You’ve done your homework and found the perfect influencers to help spread the word about your brand. Now comes the important part: Actually reaching out to them, and making the connection that marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship. I have written previously about the importance of influencers in B2B marketing, along with 5 steps for reaching out to them.
But much like the junior high schooler who waits on the sidelines at the spring formal to ask a crush to dance — and then manages to botch the whole thing once he finally gets up the courage — too many marketers shoot themselves in the foot by making the initial outreach awkward (at best) or annoying. Although failures are inevitable in influencer marketing (no matter how awesome you are, there will be some influencers who aren’t interested), if you’re getting more rejections than connections, the issue could be with how you’re approaching people.
So how do you know if you’re being awkward in your outreach? If you’re making any of these mistakes, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
1. You Fangirl/Boy
Ok, so you really do love the blogger’s stuff. It’s inspiring, life-changing, all that jazz. But if your pitch is mostly about trying to stroke someone’s ego to get them to like you and talk about you, that’s probably going to fail.
Now, there are probably going to be some influencers who love hearing how great they are. But sucking up and trying to win over a blogger with flattery is probably not going to get you too far. Remember, influencers are real people, and they have real goals for their content, just like you. They aren’t going to talk about something just because you showed up and told them how amazing they are.
Don’t take this to mean that you can’t compliment influencers, though. Steven Seigel, founder of The Luxury Team says brands need to be authentic, and focus on the specifics about why they are impressed with a given influencer and want to work with them.
“Be specific, topic-focused, and most of all, real,” says Seigel. “Influencers are no different than me and you and can tell when people are just blowing smoke to get something out of you, so make a point of being real and not heaping on the praise.”
2. You Don’t Follow Directions
Influencers are busy. This is their job, and as their profile expands, they don’t have a lot of time to sift through irrelevant, verbose, or repeated pitches. In fact, because so many receive so many pitches, they have outlined specific instructions on how to best reach them. Online marketing expert Neil Patel, for instance, has a very detailed contact page that not only gives insight into his inbox, but also the types of messages he responds to — and what he will ignore. Not only that, but he specifically asks for a short and sweet message, and if you send one that’s too long, you’ll receive a request to shorten it.
Now, Patel might be a major influencer, and his instructions might be more in-depth than others, but he is a prime example of why you need to do your research and follow instructions. If an influencer asks for a short message, or for you to Tweet him or her, or to only make pitches related to three specific topics, you need to do that. Otherwise, you are wasting everyone’s time and likely to be rejected or ignored. Keep doing it? You’ll probably annoy the influencer to the point where he or she will never work with you.
3. You Only Focus on What You Want
It’s no secret that when you connect with influencers, you want something from them — a mention, a sponsored post, a share, etc. But do you think about what’s in it for them? Influencers aren’t going to talk about you just because you asked them to. They have objectives and goals of their own, and unless your pitch aligns with them, you are out of luck. Your pitch, then, should focus less on what YOU want from the relationship, and more on what THEY can gain by working with you.
This same principle applies when you’re connecting with influencers on social media. Don’t be the person who only comments on blogs, Facebook posts, or other group posts to pitch your company or product. Offer opinions, ask questions, and build a real relationship to get the right kind of attention and make people want to work with you.
Reaching out to someone for the first time is often inherently awkward. Will they like you? Will they think you’re a weirdo? What if I say the wrong thing? But if you tailor your pitches, focus on being real, and actually building a relationship — not just a business transaction — you’ll be significantly less awkward and more successful.