Shannon: Welcome everybody to today’s webinar. My name is Shannon. I’m the Founder of Marketplace Seller Courses, which are online courses, tools and resources for Amazon sellers.
With me today, I have a very special guest Brigette Young. Brigette has been a professional marketer for over 15 years. After graduating from USC, she worked in entertainment as a promotions manager and marketing manager across multiple media platforms.
Brigette is currently the founder and CEO of The Modern Muse Company, a full service marketing agency with a focus on marketing partnerships and event marketing and she recently completed all third party marketing for Luzia by Cirque du Soleil in Los Angeles and works with startups, international brands and everything in between.
Brigette enjoys flag football, which I love, and enjoys traveling internationally. So Brigette and I actually have a unique back story. We worked together at a company called Instant Live owned by Live Nation. It has got to be like 11, 12, 13 years ago. It was a long time ago and we basically held each other’s hands and walked each other through sanity. But really a cool company. It was so much fun. Such a great company to be a part of and Brigette and I have kept in touch ever since.
So it has been neat to reconnect recently. Brigette, thank you so much for being on the webinar today.
Brigette: Thanks for the opportunity. I’m very excited to talk to everybody.
Shannon: Absolutely. So I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. There’s a handful that I really want to cover. What we’re going to talk about today is partnership marketing to launch and grow a brand on Amazon. So it’s so critical and there’s just so few good resources out there that after talking to Brigette about this, we went through. We put together a strategy and a layout to talk about the things that are going to make the biggest difference for brand owners selling on Amazon.
So I actually want to take a few minutes to kind of paint the picture first Brigette and talk about why this is so critical to Amazon and then I’m going to kind of hand it off to you with some questions to take over.
So the reason that partnership marketing or cross-promotion marketing, as we will kind of get into, is so critical for Amazon sellers is there are three main reasons why it would be crucial.
One is if you had an innovative product where there is no SEO. So if you do the SEO human research and just nobody is looking for it because they don’t know it exists. There’s just no way that you’re going to launch that product on Amazon. It’s just going to sit there. You have to find a way off Amazon to get that product in front of relevant audiences and that’s exactly what partnership marketing does,
The second thing that you’re going to need it for is to launch new products. So we find a lot of times people get their pages all optimized. They’re all ready to go. They’ve got a feedback tool like FeedbackFive integrated, ready to get product reviews. But nobody is buying it initially. So they don’t have any organic traffic yet and again partnership marketing off Amazon is a great way to drive that initial traffic to the product. There are tons of incredible ways to do that, that are very cost-effective, that are completely in line with Amazon’s terms of service. Everything that we will cover today will be along those lines.
The third reason is really high competition. So I’ve worked with a couple of brands and companies where the products literally are head to head for a best seller. If you’re in Amazon, there’s only so much you can do. There’s only so much you can optimize your listing. There’s only so much you can do to run the campaigns and you can bid as high as you want. But you’re always playing within the Amazon ecosphere.
So really gives you a competitive advantage to get outside of the Amazon ecosphere and drive that external traffic into Amazon to be able to take the lead and make a huge difference. So it’s great for brand new products, innovative products and even established brands who want to grow their Amazon influence.
So that said, Brigette take us through what partnership marketing is and why partnership marketing is so critical.
Brigette: Sure. Shannon, you made a lot of really good points as to why you need to promote off-site off of Amazon, in addition to what you’re doing on Amazon. Partnership marketing is important and the reason that we’re focusing on that today is because anyone can do it.
You don’t have to have a big budget. What you have to do is leverage your network, your personal network and your professional network. So anyone can do partnership marketing. It’s just about putting a little though and creativity into it.
It doesn’t have to cost anything or it can cost very little. It’s great if you have a marketing budget. But not everybody does, especially start-ups. So this is an opportunity for people to just leverage what they have and who they know and come up with a marketing plan that can really benefit their sales across the board.
Another reason to engage in partnership marketing is especially if you’re a new brand and you sort of don’t have clout. It can build trust. So it can help your audience understand what you’re about, what your values are, what you’re trying to do and what service or product you offer.
So it’s another just way of creating some trust and some loyalty with your customers and creating awareness for your brand at the same time.
Shannon: Yeah, that’s huge. I know that reading about YETI, when they were kicking off the YETI coolers and what evolved into YETI tumblers, they were just saying that partnership marketing and those cross-promotions were huge to launch the company because again, just relying and having to do it all yourself is so hard. If we can tie in to somebody who already has a built-in audience, there’s already built-in trust, and you – like you said, you just negotiate an outcome that will be beneficial for both parties. It can be very cost-effective and just very effective in general. It gets away from the C2C model or it’s a great addition to the C2C model.
Brigette: And yeah, that’s a great example because that’s a product that until you’ve tried it, you might hear that they’re great. But until you tried it and you find out that they really are great, that’s the product that it was very smart of them to market themselves in that way.
Shannon: Yeah. So let’s go ahead and talk a little bit about some of the specific types. So now we kind of have an idea of what partnership marketing is and why it’s important. Let’s talk about the specific opportunities that exist for both emerging and established brands when it comes to partnership marketing. So lay that out for us.
