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9 Effective Ways To Negotiate With Influencers (Without Being Unfair To Creators)

February 27, 2023
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Rochi Zalani
Content Writer, Modash
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Cringey. Scary. Risky.

Influencer negotiation doesn’t often feel the best. Your palms sweat, your heartbeat pumps slightly, and your shoulders recoil. What do you do — lay all your cards on the table and share your budget? Or wait for their anchor rate? What if the creator refuses to engage if you lowball them too much?

Negotiating with creators doesn’t have to be so puzzling and spine-chilling. Not when it’s done right.

Here are nine strategies to negotiate with influencers in a way that makes both — your boss and your creative partners — giddy with joy. 🤩

9 ways to negotiate with potential influencers for your brand

Before we begin: this article isn’t a guide to underpaying influencers. Content creation is hard work, and influencers should be compensated fairly for their toil — whether that’s a YouTube video or an Instagram Story.

Modash’s mission is to help every creator earn a living. We do this by ensuring creator partnerships are a win-win for both parties.

Alright, let’s get into it! 👇

1: Use influencer analysis tools for a data-backed negotiation

Having a pulse on the performance of an influencer’s content and profiles will help you confidently enter the negotiation conversation and craft a deal both sides will be satisfied with.

You can clearly voice your expectations — like “I expect X% reach/sales/clicks from you with your engagement rate and follower count” — and have a solid ground to stand on for the anchor number you choose.

For example, if you believe an influencer is quoting a rate that is too high, you can justify why (e.g. fake followers are higher than expected, or past paid post performance is below average).

What should you know before entering a negotiation conversation? There are several questions you should ask:

  • Does this influencer align with your brand’s values?
  • How does the influencer’s sponsored content perform?
  • Does this influencer have good audience reachability?
  • Do this influencer’s followers match your target audience?
  • Does this influencer engage with their audience and entice action?
  • Does this influencer have a lot of fake followers? (Modash’s fake follower tool is your best friend.)
  • Does this influencer have a good engagement rate? (Pssst…use an engagement rate calculator to make this easy-peasy.)

How to find all this data? By using an influencer analysis tool like Modash's influencer analytics platform. It provides you with all these numbers (and more!).

2: Reduce the base fee in exchange for higher performance bonuses

If you follow performance-based influencer marketing (which we recommend), try negotiating a lower activation or base fee in exchange for a higher performance bonus.

For instance, if you pay an influencer a base fee of $300 per post and 7% of every sale, try negotiating it to $200 in exchange for offering a 9% cut of every purchase (if your margin allows). This way, you reduce your fixed costs associated with each creator and only pay a bigger chunk when an influencer brings you enough revenue.

If you don’t already practice performance-based payments, start by combining your influencer marketing campaign with an affiliate program like Savvy Rest.

📝 Further reading: 11 Ways To Find Affiliates For Your Brand

3: Negotiate the scope of work instead of the influencer rate

Steal this negotiation tactic out of my freelance playbook: you don’t always have to ask the influencer for a lower fee, you can also ask them to increase their scope of work for the same rate.

For instance, if an influencer is charging you a $300 base fee for one Instagram post, ask them if you can also add two Instagram Stories to their influencer brief at that rate. This strategy requires some wiggle room in your influencer marketing budget, but it’s worth the shot.

Another example: you can ask an influencer to throw in X days of content licensing for you to repurpose the content without extra cost.

4: Offer long-term collaboration in exchange for a discounted influencer rate

You know how Modash (or literally any other subscription service) gives you a discount if you buy a yearly subscription over the monthly one? 😉

It’s a negotiation principle you can use in your influencer deals: ask the influencer for a discount in exchange for a long-term contract.

Why would the influencer agree to this offer? There are three reasons:

  • It gets easier to create different assets for the same brand because they understand your expectations
  • Creators love the stability of knowing where their next paycheck is coming from
  • Consistent partnerships with one brand look more authentic on their feed

It’s also an A-card for you:

  • Partnering with the same influencer means less time spent finding new influencers
  • You build trust and gain visibility with a new audience because a creator posts about you consistently
  • Managing influencer relationships is less work because you’ve already done the legwork in the beginning

How to offer a long-term collaboration if the influencer demands a higher fee? Tweak this template:

“Hey {influencer name}, we love working with you and would be ecstatic to continue our collaboration.Currently, our budget is $XXX for {the type of deliverables you’re expecting from the influencer}, but we’d like to find a way to continue working with you. In exchange for the negotiated rate, we’re happy to commit for a longer period to offer some income security. We can sign a contract of X months, to begin with.What do you think?”

