In the ultra-competitive world of influencer marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in comparison—especially when it comes to brand partnerships . This makes it pretty tempting to accept any and all brand deals you are offered…. After all, that’s the best way to forge new relationships with more brands and make more money, right?
Before you accept another brand partnership, read this first. The art of saying “no” might just be the missing piece in your marketing strategy and honing in on this new habit in the right way could lead to more followers and even better brand deals down the road.
Why “No” Definitely Belongs In Your Vocabulary
“Yes” shouldn’t be the most used term in your business vocabulary, but it is for a lot of influencers. (Sure, I can post in exchange for product. Of course I can get my followers to swipe up on your link! Yes, I have room in my posting schedule to squeeze this in.)
“No” is equally, if not more, important when it comes to business. Think of it as a healthy boundary that allows you to build your brand, not one that stops it from growing.
“By setting boundaries, we find the freedom to behave in our best interest, with fewer distractions and fewer unwanted intrusions,” reports Fortune magazine, noting that the skill to set boundaries is even more critical in an online age where it’s easy for influencers to get distracted or led away from their goals.
Setting boundaries is “one of the most important skills to master for both personal and professional growth,” concludes the business magazine. “And one of the most important aspects of a good fence is the ability to say no to the people, activities and engagements that we do not enjoy or that do not advance us personally or professionally. When you say no to the things that don’t help you, you are, in effect, saying yes to the things that will.”
In other words, when you say no to things that don’t serve you or your purpose, you create the opportunity to say yes to something that will.
Saying yes when we want to say no tends to bite us later, in the form of resentment and exhaustion.” ―Dr. Christine Carter
The fact of the matter is simple―we each have a limited amount of time each day. As influencers, we only have so many posts we can schedule on our editorial calendars each month. If you fill these spaces with partnerships that don’t serve you, you’re essentially wasting your time and potentially missing opportunities that could really help build your brand.
But how do you decide when to say yes and when to say no?
Deciding When to Say No to an Opportunity
Let’s say, a brand approaches you to share their new product with your followers or a PR rep asks you to help promote an upcoming event in your city. Your first inclination, especially if it is a brand or event you are interested in, is likely to say yes. But after accepting the opportunity, you start to wonder…. Is this the right choice for my brand? Am I filling my time with business “clutter” that could prevent me from building a better alliance that would actually move the needle for my business?
One way to help experience some clarity is through a simple decision-making grid. Robin Camarote, founder of Work Life Lab, teaches business leaders and entrepreneurs how to strengthen their business strategy and be more productive.
“I’m constantly trying to find the balance between too little and too much work,” Camarote tells Inc. magazine. She says that for many entrepreneurs, work feels like constantly moving your foot between the brakes and the gas pedal on a gridlocked highway―this is especially true for influencers who are on the clock 24/7. “But I wonder if there is something else I should be doing to minimize the angst,” muses Camarote. “I want to feel like I’m driving towards a goal and not just keeping the car moving. To do that, I need to clearly and confidently be true to myself.”
For her, this starts with not taking every single opportunity that comes her way. First, she created three columns labeled:
- RIGHT FOR RIGHT NOW
She then went through her list of brand partnerships, clients, and business opportunities and categorized them. Her goal was to focus only on partnerships and opportunities in the “RIGHT” column, meaning they were things that aligned with her passions and interests and would make a long-term difference for her company.
“The entire point is clearing the clutter so I have more time to focus [on the RIGHT column],” says Camarote. The projects in the middle column were things that were right, for only for the present moment. “I celebrate these things because they’re providing income, access, or a chance to develop experience today,” she says. “However, I know I need a longer-term exit strategy as they start to move the towards ‘WRONG’ category.”
As for the projects that ended up in the WRONG category, the exercise helped her identify what opportunities were holding her back and taking up time, thereby preventing her from doing more of what was in the RIGHT column.
How to Say No to Work Opportunities That Don’t Serve Your PURPOSE
1. Meditate On It
We don’t necessarily want you to go to a yoga studio and “om” your way to business bliss―we simply want you to slow down and not rush into making a decision when a brand or company comes to us with a new campaign.
Why? Our emotions can get clouded in the heat of the moment which can negatively affect our decision making skills. “Feelings of anxiety generated by the possibility of saying ‘no’ can escalate into a full-blown threat response, an emotional state in which we have diminished capacity to process information and consider options,” warns the Harvard Business Review. “Slowing down the pace of an interaction or a decision-making process can allow us to catch up and make the choice that’s right for us, not merely the choice that alleviates our anxiety in the moment.”
Try the “24-hour” rule. When an opportunity presents itself, give yourself one full day to accept or decline the offer. This will give you a chance to really consider whether this deal fits into the RIGHT column, and if it’s worth your time.
2. Short Term Benefits vs. Long Term Costs
Some campaigns are extremely attractive based on their immediate, short-term benefits. This might mean a potential boost in your following, exposure to traditional media, or even a chance to produce your own merchandise. But when you dive a little deeper, you might find that the long-term costs severely outweigh the short-term benefits. Perhaps the opportunity pigeonholes you into a niche or category you don’t fully identify with, or maybe this campaign requires you to give up some of your social media autonomy and change up your aesthetic. Always trust your gut and try to think ahead. Short-term benefits aren’t always worth it.
3. Say “No” With Graciousness
When it’s time to say “no”, be upfront, honest, and gracious with the brand proposing the partnership. Don’t make excuses about why you’re turning down the opportunity, make your priorities clear (you never know, the brand may have another opportunity that better aligns with your brand) and never apologize for doing what is right for you. By declining an offer . with confidence and kindness, you will preserve the relationship with that brand long-term in case you decide to partner in the future.
Ready to get #paid by brands like Toyota, Canon, and H&M? Join #ThePaidCrew community and start partnering with world-class brands like these today.
By day, Josh Duvauchelle is the co-founder of Frey Union, a marketing firm in Vancouver, BC. By night, he’s a health and wellness coach featured in Teen Vogue, Men’s Journal, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and more. Find him on Instagram under @joshduv. Josh is a member of #ThePaidCrew editorial team.
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