Everyone wants that “big break”, right? The moment when the most influential person in your niche notices you and puts you on the map to her or his 1.2 million followers–or something like that.
The thing is, I look around and see a lot of people acting on that desire but their moves aren’t made with enough purpose to prove successful.
In the world of hired professional blogging for major outlets–where I acquired a lot of this truth I’m about to drop on you– reaching out to influencers is a part of the job description.
This is how you really make sure you get an ROI out of your efforts in Influencer Marketing.
1. Change Your Mindset
Your energy and time are both limited. Only a certain amount of it, per day, can be dedicated to reaching out to influencers. This is why it’s important to understand that influencer marketing, like everything else, is a tiered endeavor. There’s a way to best respect that time and energy.
You don’t start at the top. You work your way up to it.
The word “Influencer” is relative. If you only have 1,000 followers and someone else in your niche has 15,000, they’re your Influencer. And you should be starting there or even lower, because the primary point for you in connecting with influencers doesn’t rest in how many followers they have and dreams coming true. This is business. Reality. Your time and effort are investments, and this investment relies on the probability of your connection influencing your level of exposure and perceived value–affording you a timely ROI.
Let that sink in.
2. Do Your Homework
“They have 15,000 followers on Instagram!” isn’t the only question to be answered when vetting influencers.
That’s right. You vet influencers.
If you want to get the most out of your investment (and avoid wasted efforts and bad exposure completely) you have to brainstorm everything that could possibly affect your collaboration in a negative way, and then do your homework.
Are those followers targeted and are they engaged in what your influencer is sharing?
If you’re getting featured on their blog do they have enough hits per month to lend you the exposure you’re seeking?
Is any of their content relevant to the specific thing you’re promoting through their channel? How did the followers respond to it?
What are the influencer’s general interests? Do you have anything else in common? How deep can this connection be and how far should you take it?
What bad publicity does the influencer have? How do you feel about having your brand tied to that image? How do you feel about endorsing their cause and flaws as much as they’re endorsing yours?
3. Become Relevant In Their Space
If you want someone to notice you in a likable fashion you should become a positive relevant influence in their space instead of interrupting their day asking them for favors without them ever having heard of you.
(Thank me later for that run-on.)
I can best expound on this with a personal experience:
Before reaching out to Daniel DiPiazza (recent acquirer of Under30CEO and founder of Rich20Something, featured in a ton of huge media publications, good looking, blah blah blah) I became relevant in his space.
Rich20Something Community is the Facebook group in which Daniel spends much of his time, (at the time of writing this post it has about 16,700 members).
So what did I do? I hopped in the group and started contributing–regularly.
But I didn’t speak to him. Not right away.
First I just made sure I was visible.
How do you do that? Share value. Ask questions. Answer questions. Be an active and consistent participant in the party this influencer has afforded youth privilege of attending.
Focus on being mindful. Everything you do in their space, starting out, has to align with their value mission first. I don’t mean to go into the group and start promoting their content. They’re already doing well at that–otherwise they wouldn’t have a space in which they have influence.
What i mean is to maximize the value the influencer is providing. Daniel teaches people how to be entrepreneurs. He wants the group to be a place where his entire community comes together to lean on each other through their failures, growth, and triumphs.
So while I’m in his group guess what I do? I offer value that helps teach people how to be entrepreneurs.
I align my value with that of my chosen influencer so that when they see me–which they will because I’m in their space–they will begin to bundle me up with other things and people they consider valuable to their endeavors, and not just another customer that contributes to their bank accounts.
This is how you become relevant. Whether it’s on Twitter, Instagram, blog commenting, YouTube, Facebook groups, or anything other than Snapchat. You find out what space they spend their time in, and you contribute to its greatness. (This is also how I got my gig at Lifehacker).
Needless to say I’ve connected with Daniel twice. Once for my ebook, and another recent connection for a soon to be published guest post on one of those big name blogs everyone talks about.
4. Reach Out The Right Way
I’ve released a 16 minute-ish free video training on this. In it I show you how I reached out (cold) to 5 influencers (Neil Patel, Darren Rowse, etc.) with a template pitch and they all responded.
Click here to see it now, keep reading to get the short version.
I’ve been pitching to influencers for years now. Like I said before, as a professional hired blogger it was a part of the job description. Here are the 4 main takeaways of successfully pitching to influencers, especially cold pitching to top level Influencers.
Hint: Use emailhunter.co to search for anyone’s email.
- Lead with your ethos. i.e. “Hey Mark. My name is Tori Reid (you might recognize me from Huffington Post)” <— ding ding ding, confident mention of ethos. If you feel like you don’t have credibility I promise you do and you need to recognize when you’re holding yourself back, which would be right now. I started with nothing, just like you. Don’t tell me you can’t succeed at this. It’s bullshit. You’re out here building a business with something because you know something. You have insight others don’t have. You have experiences others don’t have. You have a vision others don’t have. You’re learning but that doesn’t discredited what you’ve already learned. Use it. For those of you starting out this may take some serious soul searching, but you need to do it, because it’s in there and the first step to success that no one talks about is knowing yourself.
- Clearly state your purpose. Don’t beat around the bush or take forever getting to this point. Respect peoples’ time and let them know what you’re working on up front. Leading with your long-winded overall vision will deplete, not fuel, their motivation to continue a conversation with you.
- What’s In It For Me? Everyone wants to know and influencers are no different. If you don’t have a following and exposure to offer in return you’ll have to dig. Perhaps you can give them your product for free to check out in return for a review or testimonial. Maybe you’ll have to invite them to contribute to your guest post submission for another website with a huge readership rather than your own. If you’ve done your research you should know their sideline interests. Maybe they’ve mentioned liking gifts and you know tickets to Hamilton will tickle their fancy. Whatever the case may be prepare to state this without being asked (because they won’t ask. They’ll just ignore you).
- KISS Whatever you’re asking of an influencer on your first 1-3 interactions with them need to be so simple it takes them two minutes to contribute to your cause. Clicking a share button, offering a quote for an article. Things of that nature. Only when you get better acquainted with them can you start to ask for more and expect an ROI (unless those tickets to Hamilton are really worthwhile).
Starting out you will be met with rejection more often than not. In fact, it’s psychological and has been proven in sales and marketing time and again. Said fact is the entire reason the Facebook Pixel was even invented: people usually need to see your face, brand, offer, etc. 5-7 times before they actually care about what you have to say.
Ignore the “usually” and assume that will always be the case. And this isn’t just influencers. This is all people.
You have two choices when faced with rejection:
- Whine in a corner while everyone else surpasses you.
- Thank the influencer with grace if they respond and keep along the path you’ve set for yourself to connect with them eventually.
Which will you choose?
If you like this post and you use a blog to help your business you’ll really love the free “Influencer Blogging” training video I mentioned earlier.
Good luck in all your endeavors, friends.