Agent Who? A Guide to Cutting Out the Middleman and Working with Influencers Directly

6 creative ways to connect with creators directly.

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

March 23, 2023

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Influencer marketing can get daunting for small DTC brands, especially when dealing with those pesky influencers' agents. These gatekeepers can charge a pretty penny, making it difficult for smaller brands to afford the creator collaboration of their dreams.

And it's not just the cost that's the problem.

Lack of transparency, difficulty connecting with the creator, slow response times, and unfavorable contract terms are some of the additional pains that a DTC brand might feel when dealing with these agents.

Your dreams of working with the right creators are being held hostage by these middlemen, and your budget simply can't accommodate their steep fees. You're left feeling like David against a Goliath-sized agent, with no slingshot in sight.

The best way to circumvent the agent roadblock is to cut out the middleman and connect directly with the creator.

Sounds simple. But we both know that it's not.

Trying to get a creator's attention is like flagging down a cab in the middle of a rainstorm - frustrating and often lengthy.

So how can you improve your chances of getting a creator's attention without going via their agent? Let me give you 6 ideas for that.

Get a referral from a current influencer partner

Identify which creators you've already partnered with and have built a good relationship with. These creators may be more likely to vouch for you and your brand to other creators in their network.

Next, craft a message that your current influencer partner can easily send to the desired influencer on your behalf. Keep the message short, sweet, and to the point.

Here's an example message you could provide to your current influencer partner:

"Hi [creator name],

I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to introduce you to [Your brand name], a DTC brand that I've had the pleasure of working with. They're looking to collaborate with influencers who share their values and aesthetic, and I immediately thought of you.

What I love about [Your brand name] is their commitment to [specific value or cause], and I think your content would be a perfect fit for a collaboration. Are you open to connecting with them and exploring a potential partnership?

Let me know if you're interested, and I'll be happy to make an introduction.

[Your current creator partner]"

By providing a message like this to your current creator partner, you make it easy for them to introduce you to other creators and increase your chances of getting noticed.

Ask your friends at other brands for a connect

When it comes to influencer marketing, it's often not just what you know but who you know. And that's where your DTC network comes into play.

If you're looking to connect with a particular creator, consider tapping into your network and asking friends at other brands for a referral.

Now, before you start dialing up your competitor's CEO, it's important to note that you should be targeting complementary brands rather than direct competitors.

For example, if you run a luxury tea company, consider reaching out to a yoga bar company and asking for a referral. These types of brands have a similar target audience to yours and are more likely to be open to collaboration opportunities.

Reach out on their personal email ID

What could be more direct than sending an email to the creator's personal email address?

Now, you might be thinking, "But wait a minute, isn't that time consuming to find the right email address? And follow-up via email is nerve-wracking." Not with SARAL!

With the SARAL Chrome extension, you can find the creator's info, add them to your list of creators for outreach, and send them an email — all from a single platform—no more juggling between apps or tabs of clunky spreadsheets.

Of course, there's no guarantee that the creator will respond to your email, but at least you know you're cutting out the middleman and putting your message directly in their inbox.

In fact, SARAL makes it easy to set up an automated follow-up sequence that will improve the chances of getting a positive response.

In your message, let the creator know what you admire about their work, what you're looking for in a collaboration, and why you think your brand would be a good fit. And don't forget to include a clear call-to-action, such as asking for a meeting or a traditional telephone call to discuss collaboration opportunities further.

Engage with the creator's content

Influencers receive a lot of comments on their posts, but how often do they receive thoughtful ones?

By crafting a meaningful comment that shows you're engaged with their content and message, you could get noticed by the creator and increase your chances of securing a collaboration.

Here are some tips to help you leave thoughtful comments that get attention:

  1. Don't leave generic comments like "Great post!" or "Love your content." Take the time to read the post and craft a comment that shows you've engaged with the content.
  1. Reference something specific from the post in your comment, such as a particular line or image that stood out to you. This shows the creator that you're paying attention to the details.
  1. Don't try to sound like someone you're not. Use your own voice and personality to craft a comment that feels genuine and true to who you are.
  1. Make it a habit. Comments on the creator's posts on a regular basis. This shows that you're genuinely engaged with their content and not just trying to get noticed.

By leaving thoughtful comments on a creator's posts, you're not only increasing your chances of getting noticed, but you're also building a relationship with the creator. When you show genuine interest in their content, it increases the likelihood that the creator will take notice of you and may even check out your profile or website.

If the creator sees you as a valuable connection or potential collaborator, they may be willing to share their direct contact information with you. Which means you can connect with them personally and talk about collaborations without having to go through their agents.

Try creative ways of outreach

To really stand out and catch their attention, you'll need to get a little more creative. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you think outside the box and make an impression:

  • Tags in Stories: Don't just tag them in any old story; make it something that's relevant and interesting to them. For example, if the influencer is a fitness guru, tag them in a story about myths around protein bars. This shows that your brand has something in common and they are likely to respond with a comment. At that time, it's important to engage with them and try to start a conversation about collaboration. And there you have it — a deal with no agents in between.
  • Send a thoughtful gift: Instead of a generic gift, send something that's specific to the influencer's interests. For instance, if they're a dog lover, send a gift for their furry friend. Remember to include your brand's social media accounts and your direct email address in gift packaging incase the creators wants to reach out to say thank you. This can open up a dialogue about future collaborations without any broker.
  • Collaborate on a project: Instead of sending a generic "How much do you charge for posts" DM that creators are used to ignoring, you can increase your chances of getting noticed by proposing a specific project (a joint event, a co-branded product, or a shared blog post). When creators see that you've done your homework, have a clear vision for the collaboration and they won't have to waste time in coming up with ideas, they are more likely to engage directly with you instead of asking you to talk to their agents first. This works especially well as it’s atypical and most agents are not used to dealing with such high-touch collaborations.

Final Thoughts

Influencer marketing has become a must-have strategy for many small DTC brands looking to grow their reach and increase sales. Test out ideas from this blog if you're getting blocked by agents a lot.

And for even more insights and tips on no-BS influencer marketing, be sure to subscribe to the SARAL newsletter.

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