How to generate ad creatives for free with influencer marketing

Get free ad creatives for your brand by collaborating with nano-influencers.

July 26, 2022

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We've all been influenced by celebrity endorsements in the past. We know the celebs' faces really well, and ‘their words’ make us look at the brand as something trustworthy and not a random come-and-go product.

Years ago, wouldn't you drink Smartwater vs something else because you saw an ad with Jennifer Aniston promoting it?

The price for collaborating with celebrities runs into hundreds of thousands & even millions of dollars. It's the same for big influencers nowadays. They have about as much clout as a popular celebrity (or sometimes even more!).

But how can an emerging brand with no budget leverage these same principles to get powerful social proof and create ads with influencers, even if you have no budget?

A creator-produced video review appears more credible than a generic advertisement by the brand itself. Their content feels more organic & has a greater persuasive effect on the buying behavior. More persuasiveness leads to more sales.

Nano influencers that have the same audience as your target market are better than any big celebrity.

Celebrities' image might change over time & they might not remain favorite anymore. If a celebrity is endorsing numerous products at the same time, people might see the celebrity and associate it with another brand rather than yours.

So nano-influencers are your best options where you don’t even have to spend millions to get that social proof… instead, you can get it for free!

Here's what review posts might look like:


Wouldn't it be incredible if you could generate such authentic posts and stories for your brand, pretty much on autopilot? Read on to know how...

6-step system for how an eCommerce brand can generate free ad creatives from nano-influencers

1. Create a list of your influencers

The first step of the process is making a list of nano influencers who align with your business and have real influence over your desired audience. A nano-Influencer is anyone with less than a 20k audience. Anyone with a higher following will usually ask for a fee for posts and ad creatives.

In an ideal scenario, all creators would give you at least one ad creative at the end of this process, but that's not the reality. Look at it like a marketing funnel; there would be a drop-off at each step. So you have to start with a big list and slowly nurture them in the process to get at least a few ad creatives.

How many creators should be on your list? — There is no absolute number that applies to everyone. It will vary from brand to brand.

After you've gone through the whole process mentioned in this post till the end, you will get to know the percentage of creators that move to each next step. These percentages can be used as a benchmark to backtrack the number of influencers you need to start with in the future cycles of the process. If you want to begin, start with a small list of 10 influencers.

As a small business, you might be sticking to using excel sheets and docs to collect your data. That's okay if you want to take it slow. But it's better to use a tool to manage your influencer program. This will help get things done faster and simplify some of the flows for you.

Use SARAL's influencer CRM to manage your ad-creative generation

2. Get their shipping address

Get the creators' shipping addresses so you can send them the product for which you want to create the ad. The best way is to DM them on Instagram, as that's the main platform they hang out on the most. This works if you're going after smaller creators with < 10k followers. It's always best to also email them.

You don't need to speak to your creator about sharing anything about your product in the first message. The only objective here is to get their shipping address.

It's not 100% guaranteed that a creator would respond to you — even if you are giving out something for free — so sometimes you will need to deal with it and scratch a promising creator off of your list. However, by crafting your message nicely, as mentioned below, you will maximize your chances of getting a reply from them.

Hey {{first_name}},
I am the founder of {{brand_name}}, which is a {{one-line description}}.

I've been following you for a bit and really like your content. Loved the recent post about {{recent_post}}.

I want to send you a special package with our product(s) simply to get your thoughts. No commitment is required from your end. My whole team and I think you'd love using our product for {{benefits}}.

What would be your shipping address?

You can always follow up once to increase your chances of getting a response. Another way is to turn on the notifications on their stories/posts and comment on them to let them know you've sent a DM regarding a gift you want to send them. Here are some clever ways to get noticed by creators you admire.

3. Send your product

No one has ever gone 'aww…' looking at a cheap cardboard box, poorly tapped with an address slapped on it even if it contains free stuff (which creators get a lot!).

So before you ship the package, here's a checklist of best practices to create a good first impression & make the creators go to the next stage —

  • Do some research on your target creators. Watch their videos and include something in their box that lets them know you've been paying attention to their content. Do they love stationery? How about including a stack of stickers related to your brand that they might love.
  • Customize your products for them. The easiest way is to include their name on your products.
  • Think about how the package will be opened and place items nicely and purposefully based on how you want them revealed. Your packaging should be photogenic.

