Building relationships with brands is a crucial part of landing your dream brand sponsorships. Through cultivating a real connection with brands, you can stand out from the crowd of other content creators, have a true long term brand sponsorship with regular and repeat income, and potentially get better deal terms from the brand.
But cultivating brand partnerships isn’t easy and requires a long term approach. Here’s everything you need to know about cultivating relationships with brand partners.
Identify your dream brands
The first step is of course to figure out which brands you’d want to work with. Below are a few avenues for doing so:
Make a list of brands you use
Spend a day or a week noticing which brands you use for everything from drinks, skincare, clothing, exercise equipment, house cleaning, sleep, supplements, pet care, and more! Write down the brands you use and highlight your favorites in each category. Make notes on why you use and love these brands.
Think about which sponsorship deal or deals you’d absolutely love to have; think about what would be your dream sponsorship marketing opportunity!
Ask your friends
Ask people you know what brands they use regularly and love. Ask them what they love about it, how they found out about it, and how they’d convince their friends to try it. You’re more likely to understand and do personalized outreach and relationship building with brands people in your circles are familiar with.
Make a list of these brands and rate them on different dimensions that align with your shared values to prioritize these brands for later outreach.
Use a creator marketplace
Leverage a creator marketplace that connects creators with brands. TikTok (and other social media platforms) has its own creator marketplace, for example, where TikTok creators can connect with global sponsorships opportunities.
With these marketplaces, you can often see information on the sponsorship proposal or brand collaboration that the company had in mind to filter based on types of opportunities that are most interesting to you.
Look for brands that sponsor other creators
Search your feed and your main platforms for #ad or #sponsored posts to see which brands are sponsoring other creators. Beyond searching, just notice other paid partnerships in your feed from your friends and favorite creators. Write down interesting sponsoring brands you find and continue to prioritize them!
Below is an example sponsored post from TIkTok creator @nzzjenna for a brand she uses in her day-to-day family life:
There are other ways to identify brands that are open to influencer marketing. You could set an alert for companies in your spaces of interest that receive funding (you can do this through a site like Crunchbase). These brands typically have the financial support to engage with many creators on marketing campaigns.
You could also search on LinkedIn to find people posting about brand sponsorship benefits (indicating they are bullish on influencer marketing) or people with “influencer marketing” type titles.
Lay the groundwork for the relationship
After you decide which brands you want to focus on, start these potential sponsors to notice you!
Buy the product
If you haven’t tried it, start by purchasing the product and using it. Write down what you think - what do you like and what could be improved? Are you still excited to partner with the brand? Beyond the product itself, did they have an easy to use site and smooth fulfillment process and great customer service?
DM the brand
Don’t be afraid to slide into the brand’s DMs! The worst that could happen is they don’t reply but then you’re back where you are right now anyways. You could send a quick message just saying you love their product or you can add more about why you love the product and how you’d love to work with them in the future.
Make the message as personalized as possible. For example, you could share what specifically you like about them and how you resonate with their brand values. Share how your target audience aligns with theirs. Share any relevant brand deals you have done with similar products. Share any thoughts you have on their marketing strategy or marketing campaigns that you have seen.
Tag the brand
Tag the brand’s social account in comments on your own post or other relevant posts. For example, if you see a post asking followers to tag their favorite brands, consider tagging the brand. If you see a post asking what products you start your day with, tag the brand! This helps elevate their brand awareness and your own as well.
Engage with the brand on social
Comment on the brand’s posts, respond to their stories, like their content, and reshare their posts. The more you interact with the brand’s content, the better the odds of them noticing you! They will see your value in helping them reach potential customers through your wider audience.
Make content about the brand even before you do a paid sponsorship! This is the best way to stand out to brands, and they will get a better sense of what a paid post would actually look like.
UGC is a great way for the brand to better understand your content before a formal partnerships. Especially for more up and coming creators, UGC could be a great option that puts you on the map. With UGC, brands are not limited to your following specifically but can put spend behind your video or post to promote it to their target audience.