Have an open and honest conversation with the influencer about your budget and expectations. Don’t be afraid to renegotiate with other perks — like free products — if the long-term contract alone doesn’t cut it for them.

⚠️ Remember: only offer long-term influencer contracts to creators you enjoy working with and who give you the most bang for your buck. You don’t want to get tied to a six months contract with an influencer who doesn’t give you tangible results.

5: Provide non-monetary rewards instead of paying a higher influencer fee

If you have a tight influencer marketing budget, I have excellent news: money isn’t everything.

You think Rihanna performed at the Super Bowl for free just cuz ✨ tradition ✨? Nah. She did it for her brand, Fenty Beauty — which reportedly earned $5 million in media impact value in just 12 hours after the performance.

There are plenty of ways to pay influencers — and not all have to be some moolah in their wallet. Some other ideas include:

  • VIP access to company events
  • Gifting products and merchandise
  • Travel expenses for the campaign
  • First access to new product launches
  • Resharing their content on your social media
  • Promoting their content in your company newsletter
  • Sending your own film crew to take some production burden off their to-do list

6: Go with your BATNAs (alternative options) ready in the negotiation talk

In his book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher and William Ury coined the term, BATNA, which stands for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. Essentially, Fisher and Ury suggest you go prepared with alternative courses of action in case you don’t reach your desired outcome.

For instance, if you reach out to an influencer to promote your product and they balk at your budget, what’s the next best thing you can do that creates a win-win situation for both parties?

Having multiple options in the pipeline will give you immense confidence in the negotiation room. You won’t feel desperate or scramble for words because you know precisely what your counteroffer would be.

For example, if the influencer’s rates don’t match your budget, you can offer:

  • An increased commission for every sale they bring in
  • Perks like free products, invitations to events, and first dibs on new launches
  • Lightening the creator’s load by sending your brand’s production team or equipment

The art of negotiation is half won if you go prepared.

7: Do a product seeding campaign to get your foot-in-the-door

Getting someone to agree to a small request increases the likelihood that they’ll agree to your second, larger request. It’s called the foot-in-the-door technique.

(It’s not a guarantee, but if you’ve ever negotiated with a toddler to sleep by asking them to brush their teeth first, you know what I’m talking about.)

Influencer product seeding — or giving your product to relevant influencers for free, no strings attached — makes for a great foot-in-the-door technique. You just ask them for their address first and get your foot in the door before you negotiate a bigger deal.

📝 Further reading: A 7-Step Guide to Influencer Product Seeding (With Examples)

8: Tailor your messaging to the influencers’ goals and needs

As much as I love templates, they aren’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to influencer negotiation. Why? They don’t consider your specific influencer’s current needs and priorities.

For example, a micro-influencer might be tempted to partner with you in exchange for free products and a cut of sales they bring in. But macro-influencers receiving hundreds of monthly PR packages will shoo you away without an activation payment and/or base fee.

Patrick Campbell tested data from 18.3K customers reading a landing page and noticed the phrasing “Save you money” leads to a 28.6% increase in conversions, while “Make you money” only brings in a 6.7% conversion increase. Why? Because customers think they’re in a recession right now.

Whether it’s landing pages or negotiating with a creator, how you phrase your email is crucial. Avoid aggressive terminologies like “rejecting” or “accepting” and instead use more cooperation-friendly terms like “mutually beneficial” and “brainstorming solutions” to give the perception of it being a conversation and not an influencer vs. brand battle.

9: Use social proof to build trust with potential influencers

You examine creators by checking how they have collaborated with other companies + how their branded content has performed. Influencers vet you the same way.

If you have worked with influencers before, ask for testimonials about their experience and showcase them when negotiating with other creators.

Lululemon uses this tactic and has a “get to know our ambassadors page” for every local and global brand ambassador they have onboard.

You can also take it up a notch by highlighting why influencers love working with you and the results they have achieved since collaborating with your brand. Social proof makes your proposal rock solid and gives you some bricks to stand on as you negotiate.

Negotiating doesn’t have to be spooky ☠️

As daunting as negotiating sounds, with the right mindset and strategies under your belt, it’s a cakewalk. Remember, the goal is to arrive at an agreement that makes sense for both you and the influencer.

The best part? It gets easier (and less icky) with practice.

 
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