for the past several years, I’ve been documenting my business travels on YouTube. So, when I speak with a company like Hertz, who I now have a partnership with, it’s easy for me to explain how I’m already creating content related to their brand, and how I can help them by incorporating their rental vehicles into my travel videos. My audience still gets the value I provide through my vlogs, and Hertz gains the content that shows viewers some of their offerings without sounding like an ad.
In contrast, it wouldn’t be a good fit for me to form a partnership with a company that I don’t believe in or that doesn’t relate to who I am and what I do. Remember, marketing today means keeping it real. So if I took a sponsorship from a brand I don’t vibe with, my audience would see through that and it wouldn’t be successful, which would soon end the deal and hurt my chances of gaining others in the future.
3. Be patient and build partnerships
If you’re just starting out as a brand ambassador, or if you’re trying to land a big client, don’t get discouraged if you can’t always land a paying deal right away. When you’re new, brands might offer to trade you their products or services for your work, and that can be of value to both parties.
You should think in terms of how you and the brand can mutually benefit one another. If you wouldn’t benefit from a trade, then maybe it’s not the right partnership for you. Yet if you do find a brand where you’d be a customer and a fan anyway, and therefore find value in a trade, then you can start from there and prove your own value over time to progress to paid sponsorships.
Building ongoing partnerships also often benefits both you and the brand more than the one-off deals you often see with influencer marketing. From a brand’s perspective, one-off deals with an influencer may get them reach, but they may not have as much control over the messaging or the creative, and they can’t tweak those over time to find what works best. Moreover, audiences can often see through sponsorships that are basically just ads compared to partnerships that may be paid but have a genuineness behind them.
Plus, with ongoing partnerships, you don’t have to constantly be looking for the next sponsorship, and you can expand your work with the same companies to become more effective with your content creation and eventually earn more income.
At the end of the day, if you want to work with brands, you have to be true to yourself and true to the brand. Find companies that you truly connect with and can bring value to, and you’ll start to earn partnerships that you, the brand and your audience all benefit from.