These days, sponsored content is becoming more popular especially as contextual (or more targeted advertising) becomes a more effective means for brands to reach consumers in a less disruptive manner.
Often brands will look for blogs to sponsor but there are other times when you may want to be proactive and propose a sponsorship idea to them instead. Where do you start and how do you put your best foot forward? Let’s say you love a new free-trade chocolate or non-stick baking pans and have a great idea of how to feature it on your blog (and social networks) but don’t want to wait for the brand to approach you. Have you ever thought of reaching out and asking them to sponsor you but weren’t sure how?
Put yourself in their shoes and remember you’re approaching someone who most likely develops business pitches on a regular basis. Their expectations are high, especially if you’re asking them to make a significant investment in your blog and social networks. Here are some tips to help you pitch like a pro:
Get your blog and social networks in tiptop shape
Top 10 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Working With Brands provides tips to help attract brands and the PR consultants who represent them.
Build a relationship
The importance of relationship building can’t be overstated. The more you get to know each other before you ask them to invest in you, the better. Think about how much more receptive you are to requests from brand representatives you already know and love compared to requests from those you don’t. Do your research, show you understand their business and why your blog is the perfect fit (e.g. you share weekly cookie recipes.) Be polite, helpful and easy to work with every step of the way.
Think like a business
If you want to be treated like a business, you need to act like one. I’ve met a lot of bloggers who approach PR consultants or brands asking for money without wanting to put in any effort. Quite frankly, if you’re expecting a business to take you seriously, you’ll need to think like they do. Be professional. Show them you’ve invested time and effort, earn their confidence and trust in your work.
Deliver a clear and succinct plan. Explain exactly what you are asking for upfront and specify what you will deliver in return. Make sure to answer the five W’s:
- Who is your audience (e.g. cookie lovers who prefer fair trade chocolate)
- What type of content you’ll produce (including any support you’ll need from them such as product samples, logos and images) and what type of reporting they can expect from you in return (daily? weekly? at the end of the campaign? etc.) and what that entails (e.g. metrics, screenshots)
- When you’ll produce content (e.g. number of times – three blog posts, photos and tweets; dates – April 3, 10, 17; duration – three weeks)
- Where you’ll share content (e.g. your blog, other relevant blogs and/or social networks; be sure to include all names and URLS)
- Why this sponsorship makes sense for their business and what they can expect it to achieve (e.g. raises awareness of new fair trade chocolate, includes a call to action that drives downloads of brand’s new fair trade chocolate recipe eBook)
Demonstrate value. Be prepared to provide measurement and results such as:
- Current stats including audience reach for your blog (e.g. monthly visitors, comments) and other social channels Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.)
- Case studies or examples of past successes – a brief paragraph with relevant links, screenshots and results go a long way.
Be humble and don’t flaunt or make false claims
Be passionate and creative. Explain why you’re their “perfect” brand ambassador. It helps if you can point them to places you’ve already mentioned or highlighted their product or service online.
Show your creativity. Give them a taste of how you’ve shaped past campaigns or some of the ideas you have to feature their products.
Pay attention to your writing. Good grammar and spelling matter, and both are expected in the workplace. Being an accomplished storyteller is one thing but if your writing is full of spelling errors and typos, it may result in you being denied the opportunity of your dreams.
So you’ve followed all the tips and submitted a fantastic proposal. Now what?
Stay positive and be prepared for anything, including rejection. Hopefully, you’ll initiate a perfect sponsorship deal and have a marketing package you can reuse another time. However, there are as many reasons your sponsorship proposal may be rejected. Maybe your vision doesn’t fit with the brand’s objectives, the timing doesn’t work or there’s no budget. No matter how wonderful your proposal is and how great an opportunity you’re offering, they may not share your vision. Understand where the brand reps are coming from and handle their feedback with grace. You’ll want to leave doors open for other opportunities in the future.
Have you pitched brands before? If so, what challenges or successes have you experienced? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Eden Spodek is a digital communications strategist with a unique perspective on emerging media. Client-side, agency-side and high profile blogger and community builder, she’s seen the digital world from all sides. Most recently, Eden added curriculum developer/instructor to her role with the launch a new Digital Strategy & Communications Management certificate program at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. She’s happiest helping colleagues and clients to be a little disruptive, challenging the status quo and how people think about brands. Eden is also outspoken about the importance of building online engagement and targeted relationships, one influencer at a time. Eden is based in Toronto and can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram where she loves sharing photos of her adventures in food.