By Alexandra Booze of @eastcoastcontessa – Influencers of every size from 1,000 to one million followers share one common fear when it comes to working with brands: rejection. In this post I share 5 top techniques on how to pitch brands as an influencer.

Thousands of new bloggers and millions of pieces of content pop onto the social media scene every day. Landing sponsorships becomes highly competitive at every level.  The answer to a campaign proposal isn’t always going to be yes. Sure, influencers with one million followers might be more likely to land partnerships with larger brands, but that isn’t always the case.

There are a number of ways influencers can land sponsorships, and there is one secret marketing weapon that many are unaware of. In the public relations world, this phenomenon is known as “cold pitching”: the ability to become your own publicist.

I have worked nearly a decade in the public relations industry and partnered with more than 450 consumer and hospitality brands. Below I am sharing five common cold-pitch practices that influencers should implement when marketing themselves:

Be Intentional

Before you even hit the “send” button, make sure you’ve done your research. Become familiar with the style and tone of a brand, including what their target audience is. Examine their social media pages over time,  take note of other brands they partner with and any unique quirks in their aesthetic. This will help with content development should a collaboration arise in the future.

What to Avoid: Mass or “blanket pitching” to brands that don’t compliment your target audience. Sending copious amounts of generic e-mail templates comes off as impersonal and unprofessional. Brand representatives get hundreds of e-mails from influencers each day, you don’t want one or all of yours to end up in the trash bin.

Ensure a Mutually Beneficial Partnership

Lay the foundation of the partnership and why you are interested in partnering with the brand up front. Explain how an exchange of product or monetary investment will not only benefit you, but how it would help their brand. Interested in partnering with them long term? Have you used the brand before and loved it? These are all things that should be included in a pitch up front.

What to Avoid: Partnering with a brand simply because they offer you money or a chance in the spotlight. Know your target audience and get to know the type of content they like to see. No matter the amount of money or recognition of a particular brand, if your followers don’t engage with it, it will not be seen as a successful partnership.

Show Off Your Skills (Just a Little)

Influencers sometimes get a bad rap for acting entitled, but one can still be confident without being over-confident. If you’ve worked with many big name brands in the past, you can certainly allude to that in your cold pitch. Did one of your blog posts on hair care go viral? Were you the recipient of a prestigious award in the influencer community? Mention it! It’s ok to toot your horn a bit to establish respect and expertise.

What to Avoid: Coming off as entitled or over-confident in an e-mail. Brands get hundreds of e-mails a day from influencers, so you need to keep the pitch brief while still promoting your work in an accurate and professional manner. Self-promotion without appearing self-absorbed can be tricky, but that’s why it’s an art. It takes practice.

Expect Nothing but Be Open to Almost Anything

While no one likes to be rejected, it is sadly a part of business. Not every brand you pitch will want to work with you right away, if at all, but that’s ok. Sometimes the answer might be yes with a few caveats thrown in.

What to Avoid: Accepting a paid sponsorship opportunity for the sake of making a quick buck. It is easy to forget that you have just as much power to turn down a proposal for sponsorship as brands themselves. If you don’t think a collaboration will help lead you towards your ultimate goal of increased growth and visibility, it’s likely best to turn it away.

Know Your Tribe – and be Proud of It

Is your tribe full of fun-loving moms that work 9-5 jobs? Maybe your main demographic is full of eclectic 20-somethings that enjoy head banging concerts and the newest trends in grunge fashion. Either way, identify your tribe and own it. All content that is produced should aim to appeal to them first, while everything else is secondary. One of the easiest ways to identify your target audience is to regularly review your social media stats to monitor shifts in engagement.

What to Avoid: Putting the wants and needs of a brand first. Yes, it is important to uphold promised deliverables and signed contracts, but make sure the brand guidelines work for you and your followers. Regardless of popular belief, influencers are not beholden to any brand for any amount of money or product. Ensure the requested deliverables are fair and fit the interests of your audience. Always remember why you’re an influencer in the first place: them!

About the Author:
Alexandra Booze is the Editor and co-founder of East Coast Contessa, an international digital publication. For nearly a decade, she has provided public relations and influencer marketing strategy services to companies world-wide.