How to Negotiate with Influencers to Feature Your Brand (Full Guide)

Sep 15, 2023
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Influencer marketing isn’t just about paying for reach to someone’s audience.

It’s a preferred tactic for companies looking to humanise their brand – a concept every brand should prioritise today.

84% of consumers say they want brands to treat them like humans. When the alternative is a spreadsheet filled with demographics and numbers, it’s a pretty reasonable request.

Working with the right influencers can bridge that gap.

That’s probably why about half of brands say influencer marketing ROI is better than other channels. Almost 90% say it’s at least comparable, if not better.

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The ROI speaks volumes. Because while about half of brands spend 20% or less of their marketing budgets on influencers, a sizeable 17% of brands devote more than half to influencer campaigns.

ROI – regardless of the tactic – is always a numbers game.

That’s why learning how to negotiate with influencers is critical. (Along with due diligence regarding their audience research.) Negotiating can’t guarantee results but can certainly help you keep control of your budget and campaigns.

Plus, prepping to negotiate gives you a way better grasp of your influencer marketing strategy.

Get Your Influencer Marketing Strategy Straight Before Negotiating

Before you learn how to negotiate with influencers, work out the marketing strategy basics behind the scenes.

No, this isn’t about researching influencers. It’s about laying the foundation to prevent mistakes before you ever message an influencer: content types, exclusivity rights, NDAs, contracts, and all that fun stuff.

As of 2020, only an estimated 14% of influencer posts were compliant with Federal Trade Commission laws in the U.S. Meanwhile, two-thirds of brands admitted they had experienced influencer fraud.

Influencer marketing campaigns are still business relationships. You can’t come too prepared.

Set a Budget for the Entire Influencer Marketing Strategy

Setting a quarterly budget for your influencer marketing campaigns will help you strategise where the money goes and leverage it for results.

Most brands – three-quarters – have a dedicated budget for their influencer marketing strategy. By the end of 2020, 82% planned to either increase their influencer marketing budget or keep it the same.

Influencer Marketing Hub

Prepare Specifics but Start Flexible When Messaging Influencers

If you’re just learning how to negotiate with influencers, you’ll want to prepare for everything but plan nothing. These are contract-style business relationships.

As contractors, influencers may like to hear more about why you want to work with them, your long-term goals, and brand values. Others might just glance at the contract and give you an answer immediately without elaborating.

Choose a Handful of Ideal Influencers for Each Objective

You never know how your first influencer negotiation will go so keep a shortlist of choices handy for each campaign goal.

Every campaign involves countless variables: products, compensation, usage rights, conflicts of interest, content, etc. Even if something seems promising, there aren’t any guarantees until the contract is signed.

Consider How to Negotiate with Different Types of Influencers

Nano influencers (under 10k followers) might not have any experience working with brands. Give them a positive first impression. Make sure they understand the details of a contract like this too.

As you move up the follower count ladder, more influencers will have a grasp of what they expect. Sometimes that’s a good thing because it provides direction. Other times, however, it’s restrictive or incompatible.

Plan Your Types of Influencer Content Before Messaging Influencers

Influencers will want to know what kind of content you had in mind right away:

  • Sponsored feed posts or stories
  • Product launch Q&A
  • Tutorials
  • Giveaways and contests
  • Product specs
  • Duration and frequency

Lay out your brand’s vision for the campaign and what you’re willing to compromise before you go into the negotiation. Your influencers need to add some personality too.


Strike a Strategic Balance for Exclusivity

You might cringe at the thought of an influencer promoting a competitor’s product but asking a contractor for total exclusivity is pretty unreasonable in most cases.

Luckily, exclusivity isn’t all-or-nothing. You can strike a balance with the influencer to find something that works. Just go in prepared with an idea of your brand’s red lines.

  • Territory
  • Platform
  • Timeframe
  • Right of first refusal
  • Third party

Prepare NDA Templates and Content Usage Agreements

Non-disclosure agreements (NDA) in this case cover discrete details like compensation, metrics, or any trade secrets – not whether the post was sponsored.

Don’t forget to consider the content rights either. Who owns the posts after the contract ends? Do you want to repurpose the posts and if so, for how long?

