Over the past year and a half, I’ve been very lucky to collaborate with brands that have been on my wish list. I often get asked, ‘How do you land your dream partnership?’ So today I’m sharing the strategic steps that I follow. Since my immediate response to those who ask about partnerships is, “Who is on your wish list?”, I’m going to start there.
One. Create A List of Your Dream Partnerships.
You might be able to list two or three goals right off the bat, but I believe it’s essential to outline at least five partnerships that truly align with your brand. For example, Lavin Label’s style is bright, airy and traditional, so I wouldn’t be a good fit for a dark, rustic or contemporary brand. Spend some quality time thinking about who your dream partnerships are and write them down! It’s amazing the impact that physically writing your goals down can have.
Two. Engage With Them On A Regular Basis.
One of my dream partnerships was Southern Living. I spent time reading their blog, magazine and website on a daily basis. I left comments on their blog, shared content and engaged with Southern Living across multiple social media platforms. You want them to know who you are and what you do before you reach out the first time. I have a spreadsheet of my top five dream collaborations, where I list out their social media accounts and update it on a quarterly basis. I make it a priority each week to read and react to their content. But remember to always be genuine and sincere. This is just like trying to build a relationship in person, or even at a conference. It’s best to narrow your focus to five partnerships each quarter, that way you’ll make a bigger impact on each one!
Tip: If your target company has a really large following, find their least engaging social media platform and spend some time creating a relationship via that channel.
Three. Build Your Network.
Once you identify your top five, find out who works there and start to follow them individually on Instagram. Find the editors, social media coordinators, marketing folks, etc. and interact with their social content on weekly basis. Remember that spreadsheet that listed my top five collabs and their social channels? I added each key person that I could find and listed their accounts as well. Again, interact with them using their least engaging social channel to make the biggest possible impact. The goal is for them to be familiar with your brand.
Tip: You can find these folks through Linked In, Google Search and their feeds on social media. I view Instagram and Twitter as a public rolodex. Southern Living is surely following their editors and vice versa. Editors are usually following their photographers and other colleagues. Get the point? Yes, it does take time but if you’re serious about working with a top brand, then you have to make the time. This is what sets you apart from every other person that reaches out to them.
Four. Ask What You Can Do For Them.
I think so often we think, “me, me, me”, but if you don’t offer value to these brands, then this relationship won’t flourish. Trust me. After completing steps one through three, you should know inside-and-out what their brand is about. Use this information to craft an email, Instagram message, etc. on how you specifically can benefit their brand. Don’t just shoot off a generic press kit or recent idea you came up with. Make sure you list what they are getting out of a potential partnership with you so they can readily see how they would benefit.
Five. Ask What You Can Do For Them!
No, this is not a typo! If you want your partnership to last, continue to think about what you can do for them. If you don’t get a response, continue to pitch ideas and engage with them. It may even require you to rethink your approach and come up with a more appealing offer. I had to reach out to Pinterest over five times before they said yes to having me create pins for their clients!
I figured I’d briefly share what I relay over coffee to some of my friends who are trying to start their own business. I’ve made so many friends and mentors throughout this process that have truly made the difference! Remember to enjoy the journey! Most of the time the journey is more rewarding + informative than the outcome!
Let me know your thoughts and tips!