The allure of doing brand partnerships becomes ever-present as you grow as a content creator. After having spent years building something, there will come a day where brands want to work with you. It’s actually a very important step in a creators digital lives because it’s a stepping stone from hobby to career. Working with brands is a great way to grow as a creator. It is also beneficial to your audience if you’ve done it correctly. Done incorrectly though and you risk undoing the thing that has taken years to build – trust with your audience.
There are a lot of positive things that can come from doing brand deals. Some of these things include:
- They can often pay, which enables you to spend more time creating content/pay your bills.
- They can offer product, which can enable you to create better content or exclusive content.
- They can provide experiences, that can be interesting content (and memories for life.)
- They can give you something to giveaway to your audience.
That said, your partners need to meet certain requirements. It ties back into the trust you’ve spent building with your audience. If they think you’re just taking any product that comes your way and promoting it… you’re going to be tuned out. To give you a general idea on how brand partnerships should go, I want to walk you through the steps. When any brand comes to me to talk about partnership opportunities, the end question I have to ask myself is ‘Does this create value?’. It seems an easy question, but it’s actually quite complex.
The Necessities of Successful Brand Partnerships
Love the Brand
The first thing you need when it comes to a brand partnership is an affinity for the brand itself. I’ve seen so many creators take on partnerships with brands they’ve publicly bashed and it makes me embarrassed for them. Whenever I’ve worked with a brand, it’s because I absolutely love the product that I’ve agreed to use/share/represent. Many years ago MiO came out, and I fell in love with it immediately – the lemonade one especially. When they came to me with a partnership opportunity, it was a no-brainer, I had been publicly sharing my love for it for weeks so it was a natural fit. Your brand partners should excite you and be the kind of thing you share without being paid/rewarded. If you wouldn’t spend your own money on it, don’t partner with it.
As previously mentioned, it’s important for your values to align well with your brand partnerships. In my case, it’s important to deliver quality content that doesn’t betray your trust in me. Any brand that I work with needs to respect and understand that at the end of the day the audience matters most. Secondly, alignment is also about what the brand stands for. A year ago, a brand wanted to hire me to go to restaurants, eat/drink for free, and periodically use one of their vape sticks in the restos. There was no nicotine in it, and was simply heated and flavoured vegetable oil. Ultimately, it wasn’t a good alignment because I felt it was too similar looking to cigarettes. While it wouldn’t have the same effects of those cancer sticks, it emulated it – and I didn’t want to be part of that. Pick brand deals that align with your life and your beliefs.
This is where a lot of brand partnerships come to an end because of the negotiations. Delivering value is one of the hardest things to come to terms because everyone wants to get the most from it. The brand obviously wants value from the partnership – they want mentions, views and hopefully sales. The more coverage you provide, the more opportunity they have to get that value. Personally, a brand deal needs to have value for you too. Will the deal help you to create content, help you advance as a creator, help pay your bills or give you a great memory/experience? Balancing the value between the brand and yourself is hard enough – but here’s where it gets harder…
You as a creator also NEED to consider the value you will deliver to your audience. This is something too many creators forget and it’s why you see so much crappy content about picnics and booze – they don’t consider the end reader (are there even any?) Think about it deeply… will this brand deal provide value to someone reading? If you were a reader, would this help improve your life? I read so much content and immediately know if they care at all about the audience or not – the sad trend is they don’t. Not in Toronto anyway. If you’re not creating the same value for your reader that you are for the brand or for yourself, you are doing your audience a disservice and they are not going to want to read your future content. Deliver value to ALL parties.
The last thing that’s up for discussion when I do brand deals is the execution – I want to know the messaging they want me to share, and I want them to know that my words HAVE to remain my own. It can be a weird line to walk, but in order to maintain your trust with the audience, you DO need to be fair and balanced. This is especially true with reviews where you’re sharing your experience – if there’s a flaw, you need to let your audience know. If someone reading buys a product on your suggestion, and it turns out not to work as you said… gone is your integrity.
When doing brand partnerships, understand that you should be saying no to potential offers a lot more than you say yes. You should always think about your audience and the trust they have in you. Lastly, you should consider how your potential brand partnerships are moving the needle. Brand partnerships aren’t done at a whim, they require time, effort and proper consideration to execute correctly – so treat them with that in mind.