How to collaborate with brands: Top tips for successful influencer outreach
Learning how to collaborate with brands successfully can be an excellent way to boost your reach, connect with new audiences, and enhance your reputation.
In today’s digital landscape, competing for market share is harder than ever. New businesses are launching every day, and consumer trust is dwindling. If you want to stand out, and capture as much interest as possible, it pays to cultivate the right partnerships.
Unfortunately, while there are plenty of articles and guides out there covering how to master influencer collaboration, there aren’t as many designed to help new brands, influencers, or creators collaborate with brands.
That’s why we created this step-by-step guide, covering everything you need to know to find brand partnerships, and master the art of collaboration.
Why collab with brands? The benefits of collaboration
Successful collaboration can be extremely valuable in the business world. Gaining credibility, authority, and trust isn’t easy. That’s particularly true in a world where 75% of US and UK customers feel uncertain about working with new companies.
One way to boost your reputation and earn authority is to connect with influencers who can draw attention to your organization through sponsored post strategies on social media. However, working with influencers isn’t the only option.
If you’re an influencer yourself, looking to expand your reach, or a new brand hoping to tap into a new market, working with complementary brands can be just as effective. In fact, studies show that 71% of consumers enjoy co-branding partnerships and collaborations.
Here are some of the main reasons to consider collaborating with brands.
1. Expand your reach to new potential customers
Whether you’re an influencer, a startup, or an evolving company, you’ll always be looking for ways to expand your audience and reach new people. The broader your market reach, the more revenue and profit you can potentially generate.
What’s more, expanding your reach means you can expand into new markets you haven’t targeted before, and even attract a larger number of followers to your website or social channels. Just as a good influencer relationship can help you reach new audiences; a brand collaboration can do the same.
Established brands will already have a community of fans following them. They can recommend your business to these consumers, boost your credibility, and drive new opportunities to your company.
2. Nurture relationships with your customer base
Learning how to collaborate with brands isn’t just a great way to reach a wider audience and attract new customers. They can also help you nurture the relationships with the audience you already have. You’ve probably seen countless examples of this already.
Brands can collaborate with other companies to offer customers unique and exclusive products. This is great for connecting with Gen Z and millennials, 60% of which purchase special edition releases.
A brand partner can also help to power reward schemes, giveaways, and contests that boost engagement. For instance, MyProtein partnered with Simply Cook to create a UK rewards platform that harnessed customer loyalty and increased repeat sales.
3. Improve your reputation and credibility
While brand collaborations are common among larger companies, they’re also a popular choice for smaller, emerging brands. When you’re launching a new company, it can be difficult to earn the trust of your customers, as they haven’t had a chance to get to know your business.
People naturally trust what they already know. Established brands, with years of experience in their field have a much larger, and more dedicated audience. They’ve already proven they can deliver on their brand promises, and shared their mission with the world.
Working with these established brands as an up-and-coming company, influencer, or creator means you can harness some of the trust they’ve already developed, to improve your reputation.
Collaborating with brands: Choosing the right brands
It’s easy to assume the most important step in collaborating with brands is reaching out and grabbing their attention. However, if you want to collab with brands successfully, you need to ensure you’re connecting with the right companies – the ones that can facilitate growth.
Not every brand partnership will be right for your company. So, how do you find the right organizations to work with as a startup, influencer, or content creator?
Step 1: Define your target audience
The first, and most important step in any brand collaboration, is understanding who you want to reach with your new partnership. If you’re an influencer, you’ll be looking to work with brands that can help you to serve and support audiences in your specific niche.
For instance, you might be building an identity as a thought leader in the health and wellness space, the fitness landscape, or the beauty industry.
If you’re launching a new business, your target audience will be the people who can benefit most from your products or services.
Growing brands may even want to expand their reach into new segments. For instance, if you run a clothing company, you may want to increase your target market to include parents shopping for garments for their children.
Gather as much information as you can about your intended audience, from their pain points and goals to their demographics and shopping behaviors, and look for a brand that already has an in-road with that specific target market.
Step 2: Know your brand identity
Once you’ve identified your ideal audience, the next step is figuring out what kind of message you want to convey to your consumers. A good brand partnership can be an excellent way to draw attention to the specific values, vision, and mission you have as a brand.
Collaborations can highlight your eco-friendly processes, and establish you as an authority in the sustainability space. Alternatively, they could help to establish you as a provider of luxury, budget-friendly, or simple and straightforward products.
The only way to ensure you’re sending the right message, is to define your brand identity, and look for brands that share your values.