Brigette: So the best way I can explain this especially to anybody who might be a little bit inexperienced in marketing is just with sort of an analogy, a story.
The story I chose is really simplistic because it shows how easy it can be just to use the resources that you have to create a – you know, as big of a campaign as you would like to with different sort of components that we will go into a little bit.
So the example that I chose, because it is quite simple and straightforward, is in a small town, you have two brands. A boutique brand of peanut butter and a boutique brand of jelly.
Both of them have their existing customers and they do just fine. But they’ve decided that they really want to market themselves further. They decided that together, they can be stronger than individually. Well, of course peanut butter and jelly go quite well together. So there’s no real path of resistance there for them.
But what they come up with is that they’re going to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making competition. They’re going to invite the whole community to participate in this competition.
So when they’ve chosen a winner, the winner’s recipe will be featured on each of their websites. The winner’s recipe will be featured in local restaurants for a month. You know, just fun things to get the community engaged with the brand, which is really smart.
But they don’t want to stop there. They want to do a lot more. So they talk about how else they can integrate. They both have their own websites. They both have their own social media channels. They both have their own email databases. So what can they do?
They can put information about that joint event on all of those platforms and share as much information as often as it makes sense for them across their website, across social media and also via email blasts. They’re promoting both brands together for the event, not just their individual brand like they’ve done before.
So they’re starting to set the tone for this event. They could put – it could go as far as also adding if they have retail stores. They could put signage up on retail stores too. So there’s a lot of extensions of these brands that they can use to convey their message about this event. But really it’s about a larger partnership too.
So what else can they do? Well, they can host a giveaway, either on their own sites or they can register a new site or whatever it is. But they can come up with an idea to do a giveaway where one lucky winner wins a year’s supply of peanut butter and jelly. Now that’s cool enough. But they decided they also want to do – take one extra step, make it a little more special and they’re going to match that winner’s prize with providing the same amount to a local food shelter or a food kitchen or food bank. That’s what I’m looking for.
Brigette: Sure, food bank.
Shannon: So they can donate some food along with providing an exciting prize. Well now they have a giveaway and they have a place that they can collect opt-ins for – from their potential customers, save that information and use it in the future to market back to them. So now you have a giveaway component, which creates a little added excitement and it’s just something nice to do if there’s a charitable component as well, which I always recommend. Because why wouldn’t you do something nice? People love that on all sides.
So back to the event. They’re putting in a lot of time. The product is – you know, there’s some value there, so there’s some money going into it. Maybe not directly but in terms of product and labor and things like that. So they realize they probably need to offset some of their costs. Well, how can they do that? What’s something they’re going to need for this peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making competition?
Shannon: They’re going to need bread. There you go. So what are they going to do? They’re going to go to the local baker and ask him to provide the bread for their event. The baker says, “Sure. But what’s in it for me?” Well, what’s in it for him is that they can add his logo and his information to all of that beautiful collateral they’re developing around the event. So now that baker gets exposure, not to mention people are going to try his delicious bread in public.
Shannon: Well, and I was going to mention that. Like not only are they going to get a logo sponsorship, but it’s actually product donation as well. It’s actually what’s going to be used, so people are exposed to it not just from a marketing standpoint but an actual – we get to go and experience this as well. This is really great bread as well. But it also offsets – like you said, the physical cost. Not just I’m paying to put my logo up but I’m also providing some of the – whatever it is that needs to be used to make up and create the event.
Brigette: Right, and he doesn’t necessarily have to pay anything. You can charge for a sponsorship. So you can accept what’s called an in-kind sponsorship or somebody who just provides product or service. Both are totally great. It just depends on what your needs are.
So now you have somebody providing the bread, which is great. Then they realize, OK, well we need – for all these beautiful pieces of collateral we’re going to design and print, we need somebody to help us also with the cost of that.
So they reach out to their local person who owns a design and print shop and she says, “Yes, I will do it. I’ve got you.” Why is she doing it? She just happens to be a huge fan of peanut butter and jelly. You will find that when you reach out to people and communicate what you’re looking to do, sometimes that’s all it takes. They just happen to like what you’re doing for one reason or another.
So now they’ve got some of those costs covered, which really helps with their event. So that’s sponsorship.
Another layer is PR. So that’s media and also influencers. So now that they have their events and they’ve structured what their integration is going to look like with promotion of the event and everything like that, now the organizers decide they’re going to reach out to local media.
So that could be the local TV station, the newspaper. It could be – you know, if there’s a local chapter next door or blog or whatever it is, any sort of media that they have access to.
They’re going to reach out and tell them about the event. Why? Because they want them to share that information. So they’re going to ask the media to share but they’re going to do something even smarter. They’re going to ask three of their local television news anchors to be the judges for the event, for this peanut butter and jelly sandwich competition.
Now why would they do that? They would do that because if the anchors are going to participate, they’re going to be more personally invested in sharing that information. They’re going to push the TV station to share more because they’re a part of it.