Deepen the organic relationship
You’re in touch with the brand! Maybe they’ve responded to your DM or commented on a post you made about them. What’s next?
Share product feedback
Have ideas for the product? Share them with the brand through DM or email. Even beyond more nuanced product feedback, consider sharing bigger ideas you have, such as new products they could launch. While the brand may likely not incorporate your suggestions, reaching out to them shows strong interest and helps you stand out.
Brands are used to mass outreach from creators with generic messages. Any meaningful level of personalization you add can make a big difference.
Share marketing feedback
Beyond product feedback, also share thoughts on what marketing initiatives the brand could pursue! Have an idea for something new they could be doing with social? A potential partnership? A new way to pitch their product? An event for them to present at? A new market to tap into? New customers they could reach? Share your ideas! This also shows the brand that you are genuinely interested in being a growth partner. It helps the brand see that you truly understand their product, strategy, and audience, making you the perfect fit for a brand sponsorship.
Get an affiliate link
If the brand offers affiliate links to their users, make one yourself and start getting some sign ups from your audience. If you get good traction, you can a) feel more confident that the brand resonates with your audience and b) reach out to the brand highlighting your concrete results.
Similarly, some brands offer ambassador programs, which are often a more exclusive subset of their affiliate programs. Try to join these ambassador programs for brands that you love. You’ll get to be paid to promote their products and start building a relationship with their team.
Go their events
If the brand hosts pop ups near you, go check them out! Introduce yourself to their team in person and mention your interest in working with them. Learn about their event sponsorship opportunities. Get their business card and follow up.
Regularly feature them in your content
Beyond dedicated UGC videos mentioned above, you can regularly give them shout outs in your content. For example, if you are doing a day in the life video, mention their product when you use it. And note that it isn’t a sponsored video so your followers get even more excited about the brand. Often non-sponsored reviews can drive more website traffic for the brand that sponsored content because followers trust non-sponsored reviews more.
Build an official partnership
You’ve spent time cultivating an organic relationship - now it’s time to make the ask to make the brand partnership official! Here’s how:
Share your media kit
Reach out to the brand with your media kit. Make sure you reach out to the right contact (and continue asking for an intro to one until you get it). You can make a media kit through Beacons that pulls in your latest stats and showcases more about you and your best work. Below is an example media kit from Beacons CEO!
These media kits automatically update with your latest follower stats so you don’t have to worry about constantly screenshotting your social pages. Our media kits are also customizable while ensuring you always share the most relevant information with brands.
Send a personalized note
Send a personalized message that explains why you are a great fit for this brand specifically. Brands are used to getting generic messages from creators so stand out by sending a customized one.
The Beacons AI brand deal outreach tool can help with this by automatically generating a personalized message for you, saving you time and increasing the odds that you’ll get a response. Your message with the AI Brand outreach tool can pull in details that highlight your relevant experience and audience and show why you love the brand.
To further stand out, you could show intimate knowledge of their product through mentioning your interest in participating in a marketing campaign for their new product, for example.
Meet with the brand
If possible, try to meet with someone from the brand marketing team. After you’ve gotten a chance to meet live with them, you’ll be more memorable and top of mind! Don’t jump right into making the ask when you do meet them. Start to build rapport, mention your journey with the brand and what you like about them specifically, connect with them on something personal or professional, and share your ideas.
Get started with these next steps today
You’re ready to get started in making your dream brand deals a reality! Here’s what to do next:
- Make a list of your dream brands (and crowdsource some from friends too)
- tart connecting with these brands like you would a friend
Whenever you have doubts about how to cultivate a brand relationship, think: what would you do to grow a friendship? Do the same with the brand! Don’t forget that there are real people behind the scenes of these brands.
By keeping in mind the brand’s business objectives AND showing genuine enthusiasm, you can stand out and build an organic brand relationship into a bona fide business partnership.
As a bonus, if you work with a creator manager for your brand deals, you can add them to Beacons, and they can help you use all the brand deal tools Beacons has to offer.