Why brands aren't willing to work with you: A guide

Today's topic is gonna be a little bit... spicy, to say the least. I was watching a video from Samantha Ravendahl earlier today answering questions about the Influencer industry, and she made a few comments that I 100% don't agree with:

  • Microinfluencers aren't effective for the kind of ROI that a brand wants to see
  • The influencers who are doing the best are the ones who are best at business

Really, those are posts for a different day because larger brands are clawing back marketing dollars... but they're clawing it back from the large influencers and putting them towards micro influencers instead.

And... most of the influencers who are doing really well right now are terrible at business. 

But that's not what we're here for. What she did say that I think bears examining here is that microinfluencers feel a sense of entitlement, that if their content is "better" or "more artistic" that they should be paid.

Here's the thing... if you're not getting paid to work with brands or your paychecks are inconsistent, there's a few specific reasons why it's not happening.  And that's what we're going to be going over today.

Just know that this isn't meant at anyone specific, and that if I'm being harsh, it's because we care about seeing you succeed and the whole sugar coating approach isn't going to get you there.

You're not treating your blog/social media profiles like a business.

Here's the uncomfortable truth... nobody cares about your passion or how talented you are as a makeup artist. Brands are paying influencers as a marketing channel. That means that your feed has to look like it can market things.

Using an old iPhone won't cut it. Selfies taken with the front facing camera (and more and more selfies in general) won't cut it. Your feed has to be so sleek, so well edited, and so brandable that a brand could pay you for your photos and put them in an advertising campaign tomorrow.

Your iPhone or Android camera phone just can't get you there. It takes money to make money, and if you're not willing to invest a few hundred dollars in a DSLR camera, why should a brand invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in you, no matter what your engagement rate is?

Influencer marketing is a reciprocal business - good will on your part will yield good will from brands. If your photos look like garbage... you can expect garbage pay from brands.

The rule of thumb is this: If you wouldn't honestly follow your own feed... do better.

Your content is outdated.

Here's some news for you about things that are, by and large, dead (meaning if you propose this to a brand they know you don't have a creative bone in your body or have run out of ideas):

  1. Flat lays
  2. Product reviews
  3. Launches that are limited edition or restocked
  4. Poorly lit, blurry, or overly grainy photos

If you want to be featured by brands or work with brands look at their feeds to see what they're already reposting or sponsoring. I can't stress this enough... I talk to bloggers every. single. day. whose feeds look like they're straight out of a time machine from 2016. Social media changes... trends change. And they're changing faster and faster. If you want to be an influencer, you have to be at the forefront, not at the tail end. 

Your content is you-focused.

News flash: Brands really could not give two sh!ts about your personal story unless it has a DIRECT correlation to their product. Aerie is a great example of a brand that infuses its influencer stories in its campaigns, and that's because it's an important part of the brand's philosophy.

Aerie doesn't retouch its models and it stresses that its women are real. As it's a brand that appeals to the body positivity community, knowing about that person's story therefore makes sense. But only insofar as it connects to the brand. All of the stories you'll see featured are about body acceptance/self love. 

Their influencers are more than their bodies, but ultimately, the Aerie brand doesn't care what kind of car someone drives.

When you're an influencer whose goal is to work with brands, you have to remember that you are being paid to tell the BRAND'S story and you are being picked based on whether or not your BRAND aligns with theirs and if an element of YOUR brand aligns with THEIR brand.

Your pitches suck.

This is pretty straightforward, but if your pitches contain any of these errors, prepare to be blacklisted:

  • Spelling or grammatical errors
  • The wrong person's name
  • The wrong brand name
  • Clearly generic
  • No indication of how your pitch is a good fit for the brand
  • Are super long 

As people who work on behalf of brands, we'll tell you that we have enough people reaching out to us who know what brand they want to work with that if you mess it up or send the most generic pitch of all time, you can be permanently blue balled from ever working with that brand, it doesn't matter how popular you get.

Gate keepers are like elephants - we remember everything. And we like things short and concise.

You have no idea what makes you unique as a blogger.

This is another major problem that we see all the time with our corporate clients. We'll read pitches that come into their inbox and we don't have indication of why an influencer's blog or socials and their audience are a right fit for our products.

You have to be specific about why you are the right person for a product or service. This doesn't matter if you have 10 followers or 10 million. There is someone with the same number of followers, so make sure that the fit between you and them and the results that you can help drive for the brand are front and centre. 

Your pricing is way off the mark.

If you have 200 followers, you shouldn't be charging $200 for an Instagram post... you'd think that would be obvious, but it isn't. There are different pricing formulas available, but in general, brands will look at engagement the most to determine how much to pay you. And yes... if you have fake followers, brands will know because they check all that stuff.

If you only have a few thousand followers, the Ritz Carleton is probably not going to work with you unless you have a crazy specific niche audience (ie: you only have 200 people on your list, but they are ALL multi millionaires and billionaires).

You've developed a relationship as being "difficult."

Something you should know about the brand side of the influencer industry... it's incredibly small. While we don't disclose our clients, you'd be surprised how many of the major fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands we rep in our agency alone... if someone is a nightmare to work with, they go on an internal list so that we never work with that person again.

Brands and the people who represent them don't want to work with people who are:

  • Argumentative
  • Unprofessional
  • Drama-filled
  • Late on deadlines
  • Not collaborative
  • etc.

Without realizing it, not performing at your best for one brand (yes, even if you've been given free product - if you've got an agreement with a brand that you will do a review for a brand or include it and you don't do it or don't do it in the turnaround time with no communication, it can haunt you for life).

Most fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands are run by mega companies - only a handful of people within those companies will work on influencer management and outreach. They talk.

And if one of those people moves to another major parent company (which happens often), your poor reputation moves with them.

For example, some of our portfolio managers used to work in the corporate space. I met them about five years ago while running fan campaigns for the brands they were working for. When they came to Better En Noir, they already had five years of information about who had produced the highest ROI, who drove brand awareness vs. sales... as well as those people who didn't deliver or were extremely unprofessional.

We rarely, if ever, consider those people... and that will ring true for any agency or brand. Ultimately, a brand wants a positive ROI on their time, money, and energy and so we're going to pick people who are most likely to generate wins.

In sum...

This is in no means an exhaustive list, and fixing all of these things won't guarantee that a brand wants to work with you. But... if you fix these things, you'll definitely be on the right track.

Erika AshleyComment