So just that personalization. Anytime that you can give somebody the opportunity to share something and make them feel good about it, that’s always a great thing to do.
They’re also going to reach out to a couple of moms in the community who they know are very prominent and run playgroups for the kids. These are the moms that know everything that’s going on and they’re going to tell those moms, “Hey, we’re having this event. We think it would be really great if you came out,” and the moms are going to say, “Sure. That sounds a lot of fun. My kids would love it. How can I help?”
Now you’ve got influencers because those moms can share that information too. The key with influencers is that it doesn’t have to be the biggest network. It just has to be the right network. So did you want to add to that?
Shannon: Well, yeah. I was going to say has to be the right network. It also has to be an engaged network because you can say I’ve got a million and a half followers. But that’s completely irrelevant. I would rather have a thousand – an influencer with a thousand followers, that are highly dedicated with a very strong correlation in terms of the overlap versus somebody who has got half a million and I’m going to get a tweet or something and that’s going to go past everybody and we’re never going to hear from any of those people again.
So I think the – how close it can match the audience and then how engaged they are. It’s actually way more important than the size of the audience.
Brigette: It truly is. So that’s just something to keep in mind is the right people are always better than the biggest people. So now you have some outreach to media. You’ve got our influencers and you’ve got your event. You’ve got your sponsorships. You’ve got your integrations. So all of these things happen. Let’s say everything goes wonderfully and you’re very, very happy with the way your event goes.
So what happens after that event and after this campaign? Well for one, now you have all the information, the opt-ins from the people who entered your sweepstakes. So you probably have a lot more names to reach out to about your products and remember that both companies are getting them. Peanut butter and jelly companies are both getting these names.
So now everybody has more potential customers and more customers. You’ve got a lot of great photos circulating around. People undoubtedly took pictures of the event, shared them, talked about the event, hashtag. Hopefully you put together a good social media campaign around it. So now this information is out in the universe, which is going to make your job of putting the event on next year a lot easier because you have proof of concept.
Then of course at the end of the day, what you’re really looking for typically are three things. You’re looking for more awareness, more engagement and more sales for your brand.
In this particular case, you’ve covered all your different bases. So you very likely are going to see an increase in sales because you’ve reached people that you haven’t reached before.
So with all of that said, these are a lot of different touch points. You can sort of parse them out and choose one component of the integration or another or some combination thereof. But to give a comprehensive example, I felt it was important to sort of illustrate how these different components can play together very nicely and the more you’re able to layer things together, the more impressions you get and therefore you get a bigger reaction from your audience.
Shannon: Yeah. Well, one of the things I was going to mention in terms of the charitable contribution component, if you know any local food bank, you can even reach out to them and let them know to sponsor because the more they can promote it, obviously the more people attend. The more they’re able to get as well as it also creates more of an incentive for news coverage because the news likes to cover those types of things.
So they’re not just covering the event, but they’re covering the donation and really it’s a personal preference. But I like it when a charitable contribution really matches what the product or service is about, like if there’s actually a really strong correlation to it and not just like hey, we’re a big company. We sell or do this and we’re just writing a check for this thing.
It’s actually really cool when there’s an overlap and there’s sort of a common shared purpose or value or mission for it. You know, that’s my personal recommendation but –
Shannon: If you had any thoughts on that as well.
Brigette: No, I completely agree. I think the more that something thematically ties to a product or service, the better it is. The more it feels honest and authentic and organic, the more that people are going to respond to it. So absolutely and I didn’t want to get too deep into all the different avenues you can choose to promote. But generally speaking, with any event sponsor, whether they’re sponsoring in kind or monetarily or anything like that, the recommendation is always to ask them to share and ask them to share in very specific ways.
One thing that I like to do personally is just put together a one-sheet with all of the information they need to share via an email blast, via social media and on their website, including images, including links, including everything, so that you can just say to them, “Here’s how we would like you to help promote whatever it is that we’re doing,” whether it’s the partnership, the event, anything like that. Just make it really easy and people will be more inclined to help support what is it you’re trying to do.
Shannon: Yeah. If I have to write my own email blast and go scrounge up links and images myself, yeah, the more you can make it really simple like you said. Just either it’s going to be – it’s not that people don’t want to. It’s that people are typically limited on time and resources.
Brigette: Exactly, exactly.
Shannon: And if you have an email template that you can just – hey, all you got to do is copy and paste this into MailChimp and send it off, they’re done.
Brigette: That’s exactly it and to your point, the biggest thing about a partnership like this, it’s not that it costs a lot. It just takes some time. It takes some time, some planning, some effort. But again, if you’re bootstrapping, this is something you can do. This is something that literally anybody can do and just pick out the components that make sense for you.
Shannon: So now that we’ve looked at all the different types of partnership marketing that you can then involve yourself in, what’s the best way to find opportunities for partnerships or what’s – and we may cover this two ways. What’s the best way to find opportunities for partnerships and what’s the best way to find those partnerships and partners as well?
