You find an influencer you think you’d like to partner with.
You put them on your list of people to reach out to.
But then you start researching them in more depth…
And you realize that you actually don’t want to connect with them.
Maybe it’s their vibe – something about them offends you, annoys you, or just rubs you the wrong way.
Maybe it’s something about their headline, their offer, or the way they present themselves online.
For whatever reason, you just…don’t like them very much.
And so you cross them off your list.
But now you’ve spent time – possibly a lot of time – thinking about whether you should reach out to them and trying to identify why you don’t want to.
And particularly if the reason is a little vague even to you – if it has something to do with their vibe or the feeling you get while you’re researching them, rather than the specifics of their business or their offer – then you might feel confused about whether you should reach out even if your gut says no.
There’s nothing really wrong with them, so are you making a mistake by taking them off your list just because you don’t think you would like them?
I always tell my clients that wanting to connect with a particular influencer is an essential prerequisite for a partnership.
You shouldn’t try to partner with someone you wouldn’t want to be friends with.
No matter how big their audience is. No matter how perfect the fit is for your service with their audience. No matter how much you think you need them.
Don’t connect with people unless you feel confident you’ll enjoy and appreciate them as people, not just as influencers.
So I believe that gut check is important.
But what if you could bypass the time you spent finding this person, researching them, and then discovering you don’t want to work with them after all?
What if you could be reasonably certain before you even started researching them – from the minute you first found their website – that you are going to like them?
What if there were a shortcut for finding influencers you “vibe” with?
It’s one of my favorite methods for finding influencers.
I call it the “Backlink Your Heroes” method.
Here’s the core concept of this method:
It helps you find people who are similar to the people you most admire.
It’s kind of a “any friend of so-and-so is a friend of mine” concept.
The idea is, if there’s an influencer you love, then influencers who also love them are likely to be people you’d want to connect with.
So this is a networking approach, but one that doesn’t require you to actually know anyone already.
Because you can find all these connections online – even if you don’t actually know any of the influencers involved in real life.
Here’s how it works:
Start by choosing someone with a business very similar to yours who’s highly influential in your niche. Think of the person you most admire in your industry: the person you’d like to be five or ten years from now, after your business has grown exponentially.
The key here is choosing someone you truly, deeply admire. Don’t go for the most well-known person in your industry. Instead, think of the person whose emails you always open, whose blog posts you always read, and whose advice you always follow.
It’s a free tool that will go out and search the internet and find all the other websites that link to your hero’s website.
All you need to do is put the website of your hero in the search box. You can choose to search for links that point only to the homepage, or to any page on the domain, depending on how many results you want to find. Then check the box to prove you’re not a robot, and click “perform check.”
In a minute or two, you’ll have a list of websites that link to your favorite site:
If you skim through the list, you’ll see that the top ones are mostly links that aren’t connecting to an influencer or individual – links like google, eventbrite, and medium. Skip past these. You’re looking for sites that are associated with an individual or an influencer – sites that could be connected with a person you might want to connect with.
In my case, I kept skimming through websites I know are not individuals (like google, reddit, medium, and ello), until I saw this one:
This site caught my attention because I’m not familiar with it. So it’s potentially an influencer who is not already on my list to connect with.
When you find a site that’s not already on your outreach list, click on the link to check it out.
The first thing I notice is the logo at the top of the page, with the tagline “people, planet, profit.” This is interesting, and it indicates that this is a site intended for socially-conscious businesses. This means it might be a good influencer for me.
The next thing I notice is that this is a guest post that was published in March 2012. I can tell it’s a guest post because there’s a biography at the end, with a link to the author’s site:
Since this post is old, I don’t know if this site still accepts guest posts, but at least it did in the past, so it might be a good place to submit a guest post.
A quick google search tells me that if I can come up with a good topic for a guest post, this site would be well worth writing for:
And clicking the link in the author’s bio takes me to a site that might also be interesting to connect with (would Scott be open to hosting a workshop on partner marketing for eco-entrepreneurs? It’s possible!):
I would add both these sites to my list of potential influencers to connect with.
As you go through the backlinks results of your search, make a list of the ones that you think look interesting. You don’t need to figure out what kind of partnership you could propose right now; just make a list of the people you think you might want to connect with.
The backlinks are automatically sorted by domain authority, which is a number ranking that tells you how important Google thinks the site is. Generally, I stop searching once I get to domain authorities below 20 or so – those links belong to people who aren’t very influential yet. However, depending on what type of partnerships you’re looking for, and on what stage your business is, small influencers can be well worth reaching out to. If you’re just getting started, then smaller influencers are more valuable for you, so keep going until you’re happy with the number of people on your list.
