[Influencer marketing] I lost a quarter million dollar proposal and here’s why that’s good

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

In late 2018, I received a phone call and I even answered. A company wanted to partner with me. They had apparently seen my fitness blog posts – some of which draw a surprising amount of traffic.

They wanted me to do some video testimonials commercials.

So far so good.

What’s the product?

A new male enhancement something. Don’t remember if it’s a pill, liquid or both.

Okay. I reviewed some of the materials and asked: “is this for men working out?”

“Sure, but it’s really for all men.”


I read further.

It was all about sex – not that I’m opposed to sex at all.

I asked further: “can I see the video script?”

Sure. They sent it. I cut a couple “penile” mentions but overall I could say that.

Intimacy spokesman Christoph at your service!

Publishers, always ask why somebody wants to partner with you!

In the meantime, I kept asking myself: Why do they want to partner with me?

Certainly, my audience is partially male and maybe it’s enough men for them to reach just enough.

Another day, I received a pitch from an Adult Studio. Same thinking I guess. A percentage of my audience certainly watches porn and I quickly replied with a content marketing offer. Props to them too that porn or no porn the topic of future of content delivery certainly would be interesting to readers on here.

Takeaways: If you are a publisher and somebody you don’t consider a client contacts you for coverage, ask yourself “why.” And then consider selling them something!

So back to the male enhancement thing. I didn’t see how it would fit my audience, but okay.

I wrote back:

I would be happy to do the video, share it on a page on here and drive traffic with inline ads. Total investment: US$250,000.

I figured that this would be my threshold for something like this in an influencer campaign. For now. (Dynamic pricing, baby. So if somebody asks me later this year it could be more!)

They wrote back saying they’d consider it.

Then a few days later (paraphrased): After further review, we don’t think your audience is as close of a match. Thanks for your time.

No problem. I thought it was a stretch, too, though I would have tried it for that amount and then deal with any negative or positive outcomes.

What’s interesting to remember about this too is that sometimes the people that contact us to reach our audience may not know if it’s a fit either.

Or maybe they only want to pay a certain amount.

I have people email all the time about sponsored links and most of them try to negotiate so much that it’s barely worth it for me to talk with them. I even added a note to my always-on out-of-office replies.

My recommendation: When people want to reach your audience, always reply – even if it’s a templated reply:

Thanks for emailing. We are happy to partner but keep in mind there’s a fee. Let me know if you like to proceed.

Then go from there. Try to automate the process as much as possible. I use out of office, then send them to Calendly for automatic scheduling. Or PayPal.me for easy payment.

In the old world of journalism, not responding was fine and expected. Today in content marketing turn the inbound pitch into an outbound opportunity. Heck, they already showed interest in you!