Creator Engagement

9 Ways to Collaborate with Creators by Creating a 'Yes-Worthy' Offer for Them

Find the right ways to collaborate with influencers that are mutually beneficial, cost-effective, and forward-looking.
Posted on
December 23, 2022
7 minute read
Priya Nain
Marketing at SARAL

In the early days of social media, creators treated creating content, posting about brands, and growing their audience as a hobby. They were happy to receive gifts and free products in exchange for a shoutout. Then, the industry evolved, and monetary compensation became the new norm. It led marketers at big funded companies to believe that they could simply show their money to buy a spot in an influencers feed. This also led to influencer marketing inflation, as many influencers started milking this transactional nature for profits.

What comes next is the third phase of influencer marketing that’s more relationship based. So if you’re a new and emerging brand that’s wise enough not to throw money at influencers, this post is for you.

If you:

  • Want to compete with brands that have deep pockets and the opportunity to work with the same creator that you also want to work with.
  • Want to get into influencer marketing but looking to create a great 'creator offer' to get creators to say 'yes' to you despite less budget.
  • Want to work with creators who believe in long-term partnerships, with a win-win scenario for both sides, but you are struggling to build those relationships.

… then this post is for you. We'll explore how you can build a 'Creator Offer' that goes beyond just throwing money at the problem.

Creators appreciate when treated as long-term collaborators rather than just as a means to an end. Non-monetary benefits such as exclusive access to the community, social recognition, gifts, and so on, will make your brand memorable and have a higher emotional value for them.

This will lead to long-term partnerships bringing in many benefits, like more committed influencers, genuine endorsements, and consistent creator engagement.

All brands that are successful at influencer marketing do this. For example, Sephora refers to their selected creators as “Squad members”. These creators get free swag bags, products for a giveaway, and a place on Sephora's social media channels to get social recognition.

The core of all this is creating a “no-brainer” creator offer that creators can not say no to.

What is a Creator Offer

A Creator Offer is everything of value, monetary and non-monetary that a brand offers its creator-partner. An offer is made up of 3 elements: Incentive structure, Benefits for the creator, and Perks for the creator's audience.

1.  Incentive Structure

Five tried-and-tested ways to incentivize creators are:

  • Gifting: You send your top products to creators in exchange for a shoutout
  • One-off Payment: you pay the creators a lump sum amount, a flat fee with a free product at the start of your collaboration
  • Performance-based payout: you pay influencers based on the conversions they bring
  • Base + Bonus: You pay a fixed amount upfront and then a percentage of the sales that came through an influencer.
  • Equity: You give ambassadors or long-term collaborators stock options or equity.

Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, gifting is affordable since the only cost you would incur would be the cost of goods, shipping charges, and any packaging customizations. But the disadvantage is that because you're not paying anything to creators, they are not obligated to post about your brand. You have no control over how your brand might be presented, as there is no buy-in from the creator.

To weigh in on the advantages and disadvantages of each type of compensation & make a decision that suits your brand, check out this detailed post on creator incentive models.

2.  Perks for the creator's audience

Creators want to look like heroes in the eyes of their audience. You can facilitate that by sending creators a discount code they can share with their audience. Showing that they bring good deals for their audience will make them likable, and you will benefit from a sales boost. It would be a win-win for everyone.

For example, Pura Vida usually creates a 20% unique discount code for each creator, which they can broadcast to their audience to take advantage of.

Discounts are not the only perks you can create for their audience. You can also do giveaways.

Influencers are also trying to grow their audience and boost engagement. Giveaways are a great way to benefit both the brand and the creator

Giveaway hosted by a creator for an ecommerce brand. Make one of the rules to enter the giveaway to follow the creator and brand account. This would mean more followers for both the creator and your brand!

You can be creative here and do other deals, such as, bundle discounts, or freebies for their audience. Don’t restrict yourself to just discounts!

3.  Benefits for the creator

In the next section, let's look at some of the benefits you can include in your creator offer to win over creators faced with higher-paying offers that come with fewer additional advantages.

Take Your Pick: 9 Options to Create a Lucrative Creator Offer

Swag bags

Swag bags or goodie bags are an assortment of gifts given to an influencer. These may or may not include the products that your company makes. The idea is to show your gratitude to the creator for partnering with you.

You can leverage the design of the products given in the goodie bag and the bag itself to showcase your brand with a logo, a catchphrase, or colors of the brand.

Notion pitches' Unique Swag' as one of the benefits of becoming an ambassador.

Epic Games, the gaming company, sent a jacket with its logo and Free Fortnite to creators in its niche. There was no obligation on creators to post about it, but they do end up doing that when the gift 'wows' them 🤩

Source

Swag bags are best to hype up the launch of a new product or new collection.

Special in-store or website discounts

You can give your ambassadors discounts when they shop in your store or on your website. These discount codes can have unlimited validity or for as long as they collaborate with you.

It's also an incentive for them to bring their friends and family to your store for shopping so they can get discounted products.

Access to Exclusive Community

Invite your creators to join an exclusive community with the band members and the creators. If creators are regular users of your product, they would see this as a huge perk since everyone would benefit from sharing knowledge, tips, ideas, etc., around the product with each other.

