No business exists in a vaccum, and this includes your brand! Success is faster, easier, and much more fun when you team with others.
However, pitching and working with the brands and companies you love requires a strategy! The good news is, there are some basic fundamentals to building relationships and positioning yourself so that you can become more visible to drive the growth and exposure you want.
This post originated on Scaling Retail by Syama Meagher. Head on over to read more on this topic.
1) Identify the right brands to work with, there is a wrong way and a right way to choose brand collaborations.
There are many potential collaborations out there, but who is the right fit for you?
Before starting any sort of outreach, create a wish list of partners and collaborators that you'd like to worth with. Be realistic, if you're just starting out and have a very small following it is not likely that you'll successfully partner with Nordstrom (yet). However, that doesn't mean you should stay well within your league! Be sure to add a few "shoot for the stars" options to your list as well.
How do I know who to choose for my list?
Who you choose depends on your positioning, as well as understanding your own brand. What brands do you aspire to be more like? They don't have to be in your industry, (think Virgin, Airbnb, Apple, Anthropologie, etc.)
What kind of content do you like to produce? Truly understanding your own brand and what you would like to bring to the table will give you the right foundation to identify whom you should partner with.
If I don't know these answers, how do I start to find out?
Ask your customers! Your customers love to tell you what they think, (especially if it comes with a special incentive or freebie).
Sign up for our Free 5 Day Course - 5 Steps to Scaling Your Apparel & Accessories business online.
2. Identify What You Have to Offer - And package it attractively!
What is your USP (Ultimate Selling Proposition)? This not only applies to your products and content (imagery, videos, blogs, etc.) but also your resources (existing brand ambassadors, influencers and supporters) and your audience (email list, social media, etc.)
- Do you have amazing images and high engagement?
- Do you have a lot of followers who regularly click the links in your posts and profile?
- Perhaps you have a very small targeted audience that is extremely engaged and loyal?
Whatever it may be, your value will likely be glossed over by others if it's not packaged and presented well. Create a PDF with an overview of your brand, a bio about yourself, beautiful imagery of your products and lifestyle imagery that encompasses your brand. Be sure to also include information about your audience.
Handful, knows how to present the lifestyle and ethos of their brand, alongside their product imagery to help customers and collaborators understand and identify with the Handful bra customer.
It's also a great idea to identify and include the types of brands your followers are interested in outside of you, this will help potential partner brands see if they are a good fit with you.
3. Be Very Clear on What You Want from a Brand Collaboration
Being realistic and knowledgeable about what you bring to the table will ensure you’re working with brands that align with you goals and your brand aesthetic. Syama Meagher recommends, put yourself in their shoes and ask, “If I was this brand, would I want to work with my brand?” Be realistic!
Note that for big brands that you really want to work with, consider featuring their products prior to reaching out. Consider how you may feel if someone reached out to you to partner, and had never exhibited any sort of support or interest in you before?
4. Get Ready to Pitch Your Opportunity
This is not a one-time activity. As your following and business grows, pitching should become a part of your daily routine. It's important to know as you are preparing to pitch. You have something that people want, and you are helping that person find you!
Pitching can include anything from reaching out and cold emailing brands to sending Direct Messages on social media. Of course, getting introductions is always the best way. But do not let a lack of warm intros stop you from putting yourself out there.
Make sure you only pitch to brands that make sense. This means they too would benefit from collaborating with you to share their product with your readers. If you are selling handbags, it may not make much sense to pitch to an electronics company, unless your handbags had features or accessories specific to their product.
It's easy to get caught up, and loose the targeting and authentic presentation. This is when you start to seem "salesy." So take a moment before you reach out to each brand to refine your message, add a personal touch, and exude your own vibes and casual confidence without overselling yourself or your brand.
Pitching Success Tips:
- Highlight your best social media platforms first. Demonstrate that you know your audience well.
- Don’t discuss pricing right off the bat, even if they ask right away. Postpone budget discussions until you are really there. I recommend ensuring they are an actual qualified opportunity. This means there is a timeline, a defined budget (even if you don't know what it is), and a decision maker is aware of the project.
- Consider not having one set rate for all collaborations and instead offer tiered pricing and al la carte options to appeal to brands seeking flexibility or smaller activations.
- You need to be willing to start small and work your way up! Small collaborations will show brands what they can expect from a partnership with you, so make them count! You can also learn how to best engage your audience for these types of collaborations.
Remember to think about other strategic opportunities aside from great brand fit. In this article on Scaling Retail, Syama discusses why retail needs both eCommerce and brick and mortar to survive.
5. Building Your Perceived Value
The value of anything is based on what others perceive it to be.
Remember, it takes time to build your portfolio, so start small and work your way up.
Building your brand is a long-term decision that is essential to success. So don’t be afraid to be aggressive and diligent in ensuring you’re working with brands you love! Put yourself out there, in a smart and strategic way.
You will learn even more helpful tips on how to optimize, grow and promote your apparel, accessories and fashion business.