  • Include a note referencing your conversation and a thank-you for checking out your product. Mention your social media handles, so they know whom to tag if they post about it. If your product is something new, include a bit about what's the best way to use it.

    Want to wow them with your notes? Make it handwritten. Online handwritten note services like Handwrytten, Postable, Felt App, etc. can help you do this at scale without breaking your wrist.
Here’s how Handwrytten makes writing multiple notes quick and easy.
  • Make sure your branding is on point, and your logo is visible on the package and the product. Use a professional logo maker to achieve best results more quickly
You can't miss that this is from Ahrefs from the colors, fonts and their logo (all part of branding) . Source: Twitter

  • Do an express delivery if possible. Makes it look like you really wanted to send your product to them, and it's fresh in their mind after your conversation with them over DM.
  • Don't miss this one — Include a coupon code that they can share with their audience. They would be incentivized to share about your product since it would add value to their audience.

4. Track & Follow up

Remember to note down the tracking details of all the creators to whom you've sent the package. It will help you send a timely follow-up message to request them for a review. Let them know when you've sent the package so they are on the lookout for it.

If you want one less thing to stress about, you can use tools like SARAL that notify you when the package is delivered.

SARAL tracks your packages and notifies you when they reach creators!

If they are impressed by your product, you can expect to see it in their stories or posts. That will get you some brand awareness with their audience. In the next step, we will talk about what to do with the picture/video they posted.

What if they don't post about your product?

You can send a kind, follow-up message/email reminding them about your product. Tell them about the coupon code for their audience and extend it for a few more days. They are not required to post about your product, so this step will take a little longer (days to weeks).

It is these things that will matter. To do them at scale, use a system like SARAL that will help you keep track of your relationships and send you follow-up reminders so you’re on top of everything.

If they don't post, ask if you can at least get a review from them. Most of them agree to it if they've used & liked your product because they also want to build relationships with brands that connect with them. Their review can then be used on your website, product page, in emails, etc. Your target audience likely knows them and will be persuaded by their recommendation.

5. Get usage rights

Once a creator has posted about your product, re-share the content on your channels. Thank them for their review, and ask your audience to go check it out. It will drive traffic to their channel, which will help you build trust with the influencer.

Reach out to get usage rights (usage rights define who owns the content and where it can be used) for the video/post:

“Hey {first_name},

We're so glad you loved our gift. Thank you for sharing it in your story.

We'd love to be able to share this with our audiences as well! Could we have the right to use this content on organic and paid social sites for 30 days?

Thank you!

If the response to this message is a no, find out if they have any terms & conditions you can fulfill to still allow you to use the content. If they quote a price, let them know that you don't have the budget right now and would be open to discussing it later when you have the budget. The idea is to keep the communication channel open for future campaigns. If you do have some budget, use the money to get creatives and fuel your paid ads campaigns with fresh creatives each week.

If they say yes, thank them again and get started with adding the creative to your paid marketing campaigns.

6. Create the ad

You have a limited time (30 days) to use the creative you got from the creator, so prioritize the creative for your ad.

If you have reviews from multiple creators, stitch them together to create a single, powerful ad creative. You can also use it as a part of a bigger campaign. Make sure you target the audience that might know the creator whose review you would be using. When people see a familiar face promoting a product they might need, your conversions would be better.

You can also use the reviews on your website.

Source: Growcode

Meanwhile, continue showing your love on their social media platforms by liking and commenting on their posts.

The only cost that would be incurred in the whole process would be the cost of goods you send, shipping, & any other customization you might do for packaging. So this won't work if your product is very expensive. Do run some numbers to see how many reviews or sales you would need to generate to make this a net profitable deal for you.

Even if you have an expensive product, you can sell it for COGS (cost of goods sold) to creators whom you are aligned with to simply get their thoughts on it, potentially through a review on their timeline. Be creative!

What's Next?

As you saw from the 6 steps above, influencer marketing is not like a faucet you turn on to get results. It has all the characteristics that can make it feel like something not scalable. You will need to devote time and resources to it - it's not "turn on and forget" like Facebook ads. After all, you are dealing with people.

The way to do it efficiently, without overloading yourself or your marketing team, is to use tools like SARAL. It helps brands create relationship-driven influencer marketing campaigns, and you won't spend profits on expensive ads.

I hope you liked reading this post and took away lots of actionable tips on how to strike the best deals with creators to get your creatives done. If you found this useful, you should consider subscribing to our weekly Influence Marketing Newsletter.

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