Again, don’t jump into the influencers’ DMs with a bunch of restrictions. Just know where your brand can’t budge and what’s negotiable.

Think Short-Term Contracts with Long-Term Potential

You never know how the influencer marketing campaign and relationship dynamic will play out until it does. Go in with an open mind but take it slow with short-term contracts.

Let the influencer know at some point if you’re considering a long-term contract based on the results. Just be transparent. Don’t hint at long-term potential just to keep them away from competitors.

How to Negotiate with Influencers as a Brand Step by Step

As you learn how to negotiate with influencers as a brand, you’ll get comfortable with the process – including the uncertainties.

You can only learn so much about someone from their online presence. That’s why it’s so important to message influencers from a place of respect and preparation.

1. Set a Budget Range for the First Influencer

You should have a single influencer in mind right now to start the negotiation. Based on your influencer marketing strategy from above, you should also have an idea of your red lines for exclusivity, content, duration, and more.

Look at the influencer’s followers, engagement, and other brands they work with. How much are you willing to spend and what kind of ROI do you expect? Set a budget range and line up your bonuses like:

  • Travel expenses for the campaign
  • Products and merchandise
  • Event tickets and VIP passes
  • Commissions from sales
  • Whatever they seem to like

2. Check the Influencer’s Profile for Your Basic Questions

Seasoned influencers already know what your first questions will be so check their profile for a Linktree or directions for brands.

Even smaller influencers learn the value of displaying a media kit and rate card after their first few interactions. That’s what you want first. Their media kit and rate card should explain:

  • Flat rates for specific types of campaigns
  • Package rates for multi-content campaigns
  • Follower demographics and engagement metrics
  • Industry and creative experience
  • Style, voice, and values

Use this to compare your brand’s objectives, audience, and budget with the influencer. If you don’t see this info anywhere, look for their manager or talent agent.

3. Draft Your Influencer Proposal to Start the Negotiating Process

Based on your recon so far, you should be able to draft a custom influencer marketing proposal from your template. Be as specific as you can – especially with your red lines – but make it clear you’re open to negotiating.

Your initial proposal should include:

  • Anticipated duration
  • Number of posts
  • Your brand’s values and message
  • Ideal content formats
  • Product overview
  • Your investment
  • Compensation

For the part about your investment, let the influencer know whether you’ll have a team to create the content (like video, podcasts, images, etc.).

Influencers take their content seriously. Some may not want to work with an external film crew or production team. Others might cut you a deal if you take that burden off them. Either way, let them know.


4. Negotiate KPIs and Deliverables Based on Their Response

You submitted the first influencer marketing proposal and just got your response. They loved everything and now it’s time to talk specifics.

The first proposal should have covered your red lines so this one will map out the exact deliverables:

  • Post frequency and deadlines
  • Campaign types and content
  • Your message to drive home and CTA
  • KPIs and objectives you plan to reach
  • Exclusivity details and duration
  • Creative expectations

5. Set Clear Terms for the Contract and Usage Rights

If the influencer is happy with the detailed agreement, you can move forward with the NDA, contract terms, and usage rights. Otherwise, negotiate back and forth until you both agree on the details.

6. Clarify Your Long-Term Plans After the Contract Ends

Make sure your contract includes clear details on how the business relationship will end.

You’ll also want to include a clause detailing what situations would allow you to back out of the contract before it ends. This would include red lines like conflicts of interest, competitor relationships, or anything that violates the contract.

Start Drafting Your Internal Influencer Marketing Strategy Presentation

As with anything, but especially with influencers, internal alignment is key to success. Use an internal influencer marketing strategy presentation to map everything mentioned here. Everyone can visualise the campaigns come to life along with the risks and expectations.

Plus, your internal strategy presentation will keep your influencer campaign messaging consistent with the rest of your brand. Once you message influencers and close the contract, it’s smooth sailing.

Need eye-popping graphics, video, or other visual content to maximise your next influencer campaign? See what kind of creativity we bring to social media content.

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Chris Kubbernus

As CEO of Kubbco, Chris leads the company's vision and uses his 20 years of advertising experience to drive results for our clients.

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