Can we talk collaborations for a hot sec?
I think they are one of the best ways for women to grow their businesses. You align yourself with another brand, get exposed to their audience, and work together to create something really cool. I’ve participated in a number of them in the past year—some of which I’ve pitched and others that have been pitched to me. Over that time, I’ve learned a whole lot about what makes a good pitch and what makes a not-so-great one, so I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned with you all.
1. Get a personal intro to the company’s founder (if you can).
It’s helpful if the company has already heard of you when you pitch them your idea. So I always suggest scouring LinkedIn to learn who the influential players within that company are. Do you have any friends-of-friends who can introduce you to someone there? A personal connection makes a massive difference.
2. If you don’t have a way to connect with them through a friend, start participating in their Instagram community.
I don’t suggest doing anything in a creepy, stalkerish way, but rather, make a point to read their posts, see what they’re up to, and comment when you feel drawn to do so. I rarely see the names of all the people who like a photo, but I almost always read the comments on the most current photo, and if I see anything intriguing, I’ll definitely click through their profile. I can’t tell you how many friendships have begun simply by interacting with someone on Instagram.
3. Find their contact information on their website—don’t ask for it through Instagram.
People are so busy. Most won’t respond to your comment or DM. And almost everyone has contact information listed on their website, so head there and look for it. If they only have a Contact Form, don’t fret. It’s likely because that’s how they’d prefer you pitch them. Maybe it sends the information directly to the proper person on their team, or maybe it populates a Google Sheet with your information. Either way, don’t think that submitting a Contact Form means no one will receive your message. They will.
4. Pitch something SPECIFIC.
This is my number one piece of advice. Sending a company a message that says, “I’d love to work with you,” or “Let’s collab!” isn’t impactful. What that says to a company is, “I think what you’re doing is cool and I want to be involved, but I’d like you to plan the project.”
You don’t want them to have to do that work. Because most of the time, they won’t. Instead, pitch something very specific. For example, we received a great pitch a few weeks ago from a childcare company. They said something like: “We’d love to provide childcare services during one of your events.” My response? — “Yes! Thank you! That sounds awesome. Let’s talk.”
So before you reach out, brainstorm what you can offer the company that would benefit them AND provide the return you’re looking for.
5. Create a beautiful pitch deck to send with your email.
I don’t think it’s safe to assume that the person you’re pitching will research you and look through your website. Depending on how busy the company is, they may not have time for that. But they'll probably open an attachment you send. So make it easy for them to access all the information you’d like them to have.
Whenever I pitch a new collaboration, I send them a pitch deck. Ours is about seven pages long and includes our mission statement, other companies we’ve collaborated with, our social reach, photos of our team, and the specific collaboration I’d like to do with them. It’s heavy in visuals and contains very little text, so they can read it quickly. That way, if the company has never heard of us before, in just a few minutes they'll learn all about our brand, aesthetic, exactly what we’d like to do with them, and why our brands would be a good match.
*Note: if you have to submit your inquiry through a Contact Form, you probably won’t be able to attach anything. In this case, you’ll have to communicate more of this information in your email than you would otherwise.
6. It’s okay to follow up, but do so kindly and through the right channels.
Most of the time, if you don’t hear back it means it wasn’t quite the right thing (and that they are swamped in emails and don’t have time to write back.) Even so, it’s okay to send a little email that says something like, “Just following up!” a week or two after you sent your pitch. But I strongly suggest that you refrain from sending this as an Instagram message or comment. It isn’t professional and will decrease the odds that they’ll be interested in the collaboration.
Alrighty, that’s all I’ve got. I’m sure some of you have far more experience with collaborations than I do, so if you have advice I haven’t mentioned, please share with us in the comments. Stay bossy, ladies—and pitch some collabs to kick off the coming year!