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I received an email last week, from a third party marketing firm, with the subject “Collaboration with [Tool Brand] – We’d love to work with you!” Let’s talk about the brief conversation we had with them.
I’m replacing the real company name with [Tool Brand].
Here’s what they said:
I recently came across your Instagram page and I loved your content!
I run the influencer program for [Tool Brand (link)], a new brand that offers premium tools and pocket knives that will help you perform from daily tasks to the toughest activities (Watch here [Tool Brand] YouTube video ad (link))
You and your audience are a great fit, and we would love to collaborate with you!
Let me know if you’re interested and I can send you more details,
Have a good one!
I checked their website and saw an interesting product or two – even if not very innovative – and the brand says they make their knives and tools in the USA. Brands that manufacture tools in the USA are always given a chance, and so I decided to hear them out.
I also watched their video, and it was viral-hipster-cheesy in tone, with one-liners such as “Once you whip that thing out, you’re not going to be able to stop playing with it.”
Thanks for reaching out!
The [Tool Brand] brand has some curious offerings – what do you have in mind?
It seems that [Tool Brand’s] flagship products are their OTF knives, but I’d be very hesitant to review something like this due to its mixed legality depending on the state.
OTF knives are “out the front” – basically automatic knives, or switchblades. The company has some other products and accessories that look interesting, and they might come out with other more suitable products in the future, but automatic knives aren’t appropriate for review purposes here.
Here is their response:
Thank you for your interest in a collaboration with [Tool Brand].
We have an affiliate program we would love you to join. You can click here to sign up.
Once you are admitted into the program we will send you [Tool Brand] products, a discount code, affiliate link, and ready-to-use campaign content that will help you increase your conversions and commission!
We offer a 10% commission per sale. You would have the freedom to create the type of content you know it’ll work best for sales and at the same time that fits and engages with your audience and purpose.
For any questions about Knife Laws and Regulations please refer to brand-name-website/shipping-returns
Let me know if you have any other questions.
We’re excited to start working with you!
Sometimes an awkward first email paves the way for a better conversation, but that wasn’t the case here.
First, this is basically what it says about knife laws & regulations on their website:
the buyer is responsible for investigating and complying with the laws and regulations that apply in his or her specific area.
I said I’d be hesitant to review automatic knives, and they directed me to a completely unhelpful page. This was the first sign that they don’t want to work with me, they just want to enlist affiliates to do a lot of the brand-building for them.
Affiliate links, discount codes, and review samples don’t sound all that bad. But ready-to-use campaign content? That seems a bit… eww. So do they want me to just copy/paste posts to get you to buy their products?
Oh, but it will help me increase my conversions and commission?
All of these things give a clear picture into the brand’s intent, or at least their marketer firm’s strategy. They don’t want to collaborate with me, they pretty much only want me to be a sales rep. Read over the quoted parts and tell me if you disagree.
They don’t say “here’s our story” or “here’s what you’ll like about our products,” they tell me I would be free to “create the type of content” that would allow me to sell their products to you.
Would you have expected me to say yes to any of this? Would you have wanted me to say yes to this? Would you want any blogger, YouTuber, or Instagram influencer to eagerly “collaborate” with this brand?
This is what all affiliates want from me, to sell tools and create revenue for them, and that’s fine. I know that tool brands and retailers want any relationship with me and ToolGuyd to lead to greater sales and higher revenue, but that’s their goal, not mine.
It’s also not my role to do a brand’s marketing job for them.
These emails are also missing any compelling reason why I should pay attention to this brand and its products.
I checked their website again, just to make sure, and while inoffensive, it looked to be a cookie-cutter storefront, with little more substance than their email. It also struck me odd that they’re already discounting their new products.
How many words did they write in trying to convince me to be an affiliate? And how many words did they write in telling me about their actual products?
There’s no hope in selling me on an affiliate program or any other type or collaboration or partnership without first selling me on the tools. I gave this brand a chance to do that, and they blew it.
Not every outreach effort will win me over, but this one struck a nerve.
Are you interested in more “business side” posts like this one? I like sharing such things because it can provide you with greater perspective about how I approach things, and partly because I often feel alone in my priorities.