Lilian Raji is a strategic communications and PR adviser who helps companies understand their marketing problems, then designs and executes strategies to solve them.
Hello readers,

As a quick reminder, we’re exploring influencer marketing for the next few columns.

Those who tuned in for my webinar, “Harnessing the Power of Social Media Influencers,” have sent in many questions, and you know how much I love questions! For those who missed it, you can catch the webinar replay on my website.

Now, on to the second part of my answer to last month’s question.

Q. Dear Lilian,

How can I find a valuable micro-influencer and woo them in my small community?

Where Do I Begin?

A: When we last left off, you were making a list of who’s hot and who’s not from your Instagram followers, your competitors’ followers, your best customers and all the social butterflies preening in your local magazines.

If you’ve started contacting them, you’ve probably discovered there are some influencers you’d rather not deal with.

Case in point: I once executed an influencer event where we brought eight social media stars to my client’s headquarters for a fun-filled weekend. We flew them in from all over the United States, put each in her or his own luxury hotel room, and paid for every meal, Lyft, taxi ride and airline baggage fee.

Generous, yes?

I began by vetting 250 influencers until I arrived at the final eight. My experiences narrowing down this list taught me to freely embrace the word “no”—sometimes prefaced with an expletive, other times followed by, “Are you &%$^# kidding me?”

I’ll need a Glenlivet 21 Year, neat, before I can calmly tell you what happened with the other 242 candidates. But since I’m amongst friends, I’ll share the most outrageous discussion.

One influencer sent his agent to negotiate with me. Yes, an agent. Let me clarify he wasn’t a Kardashian, nor did his name even begin with a K.

The agent immediately demanded first-class tickets for both the influencer and some random friend. She wanted money for him to spend however he liked and assurances he wouldn’t have to post about the visit on his social platforms or stay with our group the entire time, although we’d still have to pay for a luxury hotel room.

If you’re wondering about my response, please refer back to the last few words in the paragraph that starts with “I began by …”

The agent’s final offer to me after I withdrew the invitation was for the influencer to fly basic economy by himself, stay in any hotel, and participate in all events and brag about it on his social profiles.

My final response? @#&%$ no!
The best influencers understand this is business and provide measurable returns to justify their demands. The rest believe they deserve money by virtue of just existing.
This is why you start with a large list. You’re going to get people who not only ask for the world, but also demand Venus and Jupiter be thrown in. When you have other options, you can always respond in the words of Ralph Kramden: “Bang, zoom, to the moon!”

I was asked during the webinar what to do when your chosen influencer doesn’t respond.

If you take nothing else from this article, please remember you always have other options. What one influencer won’t do, another will, and there are currently a lot of influencers to go around.

It’s your company, your brand, your investment. Only work with those who immediately understand this will be a partnership, where both sides are gaining something from working together.

Before you begin negotiations, do yourself a favor and download the free Influencer Marketing Toolkit from my website. You’ll find worksheets to help outline your entire influencer marketing strategy.

Now, when it comes to compensating micro-influencers, know that compensation doesn’t necessarily mean cash.

Whenever I go into any negotiation, I already have an idea of what I’ll accept. However, I let the other party lead the conversation. You never know if they’re going to suggest something less than your planned offer. Let the influencer first propose how they see you two working together.

If they want money, don’t hesitate to ask how they’ll show a return on your investment. Ask for quantifiable evidence that their past financial arrangements generated store or website traffic, increased sales or some other parameters you’ve outlined in the worksheets.

Those who can provide this information deserve whatever payment you negotiate. For those who can’t, find a non-cash alternative.

The best influencers understand this is business and provide measurable returns to justify their demands. The rest believe they deserve money by virtue of just existing.

A non-cash alternative could be allowing the influencer access to your inventory to borrow pieces for major events in exchange for tagging you on her or his posts. With this access, the influencer feels superior to her or his followers, and you’ll get ongoing shout-outs across her or his platforms.

I direct you again to my Influencer Marketing Toolkit, where you’ll find a sample contract to iron out details of the partnership.

While I’ve watched many hours of “Suits,” “Ally McBeal,” “The Practice,” “Damages,” “Better Call Saul,” “Perry Mason” and “Matlock,” remember I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. Make sure your attorney reviews the sample contract and amends it accordingly.

Now, my dear friends, back to your regularly scheduled Vegas planning.

If you have some more time, or if your sanity is dependent upon not filling out one more FedEx label right now, check out my past column on preparing for Vegas. Make the PR Adviser proud and maximize every opportunity to promote your business.

I’m sitting out Vegas this year, but I’ll be with you in spirit. And I’ll be back here next month to answer another webinar question, “How can I turn my staff into influencers?”

In the meantime, if you have your own pressing PR, marketing or social media questions, send ‘em my way!

I wish you all a prosperous show.

Lilian Raji is a strategic communications and PR adviser who helps companies understand their marketing problems, then designs and executes strategies to solve them. Learn more at Submit questions for Lilian to answer here and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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