Moreover, people like to connect with like-minded people. Being part of a curated community will help them find such people.

lululemon highlights the network of like-minded people as a perk for it's ambassador

You can manage these communities using platforms like Slack or Facebook Groups. Tribe or Mighty Pro are a great choice if you want to white label your community.

Pre-launch product samples

Access to products which are not yet available to the general public is something many creators like.

Everyone waiting for the product to launch will have their eyes on the creator's content. Creators know that when they get access to something before it's even launched, they have an opportunity to create exclusive content for their audience. They will be considered an authority in that space for being the first to use the product.

So make sure you include this as a benefit of partnering with your brand. If your product is based on a new technology or totally innovative idea, creators might be interested in working out a non-monetary deal just for exclusive access. Even if you don’t this is worth including in your creator perks as it helps build anticipation for future product launches.

Growth Opportunities

Here are some ideas you can use to contribute to the creator's personal and professional growth:

  • Pay for their tickets to a conference or event
  • Invite them to your events
  • Provide them networking opportunities with industry experts or celebrities they would not have met otherwise.

Sephora hosts regular sessions with experts for its ambassadors. Depending on their choices, ambassadors can take different pathways — beauty or skincare — that will allow them to strengthen their expertise.

They also host sessions with celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Selena Gomez to give people an insight into show business, which also drives a lot of makeup trends. These opportunities attract creators to partner with brands without upfront monetary considerations.

As a small brand, you might not be able to do all of this. But try including some exclusive access element into your creator perks.

Tier-based reward system

A tiered commission system is a way to build incentives right into an offer. Unlike the flat commission method, tiered commissions encourage creators to hit conversion milestones. As their outcomes get better, they earn a higher commission.

A tiering system will help you set clear goals for your influencer loyalty program and easily monitor results. Here's an example of a tiering offer:

With an excel sheet or pen & paper, it would be difficult to keep track of milestones & do the maths every time you have to disburse the commission. Any delays or incorrect payments are sure to spoil your relationship with the creators. We suggest using tools like Refersion to automate the process of creating tiers and distributing timely payments.

Social recognition

Brands with a huge following — hundreds of thousands or millions of followers have a huge advantage when pitching to creators. They can offer to share the creator's content on their social media channels, with the creator's account tagged in the post.

This incentivizes your ambassadors to create content for your brand in the hope of getting a cool shoutout. Also, it leads to greater ambassador retention.

It's an enticing offer for the creator because of two reasons:

  • People engaging with the brand's post are likely to check out the person in the post, i.e., the creator, and follow them.
  • It lends a lot of credibility to the creator by means of association with a trustworthy brand.

Sephora regularly posts the content created by its brand ambassadors and credits them for it on their social media accounts.

How can you take advantage of it if you don't have an enviable number of followers? Here are a few ideas:

  • Partner with nano-influencers who have lesser followers than your brand’s account.
  • Go for creators who might want to reach the exact same audience as your brand. For example, if you sell beauty products, makeup artists would be a great fit for you and vice-versa. They’d love the added exposure even if your brand account is smaller than theirs.
  • Work out a deal where you share their content twice the number of times they promote you if your audience size is half of them. You can also re-use it on your paid channels and increase visibility for your creator-partners.

Donate to a charity of their choice

Donating to charities not only makes people feel good but also helps them showcase their values and the causes they care about. If you include this as a benefit for the creator for partnering with your brand, you can help them look beyond money and make a greater impact.

This is especially effective if the creator is already swimming in brand collaborations and isn't desperate to make money from your collaboration or when you have very little budget. Because instead of taking a small fee and diluting their prices, they would be more than happy to contribute to a cause they care about.

Before pitching this to the creator, research what they may care about and give them a few options.

For example, a creator with million plus followers might not care about 10% commissions, but they would listen to you if you pitch it as an offer to donate 10% of the sales they generate to a charity of their choice.

Ongoing challenges

You can gamify influencer marketing a bit by creating "challenges" for your group of ambassadors where they have to take certain actions to win rewards. This will keep them motivated and also create a healthy competition when ambassadors see others winning challenges or getting ahead.

This also helps in keeping your slack or FB community engaged.

Examples of a challenge would be:

  • Create {{number}} posts till a particular date highlighting {{these benefits}} of the product and get a chance to win {{grand gift hamper details}}.
  • Drive {{number}} of signups this month to earn an extra {{percentage}}% in commissions
  • Earn an additional ${{amount}} on driving {{number}} in sales this month

Challenges are best run around certain events such as Black Friday sale, Christmas Sale, Summer Sale, etc., so that you have a continuous stream of posts going on social media instead of just one or two.

The best thing is that you can find an excuse to do a challenge pretty much every single month. This helps ambassadors make more money and also helps you get more brand awareness and sales!

Final Thoughts

Providing the right mix of benefits that are both inexpensive and highly sought after among creators can give a competitive edge to brands that can't afford high monetary compensation and pricey perks. For most creators, it’s not all about the money - so figure out alternative ways to “pay” them 😉

It's evident that the influencer marketing industry is constantly evolving, with new challenges, tools, and ideas coming in.

I don't have to give you a long lecture on the importance of staying on top of new trends & best practices to execute high-ROI influencer marketing campaigns.

To help you with that, we've created the "No BS" Influencer Marketing Letter — the newsletter that teaches you about profitably growing your brand by collaborating with creators. Sign up now for more such unique content!