RVE 197: How to Stand Out from the Noise & Attract Brand Partnerships as a Content Creator

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I think once (maybe twice?) before I’ve done a Q&A episode here on the podcast and today’s is random, but comes from our RV Entrepreneur Facebook group where Brittany posted a question about working with brands.

We’ve worked with quite a few brands over the years:

  • Documentary sponsored by Snagajob
  • Podcast sponsored by Camping World, CoPilot, weBoost, and so on.
  • RV Entrepreneur Summit sponsored by Winnebago, Camping World, Good Sam, Dometic, Jellystone Parks, and so on.

So to save everyone from reading some marathon-length Facebook comments, I asked in the Facebook group for anyone with questions to leave me a voicemail so I could answer them right here on the podcast! So today’s episode answers two big questions on sponsorship. Enjoy!

Brittany’s question: How can I maintain a relationship with a brand if they passed on my proposal?

(You can listen to the podcast episode above to hear the full voicemail)

When we first got to know the folks over at Winnebago we pitched them on this crazy cross-country trip for a movie premiere we were helping market. They passed. But here we are four years after that “no” sitting in a free Winnebago.

Even though they passed on our first idea, we kept up our relationship going by:

1. Keep in touch with the point of contact.

Even if you’re not working together (yet), check in with them regularly. Every month or two is good. Maybe share an article you think they might like or ask them how a campaign they were working on went. Just be authentic and keep building up that personal relationship.

2. Use the product and share online.

If you’re going to work with a brand, odds are you use their product/service regularly. (If not, why are you trying to work with them?) You should be their #1 fan online. Share on social media, link to them on your blogs or videos—when they think of someone to promote them in the future

3. Hone your photography, writing, and video skills.

It’s 2020 and guess what? Brands still need content. Show that you are a skilled content creator. Work on becoming a better photographer (some of the best advice we got from Winnebago early on was to up our photo game. I’m now hugely embarrassed to see what our photos looked like before that comment and while I’m no Peter McKinnon, I’m way more thoughtful about taking good photos. Bonus: the iPhone camera gets better every year so you can up your photo and video skills without the hefty financial investment.

4. Visit in person.

This is HUGE. No one does this anymore but it really deepens that relationship. At our first RV Entrepreneur Summit, we got to meet some of the folks from Winnebago in person for the first time and it was that first meeting that led to working on bigger projects. It may mean paying for a flight or travel costs, but if it makes you thousands of dollars in the future, then it’s worth that investment.

Adam’s question: Why am I not getting the meeting?

(You can listen to the podcast episode above to hear the full voicemail)

Back in 2017, we had the keys (okay, passwords) to all of Winnebago’s social media accounts. We were hired interim after their social media manager moved away to take over social controls for about six months.

Regularly, we would see messages from people asking for free or almost free RVs.

Winnebago ignores 100% of these messages. (And so will every other big brand)

That is unless they already know you.

Big brands get hit up DAILY with requests like this and we are talking about high-priced products. If you were asking for a free copy of a book, that’s a different story. But RVs can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Our Forza retails for around $300K.)

That said, it’s not unheard of for big companies to still do this. I wouldn’t be sitting in a 2020 Winnebago Forza right now if they didn’t. The difference is we already had a long-standing relationship with Winnebago. Before you go asking for thousands of dollars of merchandise, you have to prove that you’re a sure investment.

You can do this by first buying their product. We wouldn’t be in a Winnebago if we didn’t first buy our own in 2015. And if we didn’t consequently join their blogging team and create that on-going relationship. We were loud fans of Winnebago long before they ever paid us for anything. In fact, early podcast episodes that are “sponsored by Winnebago Life” weren’t sponsored because we were paid for those ad spots. They gave us $0 for those. We just knew that giving Winnebago love whenever we could would ultimately give us a higher return one day so we added them in.

So while you’re waiting to make that connection with a brand, do two things to get noticed:

1. (Repeating myself a little here) Up your video and photo skills.

These are assets that brands pay for so if you’re awesome at them, you’ll be front of mind for upcoming projects. Our friend Jon went to a photo workshop hosted by Joe Hendricks (you’ve possibly seen his amazing photos for Airstream & Winnebago). It was a $500 investment, but one that has landed him gigs with bigs brands like Go RVing and Winnebago. Jon’s also going to be our photographer at our RVE Summit this year because he’s that awesome.

2. Find your angle.

What sets you apart?

RVing the country with your family isn’t unique. There are over a million full-time RVers and to stand out you need to share a unique story. Cortni Armstrong of the Flipping Nomad is a great example of this. She moved into an RV out of necessity, but made lemonade out of lemons by creating a business based on flipping RVs. Now she’s partnered with Keystone and just created the most over-the-top RV I’ve ever seen. (She’ll be sharing her full story on the main stage at our Summit!)

I really enjoyed recording this style of episode, so if you enjoyed and have a question for me, leave me a voicemail! Just record straight from your computer here 🙂