women in travel summit by wanderful

In the nearly three years we’ve been planning the Women in Travel Summit, we’ve learned a thing or two about the dynamic between bloggers and brands at a summit like ours. Mainly, you both are dying to meet each other.

Did you know that today, blogs are the #1 resource that Millennials are using to make purchasing decisions? Did you also know that 65% of companies work with influencers to get their message out (which also means that one in three companies still doesn’t)?

Digital influencers are revolutionizing the marketing space, and we’re no stranger to the increasing importance they’re playing in the professional world.

The truth, though, is that even though more and more companies are working with bloggers, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to make your case for why a company should work with you. There are thousands (millions?) of bloggers out there — how do you stand out? What can you offer a brand? How can you help them reach their marketing goals and come back to you begging for more?

As you gear up for WITS, take these tips to heart. They’ll help you during our weekend of excitement and for many months to come.

Fine Tune Your Goals Ahead of Time

Before you even get to WITS, you should know what types of partnerships you are looking to establish, how you want to work with sponsors and industry reps, and who you want to meet. Think about what you’re good at and how you can provide value to both your readers and your partners.

Do your readers respond extremely well to your product reviews? Are you looking to visit more places and get on more press trips? Do you want to score an official sponsor who receives a comprehensive marketing package on your site? Or are you simply just looking to build relationships for now? Think about what you’re going to WITS for, and what types of partnerships you want to leave with.

women in travel summit by wanderful

Photo courtesy of Kayti Burt/Women in Travel Summit by Wanderful.

Do Your Research

This year, we’re giving you everything you need to learn about the companies attending WITS well before you arrive. Keep your eyes peeled on witsummit.com to see what sponsors and industry reps are attending beforehand, and visit their profiles to see who’s attending. Get to know the company. Have they worked with bloggers before? Have they attended a blogging summit before? Do they seem to have clear goals in mind, or are they open to your ideas?

Set Up Meetings

Even if you have every intention of meeting with all of the sponsors and industry reps on your list, sometimes time slips away from us at conferences. If there is an opportunity with someone you absolutely do not want to pass up, set up a meeting with them so you can be confident you will have time to get to know each other. Use the 30 minute coffee breaks between sessions to your advantage or set up a time during session activities where you can have a quieter moment with an industry member you’re really looking to connect with.

Practice Your “Elevator Pitch”

Can you tell us what your blog is about in 30 seconds or less? How about a minute? Practice a couple iterations of your pitch, from an “elevator pitch” (a pitch so short that you could supposedly complete it in an elevator and keep your audience hungry for more) to a 3- or 5-minute explanation. This is your chance to make a memorable impression!

Don’t forget: pitches are meant to be about how your audience can benefit from you. Don’t spend too much time talking about your individual goals and plans, but rather talk about how your blog helps deliver value to its advertisers. That’s what they want to know!

Leave Your Shyness at the Door

One of the things we’ve noticed at past WITS events is that, sometimes, our sponsors are just as nervous as our attendees! It takes a lot to stand behind a table and engage someone in conversation that you’ve never met before. Take the initiative to be extra outgoing and friendly when you meet the industry members at WITS. Don’t be afraid to go up to their table and ask them questions about their company, their marketing goals, how they work with bloggers, why they came to WITS, and other things that might help you develop a partnership. If you can approach them and make an amazing first impression, they’ll remember you over the other 498 people at the summit.

WITS 2015 attendees having fun at the opening night party.

women in travel summit by wanderful

Photo courtesy of Ashley Hufford/Women in Travel Summit by Wanderful.

Create a Great Media Kit

Your media kit doesn’t need to be more than a page, but you should definitely have one. It allows your audience to leave with something tangible and to remember you after they get home and clear their head from a busy and exciting weekend. Have it be short and to the point. There are a number of excellent media kits online and a quick Google search will give you more than enough examples to work with!

Don’t Let Numbers Hold You Back

While numbers are still important, it’s not always about having the most followers. Engagement speaks volumes and if you can show that your readers are engaged with what you’re saying, sponsors will be scrambling at the door for you. If you’re new, consider using metrics like growth rather than number of readers. That can show a potential partner that you’re worth investing in now.

Follow Up

If you don’t follow up with someone you’ve spoken with after WITS is over, shame on you! This is possibly one of the best ways to keep connections flowing. Just because you may not work with someone right away, doesn’t mean you won’t ever work together. Keep in touch with a quick email (and a reminder of who you are), or find them on LinkedIn. You’ll be glad you did.

Delivering Value Goes Both Ways

Think about how working together will benefit both of you. There are so many different ways for brands to work with bloggers, and the best partnerships are those that are mutually beneficial. Don’t be afraid to pitch new ideas if you can think of a great way that you can find success together!

women in travel summit by wanderful

Photo courtesy of Kayti Burt/Women in Travel Summit by Wanderful.

Most Importantly, Have Fun!

WITS is an amazing opportunity to get front-and-center with some great companies and a whole community of bloggers who you will enjoy meeting and learning from. At the end of the day, you’ll get out of it exactly what you put in, so take it easy, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and have a great time!

This post was written by WITS ’16 Planning Team Member Marissa Sutera.