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Influencer Marketing // November 10th, 2020

Pitching Influencers: 7 Mistakes to Avoid

Written by Kate Jenkins

These days, brand social campaigns and influencers go together like soap and water or avocados and toast. Connecting with and pitching the right influencers is incredibly important to your brand’s digital growth and social strategy.

We all know why influencer marketing is valuable — brands are making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing! 63% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the next year, according to A 2019 survey by The Influencer Marketing Hub. Using targeted influencers increases a brand’s reach and credibility to those ready and willing to spend $$$ on the products their favorite influencers are endorsing.

We all know how important first impressions are and nailing the first pitch is the secret to working with great influencers on an engagement-worthy campaign. As a foodie/recipe-developer micro-influencer I have worked with, and been pitched by, dozens of brands and…let’s just say…there is definitely a wrong way to do things. I’ve compiled some tips and tricks from my experience to help you save time by pitching influencers the right way.

Here are seven mistakes to avoid when pitching influencers for your next campaign.

Mistake #1: The cold email blast

The cold call has been replaced with the cold email, and they give me the chills. There is honestly nothing worse than a LONG email (ok, a long Direct Message on the ‘gram is actually worse) describing your brand’s ancient superfood berry powder discovered in the far-flung jungles of the Amazon with absolutely zero personality and thought put behind it.

Take some time to research the influencer you’re pitching to see if they can deliver an authentic message to your core audience. Did you see an amazing recipe on their Instagram where this superfood berry powder would make an excellent addition? Tell them about it! Describe how your brand and products and the influencer’s brand are a natural fit.

Mistake #2: No name, or worse, the wrong name

Example A: Hey Carly (my name is Kate), we think you’ll really love our XYZ. Can we send you some to try?

No, just no.

Bloggers’ circle of influence (and often times, their good friends) include other bloggers/influencers. We love to swap stories about hilarious pitches we’ve received and when working with a brand goes very, very wrong. This includes everything from butchering our names to horror stories about delayed payments and extreme posting requirements. If your brand gets a bad reputation among influencers in the community you’re trying to reach, it’s going to be very difficult to secure high-quality, authentic partnerships in the future.

Mistake #3: Not paying attention to personal preferences and needs

I get this one all the time, and it goes back to taking the time to research each and every influencer you plan to pitch.

When it comes to food brands, for example, you should probably triple-check that Finn @Veg4Life eats meat before pitching your grass-fed and grass-finished beef jerky, because if veg = vegan Finn probably isn’t going to be a good partner or authentic fit for your meat-forward brand. Talk about a waste of time and money for both parties!

Most bloggers and influencers will state the most pertinent information about their preferences on their ‘about’ section of their website or social media bio. If that’s not readily listed, take the time to dig into the influencers’ content by reading their captions and blog posts, and deciding if their preferences are in alignment with your own.

Mistake #4: Payment via product

Influencers and creators (no matter their size or engagement) deserve to be compensated for working with and endorsing your brand. Creating quality content takes a lot of time and influencers should be compensated accordingly. Unless you represent Birkin bags, the profit you will see from one partnership – 5 times the cost spent on a fairly paid influencer partnership — is worth more than just some free product.  Here’s a peek at all the work that goes into a sponsored post for a food blogger:

  • Establishing a connection with a brand: get pitched, create a relationship, agree to participation in a post/campaign, set dates, rates, and posting criteria
  • Reading, reviewing, and signing a contract
  • For recipe development content: researching recipe ideas, creating a grocery list, shopping for ingredients, testing a recipe, cooking (this can take hours, or even days depending on the recipe), testing a recipe again (custom recipes often fail), sourcing props, and photographing/shooting video of the recipe
  • Editing photos and/or video, creating custom Pinterest photos
  • Writing a blog post, social copy, Instagram Story copy and Pinterest captions for the brand’s approval
  • Editing copy depending on the brand’s feedback
  • Posting the sponsored content across multiple platforms
  • Monitoring and responding to comments/questions on sponsored posts
  • Sending engagement metrics and analytics to the brand
  • Creating an invoice (and then sometimes hunting down payment)

Still think it is a fair trade for the “exposure” and some free protein powder?

Mistake #5: A laundry list of required “talking points”

Consumers these days are particularly savvy to marketing speak and the influencers’ community can detect brand dictated “talking points” a mile away. Requiring your influencer to include too many facts or phrases will read as forced, robotic, or just too darn salesy. On a platform where authenticity is king, your post laden with “talking points” will come off as disingenuous. This means less engagement for the influencers, less eyeballs on the post you worked so hard together on, and less ROI.

Mistake #6: Not establishing relationships

I really love working with brands because I get to meet amazing people from all over the country who represent those companies. Influencers want to get to know YOU, so let your personality shine. Don’t be afraid to hop on the phone with them to chat about how quarantine-life has impacted their business and social media channels, while also subtly mentioning how great it is to wear leggings every day. Talk about their pets, their kids, their favorite way to use your product — just get to know them!

Psst: The best part of having a really great professional relationship with an influencer? That person is going to work 10x harder to create better content for you and your brand, because they like you so much. Failing to establish a positive relationship can have the opposite effect. If a partnership feels too transactional, the influencer many not want to work with your brand again.

Mistake #7: Taking creative control

Influencers, content creators, bloggers, vloggers… whatever you want to call us, we all have our own unique style when it comes to what we post on our feeds, channels, and blogs.

Please do send us your brand guidelines that outline specific colors, voice, and any other applicable information, and then let us run with it. (It’s why you’re compensating us appropriately, right?!) We each have honed our own unique vision and creative approach and will use those strengths to make your brand shine.

Moral of the story: do your research before reaching out and choose influencers that align with your brand and then let them do their thing – you’ll get better results, guaranteed!