Influencer marketing is at an all-time high and brands are depending on content creators to promote their products authentically, while making sure to hit all the important details about the brand and their products. Content creators just starting their brand sponsorship journey may question - how do I know what to say about the company and its products/services? Do I have to read out the talking points exactly as they are sent to me? How do I make the ad-read sound less like, well, a commercial?
There are many steps that take place before a piece of content containing a brand sponsorship goes live - in this article, we will focus on talking points.
Just like its name suggests, talking points are the important details creators must include in their ad-read. The brand sends over a snippet about the brand and its product or service, usually detailing the main idea, the unique selling point, and of course, the price and special offer.
In many cases, the brand also makes sure to send the product to the influencers in order to allow them to give it a try, which in turn, helps the ad-read sound more authentic. For YouTubers, It also enables the creator to show the product on-screen and how it's used.
So, the creator is sent the talking points - what’s next?
The first step is obviously reading over the talking points and understanding the brand’s message and how the product/service works. While this may seem obvious, the more you know about the brand and its products, the more comfortable you will be promoting it.
You should understand which details in the talking points are ‘suggestions’ and what parts you need to share ‘word for word’. For example, if the brand suggests describing the product as ‘the best breakfast to get you out of bed’, you don’t have to parrot the exact wording. This is where you can definitely add your own personal touch - and where your personal experience with the product and service really comes in handy. However, if there are specific details - such as, percentages, ingredients, discounts, etc. - you will need to make sure to share these pieces of information word for word.
Here’s a great example - MissMangoButt was sponsored by Athletic Greens in her video A New Chapter and she managed to seamlessly integrate the ad-read into her vlog-style video. During the ad-read, she leads into the actual sponsorship with her own, personal snippet - “before my first meal of the day, I have to drink my AG1’s by Athletic Greens…I need something that will support me while I live my life and that is AG1 by Athletic Greens ”. Stephanie Soo then shares the specific details, “AG1 contains 75 different ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, superfoods, and probiotics…AG1 focuses on healthy aging and they have antioxidants that counteract the impact of free radicals which causes cell damage and AG1 provides brain support. And, as for energy, AG1 has energy supporting ingredients like natural forms of B12…”
Throughout the promotion, this YouTuber manages to jump between the intricate pieces of information Athletic Greens expects her to include (word for word) and funny anecdotes (the reason millions of viewers turn to her channel). For example, “I am going to be honest with you, I know the color is throwing you off and to be transparent, it’s not going to taste like fried chicken or a bag of chips. The first time I had it, I was expecting it to be bitter. But, it’s actually not, it has a pineapple scent to it, like that's the vibe.”
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You know your audience best - that’s why the brand chose you to promote their product. So, it is important to not only understand how to present the ‘mandatory’ points in a way that will be best received by your audience, but what personal touch you can add in order to better connect the brand and its products to your audience.
For example, Kara and Nate have been sponsored by Surfshark over 17 times. Why? Because these travel vloggers know how to promote a VPN service in an engaging, relatable way. Throughout their various Surfshark integrations, the duo hit the ‘word for word’ talking points - “it encrypts all the information sent between our computer and the internet so that no one can steal our personal data”. However, they also make sure to add their own reasons for enjoying Surfshark’s VPN - “whether we are driving around the US or traveling the world, we know that we’re protected…we’ve been using it for over a year and it's the only VPN to offer one account for unlimited devices”. Viewers of Kara and Nate’s channel are likely interested in traveling or at least understand the challenge and fear of accessing your personal online information in a foreign country. So, the key points these creators mention help catch viewers’ attention and interest in this service.
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Once you know what you’re going to say and have rewritten the talking points in your own words - throw away the script. Don’t freak out - no need to shred your script, just put it off to the side (a very far side).
There is nothing worse for your audience than the feeling that you are reading off of a script - it completely ruins the feeling of authenticity and immediately turns the ad-read into a much less-engaging experience. By throwing your script to the side, it will ensure you don’t feel prompted to read off of the script and it will allow you to add your own personal touch (beyond what you wrote on the script).
Remember, the brand turned to YOU because they feel that you could promote the brand and products in a genuine, authentic manner, and they appreciate your understanding of your audience. While the brand is obviously an expert in their product, you are an expert in understanding their target audiences’ needs, interest, and pain points. With the help of the talking points, you are able to bridge these two spheres of expertise - tailoring the otherwise typical ad into an interesting, relatable promotion.
Influencer marketing relies on one thing: authenticity. But, when you are reading someone else’s words and trying to convince your audience to buy something, you can often lose some of that authenticity.
So, what can you do to make your talking points sound as genuine as possible?
It’s extremely important to actually give the product a try because then you can really share your experience and advice. The brand isn’t sending you the product or access to the service because they love giving away stuff for free, they want you to test it out in order to receive your genuine (most likely positive) experience. You might even describe the product/service and experience in ways the brands marketing department didn’t even think of. Also, by trying out the off-camera product beforehand, you save yourself the hassle of trying to figure out how it works on-camera.
The best sponsorships are the ones that make both the brand and channel unforgettable. It obviously depends on the kind of service/product and brand, but many times, companies are pretty open-minded about how the creator should present an ad-read. The brand has obviously seen your channel and has a pretty good idea of your style so don’t be afraid to enjoy the ad-read.
Here’s a great example:
Viewers love getting to know the creator on a personal level - difficulties they may have, what they enjoy doing when they aren’t filming, a look into their personal lives off-screen. If you are able to include any of these aspects while creating the ad-read, it’ll definitely help the promotion feel more authentic. For example, if you are a food-related YouTuber and you are sponsored by Magic Spoon - showing that, despite your incredible cooking abilities, you also love starting your morning with a bowl of cereal, it’ll make you seem more relatable to your viewers (especially those that also love cereal).
Now that you organized your script or even recorded the actual ad-read, how do you seamlessly integrate the sponsorship into your content without making it feel like an ad-break.
Obviously experience plays a huge role in really nailing seamlessly jumping into an ad-read. But, for those just getting started with brand sponsorships, here are some tips to keep in mind:
When it comes to seamlessly jumping into an ad-read, Adam Ragusea is one of the best. Check out his integration with HelloFresh, which includes all the tips mentioned above:
There isn’t a correct way to hit the talking points, stay authentic and ensure a successful brand sponsorship. But, brands turned to your channel because they feel (with help from data and thorough research) that you can promote the brand and its products in the best way possible. There are so many channels on YouTube and they chose yours for a reason - keep that in mind! By keeping all these points in the back of your mind and building up your sponsorship experience, you will slowly get the hang of your style and method to creating authentic, engaging, successful ad-reads.
If you want to get even more tips and tricks to nailing YouTube sponsorships, make sure to check out our channel.