Imagine this: you at your computer. Checking email. There it is. An email from a brand asking you to do… something.
Either it’s a blog post or a blog post with product review or a social campaign to increase brand awareness.
Yep, it’s there. In your inbox. Taunting you.
And there you are, staring at it… feeling your gut get all tight, knowing a reply is necessary, but also knowing one wrong word and the brand will go away… and take their offer with them! And you, you’ll be left sweating, sighing, wondering what you could have done better.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if you knew the 7 Negotiation Skills Experts Use Every Day? Skills folks have learned from years of experience?
It doesn’t matter whether the brand offer is paid or free–what matters is the request. The offer. What is the brand offering YOU to market their stuff? That’s the key. Let’s look at how to negotiate that offer, to your advantage.
- Lose the ego. It’s not about you, nice person that you are. It’s not about whether or not you showered this morning. It’s not about what your friends will think. It’s about the offer. Think Joe Friday and his famous saying, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Regardless of the fact that he never said that, it’s a good phrase to be acquainted with because that’s where you start. With facts. The facts about you and your experience (it’s not about how famous or smart or talented you are as written in your resume; it’s about how famous, smart, and talented you are to Google… big difference), about your blog and its experience (yes, you need to cite pageviews and unique visits. Don’t know what those are? Find out.) and about the results the brand will expect from working with you. How do you create this ‘fact filled’ content? Here’s a great example to use… follow her lead.
- Know the brand. Don’t just ‘recognize’ the brand. We are all familiar with the big names, and when a big name comes calling, we want to at least consider their offer. The problem is: Who is making the offer and why? If you don’t know the answer to who and why, you cannot negotiate effectively. Each person at the brand, regardless of what brand it is, big or small, has an agenda. They think you can help them achieve the agenda. Maybe you can. But, until you understand the agenda and a little bit about the person asking, you will not know if you’re the answer to their problem. If they want reach, are you equipped to deliver reach? If they want brand recognition, can you deliver on that? Once you know the person (some folks are kind and easy to work with, others… not so much!), and you understand the problem, because every request is a request to solve a problem–understand that and you are miles ahead of your competition–you can begin to approach the solution from your end. The solution, by the way, is not attached to YOU the person. Refer to negotiation skill #1.
- Smile, but don’t spill the candy in the lobby. Entrepreneur says, “…do not disclose your budget or other limitations in your negotiating position.” This means, do not disclose your final price. In a negotiation, you offer something, your prospect counters, and you decide whether to counter back or accept. KNOW what you need to end up with, not what the brand wants you to end up with! If you stated on your site that you are a $500 per post blogger, but you know your number for this gig, something you learned by doing negotiation tip #2, is $200, don’t say so until you are ready to sign on the dotted line.
- Be bold. Be courageous. Be true. You will not get what you do not ask for. I know some of you read the line above about being a $500 blogger with trepidation. “Not me,” you whispered to yourself. “No one would ever pay me that much for one blog post.” Hogwash! You get what you ask for. Ask for the darn moon! All right, more seriously, asking for more than you expect or need, is necessary to get what you need or expect, sometimes. By setting your sights high, you add value to your work, and give the brand a starting point. It’s easier to come down in price than to go up. Just saying…
- Know what your pricing stands for. This goes back to your pageviews and unique visitors and your social reach via your social channels. But, not every pageview or visitor is the same…are they? Random people who land on your blog and glance at the pictures are not the same as Judy, your regular daily visitor who comments on every post. And, Judy is not the same as the excellent Andrea Arden, who found your blog a few weeks ago and likes to come by to leave a comment once a week. Perhaps Judy will rise to Andrea’s level of value some day, but for now, Andrea Arden trumps Judy. By studying your stats and understanding your audience, you can talk intelligently about your value, which should be reflected in your pricing. It’s not all about what you want. It’s all about what you can achieve for the brand. If you don’t know how to answer that question, how do you expect the brand to trust your numbers?
- Understand what ‘free’ means. Understand that sometimes, free is too expensive. We all do free now and then. If there’s a shelter you want to support and you agree to do free content for them, I will not argue with you. If you have a connection to a new business venture and are willing to cover them for free, that’s your choice. If a brand with a budget comes to call (if they took the time to find you, they have a budget…however small, it’s still a budget), and they offer a link exchange because you’ll get tons of new traffic from them if you do this one little thing… understand what you are giving away. You are giving away the results of tip #4. Only you can make that choice, but… what will it cost YOU?
- Never accept defeat. Let me rephrase that… never give up. Losing a gig is not a defeat. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. Every gig you lose or refuse, is another experience that will teach you how to do better tomorrow. Learn from your tears. Never say never… do the Oprah thing, “What was I supposed to learn from this?” As you grow and improve, the brands approaching you will see you mean business and your ability to negotiate with them will improve until they come to you and you say, “It’s $500, and sharing on social media is an extra $100,” and they don’t even blink before replying, “That’s great. Let’s get started.”
You can do it. It’s not easy but it’s a learning curve you must get beyond. Start with #1 – that will propel you into the rest of the tips. By the way, experts do this every day. I wasn’t lying about that.
Of course, you can always work with BlogPaws, who will do the negotiating for you.
Yvonne DiVita is a Co-Founder of BlogPaws. She is dedicated to storytelling and the human-animal bond. When not working on BlogPaws, she writes at Scratchings and Sniffings and The Lipsticking Society. You may contact her at Yvonne@blogpaws.com .