Negotiation Tips & Addressing Engagement Pods – Episode 12

Last updated on
April 13, 2022
James Nord

Today’s episode covers tips for negotiation and pitching new clients. James also addresses engagement pods and their role in influencer marketing. You can submit your questions here.

This episode includes:

  • Answering a Viewer Question on Negotiation Tips
  • Finding Your Happy Price
  • Cost Factors
  • Engagement Pods

Welcome to Episode 12

James Nord: Hello, welcome episode 12 of Negronis with Nord. Coming to you live from New York in what feels like a never ending winter. It is been cold all, but like I think three days and it's looking like it's going to continue to be shitty in New York. This is the penance that we have to pay for I guess not living in LA or Miami. I'm going to Miami on Thursday. I might come back a Bitcoin influencer. I might just be talking about blockchain and Bitcoin and I'll be putting red lasers coming out of my eyes in my Twitter profile. Watch out. We'll see how it goes. It was just the Grammys, which I don't watch. But I was pleased that my girl, Olivia won a bunch of awards. Deja Vu is, as we've talked about on this show before, a unbelievable banger. My favorite Olivia Rodrigo song is Deja Vu. Appreciate that she won something.

Tips for Negotiation

James: Now there was a question somebody asks, "I'd love some tips on positioning yourself when talking to brands and standing your ground when negotiating, are there any best practices on communicating your value to brands?" So negotiation, I think we've talked about this again in past episodes, but negotiation, another thing that actually is pretty simple. I find it interesting that, I mean, how many books have been written about negotiation and everyone thinks of it as this really complex. It's almost like war, right? It's like I got to read Machiavelli or something, to be able to understand how to negotiate effectively.

Ultimately negotiation comes down to a few things. First I find negotiation like when I'm negotiating, there is generally a person or entity that has more power than the other. You have to understand where you are in the power balance to understand how far you can push the negotiation. When I was negotiating for this office space, right, I had been looking for offices for months. I hadn't found anything I liked. I found this space. It was in really, really bad shape. The building was not in great shape. There was a lot of things that were wrong about it, but it was really big. It was significantly better like layout than any other space I had seen. And it was half or less of the cost of other spaces I'd seen. When it came to negotiating, I didn't have a lot of power. They knew that they had an asset that was probably underpriced and that they knew that they could fill it.

I luckily had found it before it came on the market, but they knew that they were going to rent it pretty quickly at the price that they were offering it. I needed to find an office and build it out for the team in the next eight weeks. So I didn't have a lot of time. I was fucked. I really had no ground to stand on. Right. And so I kind of gave my best offer. I pushed a little bit, but ultimately I was not willing to walk away and I didn't have any other options and I didn't really have any power. So I just kind of had to push a little bit, to get a little bit better deal. But then I knew I had to say yes, right? And there's been times I've been on the other side of the negotiation where I felt like I didn't really care that much if the deal happened because, editor's note here, apologize for the relentless Jack hammering of Allen Street.

This has been the last week of my life. I've been hearing this, so you're just going to have to grin and bear it. There have been times when I've been on the other side of the negotiation and I've had the power and I've felt like I could walk away and it is much easier to push. And so that is the first part of negotiating I think is honestly understanding where you are in the power balance and where you are kind of philosophically in this negotiation. If it is a deal you really, really, really, really want to happen, you have less of an ability to walk away from that, right? If it's something where it's a brand that maybe you're not that excited about, you already have a busy month of sponsored posts. So you'd have to squeeze this one in.

Let's say you usually charge $1,000 and you say, you know what, I'm going to say 3000 for this one because like, I don't really want to do it. But if I got 3000, I would be happy. A lot different than if it's your dream brand and you feel like this opportunity is going to open up a lot of other opportunities. You're going to like negotiate a lot less vigorously for that. And I think it comes down to that idea of like finding a price that you're happy with. Try and actually put yourself into that moment when you are hitting, publish on the post and ask yourself how much money you feel like you would need to make to be happy and have that be the line. Start a little bit above there, but know what that price is going to be.

Cost factors to consider

Outside of that, there's obviously a lot of factors when you're thinking about positioning yourself for a brand and optimizing the amount of money that you can get.

Obviously you want to consider the production time. How long is it going to take you to create the content. If you're doing a TikTok with 15 different looks, that's a lot longer than a flat lay photo for a beauty brand, right? You have to consider that. Obviously you need to consider your following. You need to consider brand fit. How excited are you about the brand? How much does the brand fit into what you're doing and your personal brand? My suggestion would be if a brand is not a good fit for your audience, there's no amount of money you should take to do that because you're going to break trust with your audience. That trust with your audience is the asset that you are trading for money. And so if you damage that irreparably, eventually you will not be able to extract any more value out of it. The goose that laid the golden egg fable, right?

Farmer finds a goose, lays a golden egg and eventually kills the goose and tries to get the golden eggs inside and there's nothing. And now he's kind of killed it. That following, that connection to them, the trust they have in you is your golden goose. So you do not want to destroy that. You also need to think about, did they reach out to you or did you reach out to them? Right. If a brand reaches out to you and they say, I really want to work with you, you are in a position of power. Out of the 30 million influencers, out of the 1.3 billion accounts on Instagram, the billion accounts on TikTok, they have found you, they've reached out to you. They want to work with you. That puts you in a position of power, more than if you are pitching a brand. Right.