Brigette: My first – and I brought this up a bit earlier. Leverage your personal and professional networks. You would be really surprised. You may think, “I don’t know anybody. Nobody works in the same industry as me.” That is not something that should stop you because there’s always a way.
Just take a look – you know, my best tips are just take a look at who you know and start thinking critically about, “OK. Who owns or works for a company that has a complementary service or product?” Who has the customer that you want or the customer that you already have that you want more of?
Go into it thinking in terms of what you can offer a potential partner and then have something in mind. But don’t be afraid to go off-script because they may have some way of partnering together that you didn’t even think of. So allow for some openness in the conversation and the pitch. So that if they have ideas, they can bring them to the table because I find that generally speaking, what you start off with is rarely what you end up with and collaboration creates better ideas than people who are just sort of on one side or the other saying, “Let’s just check these boxes.” Usually the conversation creates the best types of partnerships.
Shannon: I’ve seen people just post something on LinkedIn for example. I respond to things on LinkedIn where somebody was asking for an Amazon specialist to come and speak at their event.
Shannon: I’m like, “I’m not in your area but I’m willing to travel,” and again, starting that conversation. So it could really be as simple as hey, we’re thinking of doing this.
Shannon: Then if you know of anybody who does that and just putting that post out there, it’s likely that somebody in your network is going to probably know somebody who has that. I mean that’s two degrees of separation, if not one, if somebody goes, “Oh, yeah. I’ve got a company on the side and you may not have known about it, but I also work with these companies or that.”
Brigette: Exactly. You have to ask. You have to put it out there into the universe because otherwise, you just simply – you will not know who and what you know.
Shannon: Yeah. So in terms of finding it, it’s really starting with your network. Are there other ways that you can go online to search for some of these partners and stuff? Are there other ways that you would recommend sort of looking? What are some general tips if you’re going to search beyond your network?
Brigette: Yeah. I mean one great way to go on just as your average person is to just go on to social media and see what do people like. What do they – if they like this, do they also like that? You know, and just start doing some research in terms of – it sounds silly to say this but this is really true. I mean if a brand – like a big brand, you know, a big brand page. You could go on there and see who they follow and there’s a reason for that.
Probably either that other brand is competition or potentially they know that they have an audience in common and just make an educated guess. OK. Why would these two brands be connected? You can even Google partnership promotions or partnership campaigns. Lots of examples will come up and you can see – that’s one way to know for example if a partner is amenable to partnerships.
You know, generally speaking, you’re going to see the bigger brands with that. But you can see if they have a history of doing things like that, if they’re open to it because it’s a lot harder to work with a brand who has never done anything on a large scale than it is to work with somebody who has already kind of gotten the – gone through the process a couple of times. But also at the same time, if it’s your first time working with a brand and you haven’t done partnerships or they haven’t, start small. Just find a very simple way to integrate. Test it out. See what works. See what doesn’t and just build from that point.
There’s nothing that says it has to be one humongous campaign right off the bat. There’s no harm in testing something, dipping the toe in the water and then growing bolder once you have a little more information and you get the feedback you want.
Shannon: Yeah. So it seems like in addition to having to share sort of compatible products like I sell bicycles and you sell bicycle lights for example, like that’s a very direct comparison. We understand how that fits together. But when I did the webinar with Tony Kasandrinos, talking about Kasandrinos Olive Oil and he specializes in affiliate marketing, one of their biggest days of sales was actually women who does eyebrows.
So you think, well, what is like – you will probably never reach out to somebody who does eyebrows to promote your olive oil and yet the audience and some of the values were shared, the people who cared about their bodies and enjoyed cooking, enjoyed using these kinds of products. It happened to have a huge overlap and was one of the biggest days of sales.
So think beyond just direct apples to apples and look at also shared values and potential shared audiences. So like you said, sometimes if a company only promotes one type of thing, it’s actually the more avant-garde one that catches people by surprise and then they notice it. It’s like, oh, that’s interesting.
So if it’s a make-up company, there could be another aspect of it that you’re reaching out to beyond the obvious. So thinking maybe of that second step that would be within your initial circle of influence or audience.
Brigette: Be creative. Be open.
Brigette: And there’s something – I always call it the gut check. But basically, if you think of something, two potential partners, and you feel like there’s something there, but you can’t articulate it, you’re probably right. You just have to flesh it out and that takes conversation and time and brainstorming. But just check on an intuitive level. Does it make sense? Does it make sense for the audience? Does it make sense for the brands? Do they share values?
Shannon: Yeah. OK. So let’s talk about the next aspect or next step is now that you’ve got some ideas for potential partnerships, you know who some of those companies are, how do you approach potential event hosts and/or influencers or partners for whatever endeavor that it is you’re looking to put on? What’s the best way to approach people?
Brigette: And again, just like when you’re selecting a partner. You want to select a person or people who echo your values, who feel authentic to the project. So you’re probably not going to have a middle-aged man selling baby products, right? It’s one of those things where it just has to make sense. It has to feel like the audience is hearing from somebody who they trust.
