You Ask, I Answer: Brand Collaboration Requirements for Influencers?

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You Ask, I Answer: Brand Collaboration Requirements for Influencers?

In this series, I answer questions from the B2B Influencer Marketing Summit hosted by SAP and Onalytica. I participated in a panel discussion, a format that doesn’t really allow for deep dives into particular questions, so we’re tackling these questions individually here. Today’s question is:

What makes you say yes to a brand collaboration? What makes you say no?

Tune in to hear the more in-depth answer.

You Ask, I Answer: Brand Collaboration Requirements for Influencers?

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Christopher Penn 0:00

In today’s episode we continue with our questions from the B2B influencer marketing Summit held by SAP and analytical as a reminder, it was a panel discussion 30 minutes for for folks and a moderator to answer a bunch of questions.

And, you know, in those situations, you never really get to say everything that comes to mind.

Because you want to make sure that you’re you’re giving airtime to everybody else, everyone has a chance to contribute equally.

So this series is all the stuff that I would have said, If there had been more time.

Today’s question, What makes you say yes to a brand collaboration? What makes you say no? It depends.

And I think that’s probably the the most accurate and most frustrating answer I can give to this.

What matters? The reason I choose a brand collaboration, there’s a few I’ll say no to companies that have direct competitors of mine of Trust Insights, right? That’s kind of a no brainer, if a company is a direct competitor probably don’t want to be undermining my own business interests, which is a valid consideration, right? I have talked with brands who have said, hey, you know, you seem to be an influencer for IBM.

So we probably don’t want to work with you.

Because we’re competitive IBM, that goes both ways.

Right? A brand would say, like, not sure that that’s a good fit.

Things that do matter.

Besides something obvious like that.

values matter, right? Does the brand, do things that make the world objectively better or worse place? When I worked at my old agency, we would get clients who their job was to make the world a worse place.

Right? They did stuff like petroleum extraction from places he probably shouldn’t be extracting petroleum from.

Is it profitable? Yes.

Does it create a a good lifestyle and wages and jobs for people in those places? Yes.

Does it also substantially damage the environment? Also? Yes.

Is that a concern? You bet it is.

And so values alignment is really important when looking at a brand and saying, Do I want to work with this brand? Things that matter? The brand needs to have to open up access to stakeholders and and talent, right? Particularly in B2B marketing.

There’s a lot of software companies, there’s a lot of, you know, SAS services, things like that.

And I am as a buyer, and as an influencer, I am very wary of somebody that will not let me kick the tires on escorted, right.

I know it drives some people crazy.

But I will say to somebody, yeah, just give me a log into the product.

And I remember what you need to do the onboarding and the tour and all stuff like No, but I can’t figure it out.

And I’m a reasonably intelligent person, if I can’t figure out how to use your product with with no guidance, then your product needs improvement, right? Think about something like an iPad, you can hand an iPad to a four year old and pretty quickly, they can figure out what to do.

Right? They don’t need a whole lot of onboarding, to use an iPad, and to get benefit out of it.

That’s the bar.

That is the bar that all software and service companies need to be able to provide to say like, yeah, it will help if you read the manual or do the onboarding, but you don’t need to to be able to get immediate value from the product.

Another thing that I particularly look for, because I talked to a lot of data science and AI companies, let me talk to someone in engineering on escorted, again, both as an influencer and as a buyer.

Let me talk to somebody who there’s there isn’t a brand marketer or a reputation manager like looking over our shoulder the whole time.

I have had the experience where a salesperson said oh yeah, our product does this that the other thing and I talked to the engineer and the engineer is like, no, don’t do any of that.

That’s not what this product does.

And you can usually get more candor, and more.

Were truth out of engineering it at least in the space that I work, and then you will out of sales or marketing.

In a lot of cases, I will have questions where the marketer isn’t equipped to handle the answers.

They just don’t know the answers.

I was talking a number of years ago with the folks at Analytica and I was at their booth at the B2B forum.

And we were talking about graph networks.

And you know, the person in the booth saying, oh, yeah, our software has this type of, you know, proprietary blah, blah, blah for for identifying influencers.

And I said, let me talk to somebody who is on the software side with the engineering side, and we got to they there was someone there, I got to chatting with them.

And they explained like, here’s the algorithm we use.

Here’s the the specific tech Niek and to me that gives the brand credibility.

It says we’re willing to let you look under the hood and say, Huh, this is what’s under here.

Look, it’s hamsters, I’m just kidding.

And conversely, a brand that won’t, don’t work with them, don’t buy from them.

Don’t don’t work, don’t have an influencer relationship with them because they got something to hide.

If you won’t let engineering speak on escorted with a prospect or an influencer, you got something to hide, and that’s not good.

Ideally, your influences should know your product as well as you do.

Ideally, your influences should know its strengths and its weaknesses and be able to talk credibly about that to say like, yeah, this product is not for you, right? To the people who it’s not for real simple example, IBM software for the most part, if you are not a fortune 500 IBM software is not a great fit most of the time, right? dB two is a gigantic database, it is highly reliable, it is highly secure, it is highly a pain in the butt figure.

And you need to know the ins and outs of it right? The IBM z mainframe, your average mom and pop shop does not need that.

Right? They no one needs a mainframe.

If you’ve got like less than 1000 employees.

There’s certain lines of business where that makes total sense.

And if you if you don’t let your influencers, see the inner workings of the products and services, you’re doing them a disservice.

And you’re doing yourself a disservice because they are going to then say things that may not be true.

Or in my case, just won’t work with you because you can’t trust what you don’t see.


So what’s the back end? I’ll give you another example.

The folks over go Charlie, the marketing AI software company, I got a chance to sit down and chat with their chief AI officer dispute acoustal.

And we got super technical.

I was asking about vectorization embeddings, positional encodings, all this stuff that’s part of, you know, large language models.

And she was very frank, she explained where things were things weren’t with the product and stuff.

And as a result of that conversation, I trust that product because the person who’s representing it knows what they’re doing.


So that’s what makes me say yes to a brand collaboration.

The last thing of course, is fair value exchange, right? Is our both parties getting mutual, equitable value, right? It doesn’t necessarily have to be money, a little money never hurts.

But can we use the product? Can we use the product like a customer would? Can we get exposure to a new audience and audience that maybe we don’t have access to? So there’s, there’s different ways to provide value, but the value exchange has to be bilateral, and it has to be mutual access to stakeholders, experts, things like that.

All sorts of things that that there are value in.

So that’s what makes me say yes or no to a brand collaboration.

That’s the third question from the B2B influencer marketing Summit.

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