1. 2021 will be very different; update your pitch to incorporate and reflect “the new normal.”
There are very few, if any, industries that have not been hampered by the serious effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Brands are going to be looking for ways to turbo-charge their business in the new environment of doing business. This means that Influencers must recognize that new requirement and adapt their message to fit in with the changing space.
For example, if you’re a travel blogger who’s typically received comped packages to visit a resort and write glowing articles about your stay, that pitch probably won’t work as well in 2021 as it did in 2019. You need to understand what the resort’s new business model looks like. Are they targeting a different type of clientele? Are they putting more emphasis on hosting conventions and even one-day business meetings? Are they working with a select few travel companies to send business their way?
How do you find this out? Call the Marketing Manager—don’t send an impersonal email—and ask those questions. They’ll be more than happy to tell you, plus your targeted pitch will now come from a “known source” and will have a much higher probability of being accepted
2. Brands will be more selective; lead off with your absolute best material.
As an Influencer, your business was probably hurt in 2020 the same as the Brands that you’ve pitched in the past. They are going to be more selective in the people they work with, and the projects they accept, as they try to determine what the new business environment looks like. What does this mean for you?
Forget about sending the same pitches that got you business in the past. Do your research; read up on the industry you’re pitching and make sure you’ve updated your pitch to be more focused, more fine-tuned, to how that industry is changing. Show them that you understand their new situation, and that you have the plan that will help them achieve their new goals.
3. Realize that while brands still want—and need— to work with influencers, their budgets will likely be smaller than before.
Just because your income from working with Brands probably suffered a serious decline in 2020, do not expect that you will make it all up in 2021. Or even in 2022, or if ever. The Brands you’ve worked with in the past will likely have smaller marketing budgets, meaning they will not be able to take on the same number of projects that they have in the past.
So even while you’ve done #s 1 and 2 above, your pitches still might not get accepted when they would have been before. One way around this is to offer them some free work that, of course, is in the initial part of your pitched project. This lets them try you “for free,” and hopefully they’ll see the positive results that help them decide to accept your full project.
4. Consider joining forces with a complementary Influencer to multiply your effectiveness and reach.
You’ve been successful as an Influencer in the past, so that should keep you going. Right? Maybe, but probably not. As we’ve seen above already, 2021 will be much different for Brands, and for Influencers. Why not give yourself, and another Influencer, a huge advantage by teaming up and marketing yourselves as a pair? Perhaps you’re not as formidable as Batman and Robin, but bringing two Influencers to the game will definitely set you apart from others.
The key to making this strategy successful isn’t to team up with someone who’s just like you. That actually shows weakness. The best thing to do is to find someone whose talents complement yours. Back to the travel blogger from #1. You have a faithful following on Facebook and Twitter, but you’re weak on Instagram and YouTube. Find someone who is really good on those platforms, and create a powerful offering that essentially provides the Brands with two experts instead of just one! That really is a “hard to refuse” offer!
5. A “No” in 2021 might not mean what it meant before; dig deep to find out why your pitch was not accepted; then make it better!
We’re all used to hearing “No” for an answer to our pitches, and we typically move on to the next prospect. Make a change in your process in 2021, and ask for some clarification on why you’ve been refused. Don’t just ask, “Why not?” That sounds like a teenager who didn’t get his way. Try a different approach.
Call if possible to your contact, and say something like, “I fully accept your answer, but so I can have a better chance the next time I contact you, will you share with me one or two key points that, if done better, might have put me in a better position?” Once you have that information, read between the lines and make your own determination if the refusal was about price, content, methodology, or presentation. Then send a nice thank you letter (hand written if possible) to that person showing your sincere appreciation for the feedback. Finally, incorporate the changes into how your next proposal is developed and presented.
Stuart Gustafson has had the U.S. Registered Trademark America’s International Travel Expert® for over ten years. An author, experienced cruise ship speaker, and frequent traveler, his travels and other opportunities, like those of so many others, were severely curtailed in 2020. He looks forward to “getting back out there” again in 2021. View his books and his travels at www.stuart gustafson.com.