So we talked about don’t overvalue the following. Focus on the engagement. That’s very relevant, especially if you’re small and you don’t have a budget for an influencer. Just bear in mind who’s the right person and then there’s also – you can go out and you can look for people directly on social media platforms, on YouTube, on Instagram, whatever it is. People who have smaller followings may be accessible in that way. They have some contact information for you that you can just access directly from their site.
If you’re looking for something a little bigger, there are a few resources. I mean there’s certainly more than a few. Ones that I’m more familiar with are sites called FameBit and Social Bluebook. Those are places where you can go in and they act as sort of a portal between creators and advertisers and you can go on and basically propose whatever it is that you’re hoping to get from an influencer and negotiate over a price of doing that. That could be again – that could be trade. That could be a cash exchange kind of thing.
But it’s an opportunity to research and connect with people that are at a certain level but probably not particularly huge. I’m sure there are some big ones on that platform. But those are good resources to just poke around and understand what influencer pricing looks like at this point too.
Shannon: Yeah. I’ve worked with a couple of Kickstarter campaigns. That partnership aspect was huge. So again, it’s very similar to Amazon. You can create your page, your project, whatever it looks like and get people really excited. You’ve got to leverage an outside audience and there are companies that specifically say, “Hey, if you work with us, we will share your project with our audience of however many millions of users,” and you’re looking for target and engagement.
But beyond that, we would reach out to other campaigns that look like there might be some crossover in terms of audience and we would cross-promote each other. So when we send out an update about our project, here’s how much money we’ve raised, here’s how closer we are to our goal. Also check out this other Kickstarter campaign and you just kind of – all the companies that are in the running for that month and you will really quickly put together a simple thing and you basically have your assets, which we’re going to get to in a second.
But you basically have everything ready. You send them yours. They send you theirs and then you guys cross-promote and immediately you’re able to increase the size of your reach.
I think we’ve talked about this before. But one of the most important things when you do that initial outreach is how you sort of set yourself up. I think in my opinion and – some things I’ve learned from you is one, you want to establish credibility really quickly. But two, you want to start off showing and sharing what you can do for them, not just what they can do for you because if you reach out saying, “Hey, I need a handout. Hey, I just want some of this,” the reason to respond is – you just decrease immediately.
So in terms of that initial outreach, what are some examples and suggestions of what that looks like to do that well?
Brigette: Yeah. So as you mentioned, it’s really important to know – you know, know what you need but also know what you can offer. So the steps that I usually ask people to take before launching into a partnership, first and foremost, make sure that you have your own brand assets already. That sounds simple but a lot of people have information that’s sort of all over the place, possibly because of rising and shrinking staff. It could be that you have an outside designer and you just forgot to get the assets from them. There’s a lot of different reasons but make sure that you have your logo, your product photos, your product names, descriptions, your style guide and samples of products.
Make sure that you have all of those ready to use because you don’t want to be waiting on deciding something once a partnership has been given the green light. So make sure you have all of that ready. Of course make sure that your Amazon listings are optimized because again, you want everything to be ready to go. You want to show your partner that you are organized, that you have it together and that you’re ready to move in a productive way. So that when they start to research you, they see that you’ve got everything in place.
Make sure that your online presence is current. It’s clean. It is across all different outlets. It should be similar visually. The information across all of the different pages, whether it’s social, whether it’s your website, email, it should – the messaging should be consistent. The look should be consistent. Just make sure you give that a good tune-up before you start doing your outreach because again, these partners are going to check you out. Hopefully they have an answer.
Brigette: So once you’ve done all of that, then it’s time to figure out, “What am I going to ask for?” and make it really specific. It may not be where you end up, but it shows that you have something in mind. You have a plan and you’ve got some motivation behind it. So figure out what your specific ask is.
Then make sure that you know what you have to offer. So how can you help this partnership along? What can you do for this other company that’s going to be attractive to them? It may be very straightforward. It may be that you have a great Instagram following, but that’s all you have.
Well, how do you make that work for them? And then just in a few bullet points, be able to communicate that to them. Hey, this is what we can do for you, if you do this thing that I’m asking for and that speaks to your point, Shannon. Then just again that gut check. Does this make sense? Is what I’m asking for commensurate with what I’m giving? Does this make sense for everybody involved? Does this make sense in terms of actually growing our awareness or our brand or our sales or anything like that? So just doing that final gut check before you hit “send” and making sure that what you’re asking for makes sense top to bottom.
Shannon: Yeah, I’ve read so much in terms of like – whether it’s reaching out to do guest posts on a blog or whether it’s reaching out for – you know, to do podcasts or influencers. Whatever those things look like, the first thing is follow them on all of your channels. Like if you’re going to reach out to somebody, follow them. One of the things that I do for my own marketing – and this came from a recommendation that you made Brigette was Help a Reporter Out.
So people through Help a Reporter Out said, “Hey, I have this issue,” and every single time that I respond to somebody’s inquiry, they’re looking for a quote. They’re looking for a case study, that kind of thing. What I do is I immediately look that person up in LinkedIn and reach out to them. What am I doing? I’m creating a connection outside of my immediate ask.