Crucially, the right partnership should be with a brand that complements your business, rather than competing with it. You want to connect with a partner that has similar interests to your company, but they shouldn’t be selling the exact same products or services.
Step 3: Research potential partnership strategies
Once you know your target audience, and the values or message you want to convey to your market, the next step is thinking about how you’re going to collaborate with another brand. There are various options to consider, depending on your goals.
For instance, if you’re an influencer hoping to generate reach and authority, you might offer sponsored posts and influencer marketing campaigns to brands that share your values. This gives you an opportunity to earn more followers, while the brand you work with benefits from promotion.
If you’re an existing brand, you might consider exploring co-branding opportunities, where you work with another company to promote a new offering or service.
Bonne Belle & Dr Pepper collaborated in 1975 to create a new lip balm, flavored to taste like Dr Pepper. Alternatively, you could just work with a brand on a marketing campaign, to drive awareness for both of you, like Red Bull and Go Pro did with the “Stratos” campaign.
The key to a great opportunity is ensuring the partnership will deliver a win-win situation for both you and your partner brand. You should both benefit from the interaction.
How to find brand partnerships: Searching for opportunities
Once you’ve done your initial research, identifying your target audience, the types of partnerships you want to consider, and your brand identity, the next step is finding appropriate brands.
It can take a while to find brand partnerships that work for your business, or personal brand.
However, there are various ways to launch your search, such as:
1. Identifying brands that already engage with you
If you’re an established content creator, or a reasonably well-known business, there’s a chance that other brands are already connecting with you. Complementary brands might “like” your posts on social media, or share links to your website from their blog.
You can use social media analytical tools to track down brands that have already engaged with your posts. Alternatively, use a solution like SEMRush or Ahrefs to find out which companies are linking to your business from their website.
2. Check out your competitors
A competitor analysis is often a useful tool for any marketing or growth campaign. Your direct competitors are probably already experimenting with partnerships to help them boost their brand image, or start building relationships with new audiences.
Make a list of the closet competitors in your industry, and find out which companies they’ve worked with in the past. These partners probably have a similar target audience to the one you want to reach, and they may be open to working with more than one company.
3. Conduct searches online
One of the easiest ways to find brand partnerships is to simply search for specific keywords, phrases, and terms on search engines and social media. If you’re running a beauty company, or you’re a beauty influencer, searching for phrases like “cosmetics” will give you a list of companies to consider.
The key to success here is making sure you research each brand you encounter, to ensure they’re not selling products and services that compete with your offering. This will also be a good way to learn more about the company’s values, to see if they match your own.
How to get brands to work with you: Building presence
Now that you have a list of potential brands you want to work with, you need to figure out how to convince them to collaborate with you. If you’re a small company or influencer, it can be much harder to convince a pre-established brand that a collaboration is a good idea.
You’ll need to prove that you can offer something valuable to the company in exchange for their co-operation.
Here are some good ways to get started…
1. Build brand authority
Even if you’re thinking of collaborating with brands to boost brand awareness and reach, that doesn’t mean your online presence should be non-existent to begin with. Any brand that considers working with you will research your company before they commit to anything.
With that in mind, it’s important to ensure you have a great image, both online and offline. Start by developing a website where you can showcase your brand identity, your values, and your mission. Invest in content creation to develop thought leadership, and highlight social proof.
If you’re an influencer, this means showcasing examples of brands you’ve worked with before, and the results you’ve achieved. If you’re a new brand, show off your ratings and reviews from customers.
2. Get active on social media
Social media is a powerful tool for boosting brand awareness, connecting with potential brand advocates, and strengthening relationships with customers.
Even if you don’t have thousands of followers on social media already, creating quality content and engaging with your existing fans will boost your chances of accessing a successful partnership. Find out where your customers are, and which social channels they use to search for companies.
It’s also worth checking out which social channels your potential partner brands use already. This will ensure you can both collaborate on shared campaigns through the same platforms.
For new brands, working with nano influencers, micro influencers, and other content creators in your industry on the creation of authentic content can also boost your follower count.
3. Identify the value you can offer
Next, it’s time to figure out what value you can offer your favorite brands in exchange for their support. There are different ways to approach this. Some companies pay big influencers from other brands for their help on campaigns.
However, promising another brand a flat payment is unlikely to generate a lot of results. Most companies are looking for partnerships that generate long-term benefits.
With this in mind, think about what you can offer to deliver sustainable value. Can you help another company create high-quality content that attracts new customers? Do you have a great reputation in a specific niche that can help another brand boost their reach?
