Influencer partnership is a flexible and powerful marketing tool. Whether the goal is to make a splash around a product launch, create a firehose of new site traffic, or generate awareness among an untapped audience, creators consistently deliver on a vast variety of brand KPIs. But to think about influencer marketing only in terms of isolated moments or one-off contracts is to miss out on a hugely important opportunity: to not just generate, but sustain consumer attention and engagement.

For brands new to influencer marketing, short-term partnerships can be an important foot in the door—and can of course drive outstanding results in terms of awareness, traffic, and more. DR campaigns focused on driving consumer action like sampling, for example, can be supercharged by influencer marketing tactics.

But brands should always, always be thinking about how to extend one-off creator partnerships to long-term relationships. Because while every brand and every campaign is unique, three universal truths make clear that short-term agreements are just short-sighted.

The first undeniable truth: consumers’ feeds have never been more crowded by brands seeking their attention than they are today—and they will be even more crowded tomorrow. In such saturated environments, audiences have learned to see right through “pay to play” content, and they can very easily scroll right by it. Breaking through the noise, communicating authenticity, and generating true consumer engagement requires the type of thoughtful co-creation that is hard to accomplish with a short-term strategy.

Secondly, on a similar note, consumers expect brands to cultivate relationships with the influencers they adore. Influencers are not billboards; they’re human beings. And influencers’ followers want to see evidence of commitment to their favorite creators, the type of commitment that a brand shows when it signs a star athlete to a multi-year sponsorship contract.

Finally, putting on our CFO hats, long-term contracts drive price savings for brands. By purchasing a greater volume of content from or establishing more requirements with one creator, brands can achieve an efficiency of scale. Within long-term agreements, trust grows. Discounts are more likely to be applied. Price-gouging is less likely to occur. It’s a win-win for both brands and creators.

For an excellent example of relationship-building with powerful influencers, let’s consider recent campaigns from Morphe Cosmetics. When Morphe engaged the creators Jeffree Star and James Charles, the brand made some of the expected moves: providing the influencers with PR gifts, promoting affiliate discount codes, and creating sponsored videos. But those short-term strategies were just pieces of a bigger long-term play.

Morphe went on to create brushes with Jeffree Star as part of the #MorpheXJeffreeStar campaign. The brand also launched a custom palette with James Charles under the #MorpheXJamesCharles umbrella. Both products sold out in day.

Bottom line: as they are human beings, and not billboards, influencers have far more to offer than just the size of their audiences. And we can’t recommend highly enough that brands involve their creator partners in product and marketing decisions while putting together campaign plans.

Don’t play it safe. Take your influencer marketing to the next level by looking beyond today and tomorrow—and into a future where influencers are irreplaceable partners in sustaining consumer attention and engagement in an even more noisy world.