I let them know hey, I just submitted for your inquiry on this. I’m looking forward to connecting and I would say probably seven out of ten of those wind up getting published.
Brigette: Which is a –
Shannon: Yeah. It’s simply a matter of making that connection. But there’s so much in that phrasing of saying, “Hey, we’re doing an event. We would like you to donate some bread, because we need some bread,” versus “We’re doing this awesome event. We’re expecting this audience size. It’s going to be covered by the local news station and we would love to partner with you to promote your phenomenal bread company and all we would require from you is a logo for sponsorship and 200 loaves of bread.”
It’s such a different email when a person gets it. It’s like wow, I’m going to get to be a part of this and I mean it’s the same as any outreach. It’s making them want to be a part of it more than you want them to be a part of it.
That all comes in – literally the phrasing and obviously in having your stuff together. But I think that if you’re not good – if you’re like me, if you’re not good at marketing, hire somebody else to do it because that email makes the difference 90 percent of the time of whether or not you’re going to get that connection. But definitely reaching out and connecting on social media ahead of time. Anything that you can do to support them even before you do your outreach.
Shannon: It shows a lot of goodwill and shows I’m in this for you as much as I’m in it for what we can get out of it together.
Brigette: Yeah, and just being conscious of their time. So again, it should be a quick read-it-under-a-minute kind of email. You know, just the facts. Here’s what I’m thinking. Here’s what we can offer you. Here’s what we would like from you in return. Let me know if you’re interested. Very simple.
Shannon: Now, it’s probably going to depend based on the product or service, whatever that typically looks like. Obviously it’s Amazon. It’s going to be product-based. Under what circumstances would you offer to send them a free sample? I’m guessing part of it might have to do with how big the product is, how expensive it is.
Shannon: If it’s a $3,000 TV that you’re launching on Amazon, you probably don’t want to say, “Hey, we would love for you to promote this. We’re going to send you a free one.” But what are some examples of things where you would actually want to reach out in that email and say, “We would love to send you a sample”?
Shannon: You can see how excited we are about the product by using it and trying it yourselves.
Brigette: I can give you an example of something I’m working on right now. So I was approached by a company called NAPGEAR and they make sleep products of various types. But their first product is a really beautiful sleep mask and Jen knows this brand as well because we both worked with them.
Lovely people and the first thing that we decided to do together is we saw that – we were trying to figure out where could we market this product to sort of get these guys up and running and get the product into the hands of people who could in a way be influencers and cause the sales to increase. What we came up with was to do a campaign with luxury hotels. So what we opted to do was either I personally walk the masks into the hotels and meet with them and show them the quality and talk about the different aspects of the masks and why the hotel should use them or I can send the product to them.
But in that particular case, when you’re dealing with a luxury hotel and a luxury item – these masks happen to be really well-made. They’re all silk. So they’re quite nice and they’re not inexpensive. So that’s a case where having product to share makes a huge difference because the audience, these hotels, they’re looking for really quality items.
So you need to show them before you ask them anything that this is a good product and that their customers would really like it. So that’s – whenever there’s an opportunity to share a product, I highly recommend that if it’s a large ticket item, you’re probably not going to be able to do that. But you could show something through videos. You could show things from experience. You can host an event where people come and experience the product and masks, right? So there’s always a way to share the product in some capacity. You just might have to get a little creative with it.
Shannon: Yeah, and – yeah, I had the opportunity and privilege to work with NAPGEAR as well. On the Amazon listing side, I think that was one of our initial connections. But for me, again, if you’re doing any kind of offsite or even internal Amazon campaigns, promotions, external influencers, whatever, make sure your listing is optimized because the difference is huge.
If your listing isn’t optimized, it could be anything from zero sales to a really low conversion rate. You know, two or three percent. If it’s optimized, a well-optimized listing driving additional traffic, we’ve seen anywhere from 10, 15, all the way up to 20 percent conversion rate.
So if you’re talking about sending 100 people and 20 of them are going to buy, that’s huge. The conversion rate is off the charts in terms of what you get from normal eCommerce.
So make sure that you have your optimized Amazon listings in place and we will talk about some ways that you can specifically drive traffic to Amazon and be able to track that in a minute. But initially make sure you have everything set up first and then go out and find the influencers or partnership and I think like you said even, you know, taking the NAPGEAR mask into a hotel.
It’s not, “Hey, we have this product. We want you to buy it.” It sounds like I need something from you instead of “We’ve got this amazing luxury product that’s going to be perfect for your hotel guests. We think they’re going to love it. Would you like to test it out and try it?”
They go, “Oh my gosh.” It’s 100 percent difference. It’s night and day in terms of the reaction that you get.
Let’s talk briefly about that on the Amazon side. If you have brand registry, which if you have your registered trademark, you should get Brand Registry 2.0 for your brand. If you do not have a registered trademark, get one. Start the process with your patent and trademark office.