And you go to them and say, Hey, I'd like to work with you. So you have to consider that. And you also have to think about how scarce is what you do. And are you explaining that effectively. If like DonYe, who was on the show last week, who works here, DonYe has a story that is bigger than her following, and she should be paid for that, right? Because while creators and influencers as a group are rare, they're not as rare as influencers or creators who also have started a business. And even more rare is influencers or creators who run a business and who have a corporate job and have been successful in that space. Right. And so in that case, what DonYe does is quite scarce. And so she can use that scarcity to negotiate for higher pay.

And again, that can be anything. That's where storytelling comes in. Do you shoot film? Are you doing something different than your peers? You need to figure out how to tell that story. Ideally, in a negotiation, it shouldn't be this tense thing where one party feels like they win and one party feels like they lose, right? Ideally you are telling a story so compelling that the other side of that negotiation is excited to pay that and understands why they should. It is a misconception that in a negotiation, one party should feel good and one should feel bad. That is a poorly run negotiation. We need to get out of this 80s mindset, which I feel like it was like an 80s corporate thing of like negotiation is a battle between two groups where one group is victorious and the other is a loser.

Ideally, all sides feel good. You go back to our retention episode. Retention is key. The point is not extracting as much money as you can out of that brand in that first campaign. It is working with them for years. Let's say you do the 2000 instead of 4,000. And now instead of one campaign, you have 10 over the next two years. Okay. So now you've made $20,000 instead of $4,000. Which one's better, right? Like it's pretty obvious and easy.

Engagement Pods

We're going to do a little bit of myth busting as well. There was a comment on episode 10 when we were talking about benchmarking around engagement rate for influencers, for people with under 10,000 followers. And somebody said that they felt that the engagement pods had skewed the data significantly. One, feels like a bit of a throwback. Engagement pods were a big topic of conversation four or five years ago, but we haven't heard about them much recently. For those of you who don't know, they do still exist.

A bunch of people get together on a DM. You drop your post in. Everybody goes and likes and comments. And the expectation is you like and comment on all of the posts that get dropped in there. And everybody likes and comments your posts when you drop them in there. It is decently common. Even if it's not a organized thing, we definitely see it in the influencer space. I get support the homies. I like understand you got to like support your friends and you want those positive comments in the caption. Even better if the comments are about the product and are showing an intent to buy, right? Because that's going to make the influencer look good. The other side of that coin is how stupid do you think the brand is? Let's say, you're like, oh my gosh, these shoes look amazing.

I'm buying these right now. Right. And then they go to your profile and you have like 250,000 followers. And like half your photos are with that influencer who posted that, that you commented on. Like it isn't actually fooling everyone. So support the homies is a noble cause. Putting fake, overly positive sentiment into the caption to try and make homie look better to the brand I think ends up making them look worse. So I would not do that. And I would encourage your friends not to do that. Because again, it's pretty easy to see through. Comment with your Finsta that has like 100 followers or something and no posts. Don't comment with your main account. When we're looking at the data that we shared in the benchmarking episode, that is taking engagement rates from tens of thousands, over a 100,000 influencers.

So, even if five or 10% of those influencers were in an engagement pod, it's not going to skew the data enough to change the outcome. There's just too many people in there. The reason engagement rates are so much higher for accounts, less than 10,000 people are one, those followings are generally much closer to that person, right? And so they're like more likely to engage. The other thing is just the way Instagram builds their algorithm, right? They definitely are looking at people who are doing this as a living, such as influencers like yourself and let it's called them "normies" in a different way. Right. So for normal people, they want to make sure that normal people are seeing posts from the people that they follow, that their posts are being seen. They want that platform to work much more one to one.

Now, as you become an influencer and you get tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of followers, that following is less engaged. It's older sometimes, right? Like those people might have followed you seven years ago. They might not even log into the platform anymore. Your engagement is lower, but also again, the algorithm works in a different way and Instagram's going to make you work a little bit harder for it, right? They are relying more on engagement and commenting and watching stories to see who they're feeding that content to. For the people that aren't doing this as a profession, they want to use it as a communication tool. They don't want to block that. Right.

And to circle back on engagement by pods, there was a lot of anger about these back in the day. I think something that was true then and is true now is that you aren't going to be able to like hack your way into success. Philosophically, the more important thing is that the only path to being successful on any of these platforms is creating, engaging content that people want to see, want to engage with, cultivating and retaining a community, and continuing to provide them value every day. That is it. If it's so simple, why do you get on this show every week and ramble on about how we can do it better? It is because this satisfies my ego while simple, something's bare repeating over and over and over again.

So if you are focused on how competitors, colleagues might be using engagement pods or nefarious techniques to boost engagement, or grow their following, I think you're focused on the wrong things. And you should just really focus on creating content that people want to engage with.

Look, if you have any more questions about negotiation, one, just like ask, throw them in the comments. I can dive into this more. I know it is a place where a lot of people feel uncomfortable and honestly, I could do 10 episodes on this stuff. We are also having a webinar at the end of the month, all about pricing. Got some great guests joining us, and we're going to dive into what the pricing landscape is, what drives pricing, what can move it, what makes it up, what you should be thinking about as an influencer and what brands should be thinking about.

James Nord:So make sure that you register for that. Follow our social. You will see us announce it there and share the invite link when that goes live. And with that, thank you. And we will see you next week.

Cheers, and thanks for watching.

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