Negotiating a Tug-of-War

Working BOTH sides of the table: A Brand and an Influencer

Definition of “Tug-of-war”:

  1. Firmly dig your feet into the ground when you pull.
  2. Use your arm muscles and leg muscles to pull as hard as possible.
  3. When told to ‘pull’, do so in unison.
  4. No one person, no matter how strong, can win a tug of war by themselves.

No. 4 on the list is what I would like everyone to focus on. “No ONE person can win a tug of war by themselves.” Work as a team or perish. In publisher development, ‘team’ is crucial in the process. What if we partner an  ideal Influencer to promote an ideal product to launch at the ideal moment, incentivize with a killer discount promotion and then release a sexy video which drives the consumer to a logo-emblazed landing page….for the ideal outcome – they BUY!

Does that sound like a great deal of work? Welcome to the world of Publisher Development. Don’t get me wrong I love my job yet there is a constant push-me-pull-you aspect to it. Why? Because in my heart, I can relate and respect both ends of this collaborative ‘rope’.


I admire this breed of Internet aficionado. One day they determine a niche. A very selective niche that they can write, review, photograph, and video about three, four or seven times a week. Consistently producing quality content to ensure they deliberately begin to gather an army of advocates. Trust is developed. Interest is desired so an Influencer must strive for more growth.


I admire manufacturers as well. They have strategized, budgeted, planned, revamped, launched and labored to seek out their ideal demographic in an attempt to secure the largest cut of the consumer pie. Brands must bend, adjust, give-and-take on all levels in order to unearth every last possible manner of surge for their bottom line. Dollars are at stake here so a brand must strive for more growth.

Notice a theme here?

So now you have two entities, each seeking to expand their territory for different reasons, sitting at the table staring each other down both having a firm grip on the rope, and someone yells: PULL! I run to one end of the rope.

Influencer: you are an unproven marketing gizmo. Let’s test you out so start with a creative 6-minute video, a website post, 2 Facebooks shout outs and 1 Instagram photo. Deep discount for a 30-day test. Does that work for you? (The tension in the rope lessens…slightly)

Run to the other end of the rope:

Brand: this Influencer’s reach is massive. They can do for you in 3 days what it would take an army of affiliates to do in 3 months. This Influencer has a high conversion rate potential. They fit your demographic. Does that work for you? (Tension dropping…slowly).

Influencer Team:

What brands have you worked with in the past? Did they come back to you? Do you have an exclusive with any manufacturer? What resonates best with your followers? How will the product be photograph? Do you feel a deep discount will be beneficial for your campaign? Are you satisfied with the terms? (Grip on the rope dramatically decreased)

Brand Team:

What do you determine a “success” for this campaign? 3x? 5x? Can you supply an attractive discount? Will you permit an Influencer landing page on your site? Are we only focusing on ONE product? The Influencer will join the Network in order to monitor traffic and sales. FTC regulations will be adhered to by clear and bold text stating a “sponsored post” terminology. Are you satisfied with the terms. (Rope dangles ever so loosely about to fall….)

I realize I’ve left a crucial component out of all this negotiation “run around”: The cost of an Influencer campaign. But I prefer to hone in on the value of this collaboration for both parties without having to bring money into the conversation till the very end. As I stated at the beginning: both the Influencer and the Brand is striving for growth. I need to keep them focused on THAT prize. Where will both of you be if we drop the rope, work together and market the hell out of this product. To me that sounds like a Win-Win.

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