You can either hire an attorney or there are services like Legal Zoom that can start that process for you as well. But it’s so critical because the opportunities grow exponentially. So with Amazon Storefronts is one and Amazon Storefronts allows you to put in a little tag that you can use to track all the incoming traffic to your storefront and look at the impressions, look at the click-through rates and look at the gross revenue from that traffic source.
So that’s really critical. You can only do that with Amazon Storefronts. There’s nothing else that you can do to track internal traffic coming from outside of Amazon. The second one is social media. They have a social media landing page with a coupon code. We did this recently with Table-Mate. We reached out to an influencer. They have a YouTube channel with a huge following and they actually revised a previous review video and they sent all their traffic to this landing page with their specific coupon code that people could use to purchase it. It showed all the products and again, those are things that are trackable.
So you can actually track the effectiveness of it. That obviously primarily works with things that are online. So where they’re actually clicking a link. With event marketing, it’s going to look different. You can do coupon codes. We’ve done that as well with an event where you can use a coupon code and that helps you track it. But also just knowing what your baseline sales are.
So we did a physical event where we had tons of exposure. There is giveaway. There is product use opportunities and even though we didn’t have a lot of people using coupon codes, what we could look at was the spike in traffic and saw just from event, that we’re able to do a significant increase in sales. We could see the spike. We could see where it dropped off and basically allocate and attribute that to the event marketing success.
So there’s a lot of ways to do that. But that kind of leads into our next section which is, “How do you gauge expectations or success for a partnership? What does that look like?”
Brigette: So my biggest piece of advice related to this is to find the metrics in advance together. So whoever you’re partnering with, sit down and decide, “What could constitute success for each of you?” because that’s really going to dictate what your marketing campaign looks like.
So if your goal is to increase your social media following, then your plan should be centered around that. The more specific you can be, the better because what this allows you to do is test out your campaign. You know, add as many components as you can. Execute to the best of your ability and then at the conclusion, you should always be going back and saying, “OK. What did we do right and what can we do better next time?”
So you will have those metrics to go back to and say, you know, I was hoping that I would increase my Instagram following. So again, being specific. My Instagram falling by 10 percent with this campaign. So add real numbers. Add real goals and it’s OK if you don’t make them because you can look at what worked and what didn’t, how close you came. You know, maybe it’s just an order of magnitude. Maybe you didn’t get that 10 percent because you just didn’t share this partnership promotion widely enough. Maybe that’s all it is.
But you won’t know until you go through it. But setting some goals out is really important because it also makes for a more satisfying partnership when you guys are able to get together at the end of the campaign, share results and say, you know, “Yeah, we did all these things right,” and next time when we work together – because assuming it went well. You probably will have a next time. These are the improvements we can make based on the feedback and results that we got this time around.
So generally, you’re looking for increased awareness. You’re looking for increased engagement and/or you’re looking for increased sales. So just figuring out exactly what that means for your specific brand and your partner’s specific brand and being very transparent and having that discussion in advance at the outset of the partnership when you’re planning the whole thing, that generally will ensure that you’re satisfied with the results.
Shannon: Yeah. I wanted to mention one other thing in terms of influencers that we didn’t really talk about, which is product reviews. So this obviously requires a product sample. But it’s where you have an audience and a lot of these people, they might have affiliate links to Amazon. We’ve talked about in the affiliate webinar. But there are all these different aspects of how an influencer is going to increase content for their audience and they’re looking for products. They’re typically looking for content. They actually need that to survive and thrive as a blogger, as a podcaster. You know, Facebook group or Facebook page, whatever that looks like.
So doing a review where basically you send your product in, again with all your assets, and they can do their own review. That also gives you content that you can share and retweet or re-share on your Facebook pages as well.
In some cases, for a lot of these influencers, they don’t want to go shoot their own video and you look at some of these ones like Cheddar and a handful of other ones that just all they do all day long is videos. But you can tell they’re not out there with cameras probably shooting all these themselves.
So sending them raw footage is actually something that we found helpful for some of those types of influencer partnerships to say, “Hey, we’ve got tons of raw footage. We’re going to send it to you and then you guys cut it and dice it however you want. You guys put the logos on it. Make it clean, add your music, add the captions,” et cetera. So those were two aspects that I wanted to mention as well because again, especially with an innovative product, something that’s new, something that’s exciting, people are going to want to see it. They want to know if you’re solving a problem. People want to know about it. I love scrolling through the Cheddar feed and just seeing like all the crazy things – there’s like liquid drywall the other day. I thought how awesome is that. You just like spray –
Brigette: That sounds interesting.
Shannon: And wipe it off and I’m like – here I was on Friday, like repairing holes in the wall. It takes forever. So if you’re solving a problem, people are going to want to know that. They want the product and video is a great way to show it to them. So having those raw, unfinished video assets in place to reach out to influencers or ask for product reviews. It’s another great way to create that partnership opportunity.
Brigette: And Shannon, just to add something to what you were saying. One, what you might hear that footage referred to is B-roll and it just means the same thing that Shannon was saying. Just sort of – just imagery video that they can show when they’re talking about something and a lot of times, you will see that on news stations and morning shows and things like that. That’s B-roll.