You can repeat this search with someone else you admire, or with the links you find during the search.
If you run this search on a few links for people you admire every week, then you can easily grow your list of prospective influencers to reach out to in just a few minutes a day.
It’s one of the easiest ways to find potential partners, for a variety of reasons:
The search only takes a few minutes, so you can incorporate into your weekly or even daily routine.
The list of results is always changing as new sites link to your hero, so it’s a continually growing source of potential partners.
You can easily see how popular the website is by looking at the domain authority and eliminate sites that don’t get enough traffic to be good potential partners.
You know the partners like your hero, so you have something in common – and you have an easy connection point for reaching out.
Getting started with influencer marketing is hard, and it’s easy to waste hours, days, or even weeks spinning your wheels by searching for and researching partners who turn out to be poor prospects for your business partners. But if you schedule regular time to try this simple search, you’ll soon have a solid list of potential partners that you can’t wait to connect with.
Did you enjoy this post? It’s based on an excerpt from my book, 27 Ways to Find Influencers Who Will Love to Partner With You. If you’d like to discover 26 more simple ways to find influencers, you can buy the book for $27 here.
If you’ve thought about trying to partner with influencers and get them to promote your products, you probably know it could have a huge impact on your business. New email subscribers, new clients, and new customers can come pouring in when you effectively partner with influencers.
But if you’re like many entrepreneurs, you don’t know how to get started. It feels daunting. And sometimes the hardest part is knowing what exactly you should ask for.
This is a question about partnership structure.
Before you can know what to ask for, you need to know what the ideal partnership would look like.
Would it be an affiliate partnership, where you pay a commission per sale? Would it be a content partnership, where you offer free content to your partner’s audience? Would it be a co-promotion, where you each promote the other’s product to your own audience?
Figuring out all these details requires that you understand your business structure and costs, your customer journey and sales path, and exactly what your goals are for a partnership.
But rather than diving into all the different options for partnerships, I want to tell you a story about one type of partnership.
This is the story about a client I worked with. I ran their partner marketing campaigns for about a year.
They don’t want me to share the details of their business, so I’m not going to share the name of the company, and I’m going to change some of the financial details.
Here’s what I will tell you.
The company sold a physical product in the lifestyle category. When I started working with them, they had sold it exclusively direct-to-consumer, which means they sold it through their own website. It wasn’t on Amazon, and it wasn’t in stores.
I’ll add (and this is very important, more important than most people give credit for): it’s a truly amazing product. The product was perfectly designed for a specific customer. The timeframe for its use was very short – there’s just one specific moment in a customer’s life when the product was perfect for them. Customers usually only bought one or two of the product, and they weren’t generally repeat customers.
When I started working with them, the company had established a strong foundation for their business. They had made a significant number of sales, and they had just received investor funds.
At that point, they had one simple growth system that worked very effectively. It was a partnership system build on social media. However, they didn’t want their entire marketing strategy to continue to be dependent on a single social platform. So they wanted to expand their options and find more marketing channels that worked for them.
I recommended that they focus on growing their email list, for several reasons.
First, because email isn’t dependent on any platform – it would enable them to connect with their customers directly and personally. Focusing your marketing solely on social channels is always risky, because you don’t own the platform, and the social media gods could shut you down at any time, for any reason, with no recourse.
Second, because even though the company only had one product with a short use life at that point, they were planning to create new products, so it would be valuable for them to be able to sell more to their past customers.
And third, because at that point email was their most underused channel. They had about 1500 subscribers on their email list, and all of them were former customers. There was no way to sign up for their list except by buying a product (you could check a box to subscriber at the time of purchase), and they rarely sent emails to their list.
So the company set the goal to grow their email list and increase their email marketing.
Since they have a great physical product, and they already knew their customer journey wasn’t complicated, I felt that giveaways were a good strategy for growing their list.
How we set up the giveaways:
We made a list of target bloggers and publishers who had an audience of their ideal customer. All of these bloggers regularly ran giveaways on their blogs, and the sites averaged at least 5 comments per non-giveaway post. (The number of comments is one way to estimate the readership size and engagement level for a site. Domain authority and social media following are two other factors you can look at when determining whether an influencer has a big enough audience to make a partnership worthwhile.)
We created an email onboarding sequence for giveaways. This involved a series of emails that people would get as soon as they signed up for the list. The emails would welcome new subscribers to the community, announce the giveaway winner, and then offer a coupon for giveaway entrants to buy the product.
