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Why Working With Creators Can Be Like Dating

It may take a bit of wooing to catch their eye initially.

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Some content creators may only accept about 10-15% of the projects they are approached with. Projects that spark their interest include:

  • Partnering with a brand that they actually like, use and makes sense for the content they’re already producing (i.e. if a creator makes cupcake videos for a living, don’t approach her to work with a diet product)
  • An opportunity to show something new to their audience (i.e. PayPal gave one creator the chance to travel to the North Pole using only PayPal instead of any cash or credit)
  • An opportunity to do something they believe in (i.e. one big-time creator waived her fee to work with a brand that gave her a global platform to tell her story about the cause she believed in most)
  • Having creative freedom (i.e. giving them a script will turn them away immediately)
  • Doing something that will make all parties happy – creator, their audience and the brand

Creators recommend that brands do their research before reaching out. Know what the creator is all about, what he/she stands for, the type of work they do and how engaged their audience is. These are all good indicators that a brand partnership would be a good fit, much more so than only looking at number of subscribers. 

Get to know each other before diving into a relationship.

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When working with a new creator, there should be a discovery phase where the brand and the creator get to know each other on a more personal level. Each should ask the other to define themselves and what they believe in, beyond products and sales. This ensures that the collaboration produces something meaningful for both parties.

When Elise Strachan from My Cupcake Addition worked with Nestlé Toll house, she said that one of her most productive meetings was with their CMO before the videos were even created. It helped Elise understand what was important to Nestlé, and after the videos were created, in a very rare move, there were no notes from the brand other than “approved”!

Set expectations early.

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The relationship will surely run into problems if expectations aren’t clear from the start. Both brands and creators agree that there are potential sticky points that should be discussed as early as possible, such as:

  • Brand integration: How do you expect the brand to be integrated (i.e. product name, product shot, brand logo, big sign with logo in background of entire video, etc)?
  • Revisions: How many rounds of revisions do you expect (i.e. daily vloggers don’t typically make many (if any) revisions to their videos in order to publish one a day)?
  • Feedback: What areas of the video are open to comments and revisions (i.e. messaging, logo placement, etc)?
  • Cost implication: If more revisions are required or additional feedback comes in, how will creators be compensated?
  • Exclusivity: What level of exclusivity do you expect (i.e. category, length of time, etc)?
  • Payment: When and how will creators be compensated? Some creators may require payment prior to creating their video because they use the money for production, however, depending on the video, it may be ok to pay them after the video is complete

Be yourself.

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The reason we use the word “creators” as opposed to “influencers” in this form of marketing is because this particular set of people are creators first and foremost. They may be influential online, but more importantly, they are writers, actors and producers. They want to work with brands that give them the freedom to create videos in a way that is authentic to who they are.

Tips for encouraging creativity include:

  • No scripts: No creator wants you to write a script for them. They don’t want you to tell them what to say or how to say it.
  • Provide inspiration: Give them creative elements to inspire their own work. For example, one creator made a brand tagline into a song, but another worked a product into one of his practical jokes
  • Other creators: If you’re considering partnering with additional creators, ask them whom they admire or would like to work with. This approach will benefit your relationship and the overall collaboration

Both parties can learn from each other.

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Brands can learn a lot from working with a creator. For example, most creators are experts at understanding audience engagement. You may want to ask the creator to look at the analytics on your channel to help you understand what’s working and what isn’t. This will not only educate the brand as marketers, but also inform the content that is produced as a result of the collaboration.

Similarly, creators want to learn from brands. Brands should not hesitate to share analytics and learnings from the partnership with the creator. In some instances, creators noted that they never heard from a brand again after doing collaboration. Let the creator know what you were happy with and what you weren’t, so that they can apply it to future collaborations with other brands. 

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