You might even be able to offer something to expand the brand’s product portfolio. For instance, you could work together on new products or services that targets a specific audience. Heinz and Absolut did this when partnering on a new pasta sauce.
How to reach out to brands: Mastering outreach
Now it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – figuring out how to reach out to brands. The first step in this process is defining the best way to connect with the brand you want to work with.
If you’re partnering with a local, smaller company, they may prefer to speak to you directly over the phone. Some companies will respond better to messages sent over social media channels.
You can check out the websites and social media pages of the companies you want to work with for insights. Most will include links for “PR” or people who want to request a media kit.
One of the most common ways for business owners and influencers to reach out to companies about potential collaborations, is to send an email. No matter which method you choose, you’ll need to ensure you can craft the perfect “pitch” for your collaboration.
Crafting your pitch: The key points to consider
Sending a pitch to another brand can be difficult if you haven’t done it before. You need to do more than simply type out a quick direct message asking for a collaboration. Some big brands, (and even small businesses) receive thousands of requests for partnerships each month.
To make sure your message stands out, you should ensure it includes all the right elements. Start with an eye-catching subject line if you’re sending an email, or a memorable opening sentence of you’re connecting via social media.
In the body of your message, include:
- An introduction: Explain who you are (influencer, new brand, etc), and what you do. What services or products do you offer, and why is that valuable to the other brand?
- What you want: Outline the collaboration you’re proposing. Do you want to work with your potential partners on a new product, a marketing campaign, or something else?
- Why you’re a good fit: What makes this partnership beneficial to the other company, and their target audience? How are your values aligned?
- The benefits: What are you offering the other company in exchange for their help? Will you share affiliate links for them, or promote them on your social media platforms?
- How to get in touch: How can your potential brand partners reach out to you if they’re interested? Should they just respond to your message? Do you want to arrange a meeting?
For email outreach, here’s an example of a template you can download and use:
I’m [Name] from [Company]. My team and I are huge fans of your [services/products], and have noticed your presence on [channels] in recent months. We particularly love your [product, marketing campaign / something of note].
I’m reaching out because [my company/ I] offer [services/products] that [unique benefit], and I believe they would be extremely beneficial to your audience. We’ve already achieved [number of social followers/specific accomplishment] as you can see here: [links or buttons].
I believe together, we could both [benefit you’re proposing] and take our businesses to new heights. I’d love to work with you on [specific idea], or any other collaboration you might find beneficial.
In exchange for your expertise and support, we can offer [benefit for the other brand].
Would you be interested in discussing this further? Please reach out to me on [links], or respond to this message, and we can set up a time for brainstorming.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Don’t be afraid to follow up with some extra emails, checking in and re-iterating the benefits of a successful brand collaboration for both of you. Remember, some bigger brands may miss your initial email or direct message.
Tips for better brand collaborations
By this point, you should know the basics of how to collaborate with brands. However, there are a few extra tips you can keep in mind to boost your chances of success, such as:
- Be persistent: While you shouldn’t be sending hundreds of messages to your ideal brand every week, it’s okay to follow up. Send a couple of extra messages or emails to each company you’re considering working with, to boost your chances of a reply.
- Use multiple channels: If you don’t get a response from your ideal brand when you send a message to their email address, reach out elsewhere. Comment on the posts they share on their Instagram page, or send them a direct message on LinkedIn.
- Focus on them: Don’t just point out how good a partnership will be for your business. Let your potential collaborators know what’s in it for them and their target audience. Focus on the benefits they can get from working with you.
- Actually collaborate: Be open to collaborating with the other brand and responding to their ideas. They might have suggestions on how you can run more effective campaigns together. Make sure you take their recommendations to heart.
- Maintain the relationship: After a collaboration comes to an end, don’t just forget about the other brand. Stay connected, and look for other ways you might be able to work together in the future. This will pave the way for continuous growth.
Additionally, make sure you know when to take a step back. If a brand decides not to work with you, don’t bombard them with messages explaining why you’re such a great fit. Look for an alternative partnership instead.
Collaborating with brands: The right way
Figuring out how to collaborate with brands effectively can be extremely valuable for an influencer, content creator, or a new company. The benefits of brand collaboration include everything from increased reach and new sales opportunities to better brand reputations.
If you’re trying to facilitate growth, a partnership could be the perfect opportunity to connect with new customers, and increase your sales. However, you need to ensure you’re approaching the process correctly. Follow the best practices above, and make sure you know how to find the right fit.
If you take your time, and implement a careful strategy, the right partner can elevate your company, or personal brand to new heights. Don’t underestimate the power of collaboration.