We reached out directly to bloggers who fit the profile and asked them to host a giveaway of the product.
As we began reaching out to bloggers, I always tried to negotiate for them to provide a free giveaway post, but many bloggers charge a fee for a review or a giveaway. At the beginning of this campaign, it was hard to estimate whether a fee was worth it, which is why tracking is important. Since our main goal was email subscribers, we tracked how many people signed up for our email list and compared that to the number of people who entered the giveaway contest. Over time, we were able to average the percent of people who usually signed up for the email compared to the number of giveaway contest entries. Then, as we were looking at new potential partners, we only needed to look at how many entries their giveaways had on average – and we could immediately estimate how many email subscribers we were likely to get from a partnership.
At first, it looked like the partnerships weren’t worth the money, because most giveaway entrants did not purchase during the onboarding sequence. Often, the cost of the sponsored review was more than the immediate revenue.
However, at the same time, we were growing email marketing. As we began regularly emailing announcements and discounts to the list, the revenue per subscriber became an important metric. After 9 months, the revenue per subscriber was $.50/month. Which means that even if we spent $12/subscriber, we would double that in revenue over the course of a year.
But for these giveaway partnerships, the cost per subscriber averaged just $.47.
Which means that as long as new subscribers stayed on the list for longer than a month, the partnerships were well worth it.
And over time, the email list grew into an asset that the company continues to use today to sell new products and stay in relationship with past customers.
At the beginning of this project, the email list was about 1500 people, and all of them were previous buyers and unlikely to buy again.
At the end of the project, after 9 months, the list was over 9000 people. The company was sending email newsletters once a week, and email revenue (i.e., revenue that came directly as a result of emails they sent, separate from other revenue) was $.50/subscriber/month (for a total of $4500/month).
Clearly, this partnership structure was very effective for them.
There are a few reasons why a giveaway structure was the right type of partnership for this business:
Their customer journey was short and simple. In other words, customers didn’t need to learn a lot or know a lot about the product or the company before they were ready to buy. Most of them time, they just needed to hear about the product at the right time. Giveaways to the right audience enabled customers to hear about the product at the exact right moment, and so they resulted in immediate sales.
Their long-term revenue and total email profit was greater than the cost of giveaways. Because every business and industry is so different, it isn’t possible to know for sure whether this will be true for your business until you test it. Just like advertising, giveaway partnerships are something you should be prepared to invest some money in upfront, before you know for sure what will work. However, you can also start by partnering only with influencers who are willing to host a giveaway for free, simply because it’s fun and valuable for their audience. If you do this, look for smaller influencers who frequently host giveaways. This will help you get some data about how well giveaways work for your business, and after a few of those, you can start to estimate what makes sense for you to pay.
If these two factors are similar for your business, then it’s possible that giveaways would be great for you, too! If not, take the quiz to find out what type of partnership would be best for your business.
Once you know what kind of partnership is ideal for your business, it will be much easier for you to reach out to influencers with a clear, specific statement about what you’re asking for.
And over time, as you continue to reach out to influencers and schedule partnerships, your audience, your revenue, and even your own influence will steadily grow.
You know that if you’re not making enough sales of your product with your current audience, then at some point, you need to get your message and offer in front of a BIGGER audience. But how, exactly, should you do that?
Should you find affiliate partners to promote your products, or should you write guest posts for big sites? Should you be a podcast guest, or should you ask bloggers to run giveaways for you?
Take this quiz to find out which type of partnership structure is best for your business!
Is your main product a physical item, a digital product, or a service?
A physical item is an actual physical product, like a shoe or a necklace. A digital product is an informational product that you create one time and then can sell limitless numbers of without any additional work, like an ebook or an online course. A service is a product that involves your personal time and involvement, like coaching or copywriting. Each of these lends itself to a different type of partnership.
What's your net profit on the product you want to promote?
Net profit means how much you make after any expenses for producing your product. So, if your product is a shirt, subtract the cost of materials and sewing from your retail price. If your product is an online course, you don't need to subtract the cost of your website hosting unless you would need to pay more for hosting if you had more students in your course.
Let's talk about your customer journey. How do your customers or clients discover you right now, and what makes them want to buy?
The important thing to know here is what your customers need from you before they're ready to buy. Do they need a lot of information or education before they're ready to purchase? Or do they just need to see a picture of your product at the right moment? This impacts what type of partnership will be most effective for you.
Which of these promotional activities do you most enjoy?
Partnerships will only work if you do them regularly, consistently, and at scale – and you won't do that if you don't enjoy them!
What's your main goal right now for partner promotions?
Which type of influencer partnership is best for your business?