Also in addition to having products for the influencers to try, another thing that I like to do is give products to them to give away. So maybe – again, depending on the value of the product, you can give one to the influencer to try personally and then another to give away to their audience. That’s something that they really like because that’s a way for them to give back to their engaged community as well.
So that’s just something to think about again if you can spare it. That helps them build their network. They’re more likely to work with you if you’re giving something to them that helps them as well.
Shannon: Again, you start with the give, not the take.
Brigette: Exactly, exactly.
Shannon: Brigette, we’ve talked a lot about breaking down some of the myths of partnership marketing. Like it has to be super expensive. You need a whole marketing department to do this. You’re too small of a brand. We’ve kind of dispelled a lot of those myths. What are any other of your thoughts or final questions in terms of wrapping it up that you would say are some of those most critical things that keep people from doing partnership marketing or that prevent them from doing it effectively?
Brigette: Yeah. I think the biggest one is just trust your intuition. If you’re just getting started with this, one way that I always like to look at things is would – you know, would that – would somebody communicating to me in that way get me to take action? So when I – based on this event invite, would I go to this event? Would this call to action make me do something that they want me to do?
So put yourself in the shoes of the recipient always, whether it’s a partner that you’re pitching or whether it’s your desired audience or anything like that. Think about if you were there, what would it take for you to decide to try a product or listen to something or watch something or whatever it is that you’re trying to get somebody to do.
And trust yourself. We’re not all marketers. But we’re all human beings and marketing really is on a lot levels just psychology. So if you have something in the back of your head saying, “There’s something here, there’s something here,” and that happens to me a lot, you may not know the answer yet. But write it down. Set it aside. Talk about it with friends or family or colleagues later and explore it. So just trust your intuition when it comes to this stuff and do that gut check. Does this make sense? Is what I’m asking for going to make sense? Is what I’m willing to offer going to make sense to a partner? It this partnership going to make sense to my intended audience?
Just make the ask. Don’t be afraid to make the ask. I mean in a way, pitching for partnerships can be a lot like sales where for every 10 pitches you write, you may get 1 response. That’s totally normal and you can’t take it personally. You just have to keep putting yourself out there because what you will find is that eventually – you know, and you need to be crafting – you know, changing and evolving with the way that you pitch. If something is not working, change it and do it again.
But you continue to go after something and if you really feel like there’s something there, you will find the right partner. It may be because they have a personal connection. It may be because they just read the email the exact time. You can’t really speculate. You just have to keep trying and just putting it out into the universe and feel free to start small. There’s no reason you have to start with a huge campaign.
If this is new, do something simple. Create one graphic that’s co-branded and share it and have a partner share. I mean it can be as simple as that. So just basically dip your toe and give it a shot. Learn from it and continue to try and move forward.
Shannon: Well, Brigette, that’s really helpful and again, I’ve wanted to do this webinar for a long time. I think it’s something that a lot of people are lost and clueless and I will include a link to your website as well. We can follow up.
Talk a little bit about the consulting services that you provide for clients who go, “That’s great. I’m totally overwhelmed.” Either A, I don’t have the time or B, like me, you just suck at copywriting in terms of those marketing outreaches. I have Brigette write a lot of my – outreach our emails because again, it’s just about being able to phrase them.
Like I could work for 15 hours and never run an email that good. So there are people who are just in that situation. Talk a little bit about your services that you provide and the typical clients or ideal clients that you work with and how you like to help them from that marketing standpoint.
Brigette: Sure. Well, we offer services in a few different ways. We can be hired hourly for things like what Shannon is describing. Just if it’s help writing a pitch or doing something that’s pretty straightforward but just is going to be a little bit easier for us than it might be for somebody else. We do have a lot of our clients that work with us under retainer and the reason that we do that is because we like to be available to them for really anything that they need in the marketing spectrum.
I think a lot of times people come to us and ask, “Oh, I need help with digital.” But then when we get into it, we find that in fact, they need help in other areas and it’s best to be a little bit flexible. So that’s my preferred way of working with most clients.
But it’s not for everyone and so we also have project-based fees. So if there’s a specific project that we know the scope, we know the time, we know the cost going into it or we think we know as closely as we possibly can, we can take all of those constructs and put together a very specific marketing plan where we just charge based on a fee.
So those are the primary ways, the primary ways that we work and we’re always open to helping companies of any level. So it could be a start-up that has really nothing that needs a total marketing plan and everything or it can be very, very large company who has a whole marketing staff. But they have a project that they just don’t have the bandwidth to execute. Both situations are common to us and just about everything in between too.
Shannon: And you got a special for audience members for Marketplace Seller Courses. A 10 percent off retainer services for new clients for the first six months if they make that six-month minimum contract.
Shannon: So again, if you reach out to Brigette, it’s www.ModernMuseCo.com and you can mention Marketplace Seller Courses once you sign up for your initial consult. Brigette, thank you again so much for being on today. I really appreciate having you.
Brigette: This has been my pleasure. I really appreciate it, Shannon. Always good to work with you.
Shannon: Awesome. Thanks Brigette.