Today we’re going to discuss how to negotiate a trial period with any MCN (multi-channel network), brand manager, digital advertiser or influencer marketing company. Why can I speak about all of these companies in a single post? It’s because, most often, these are either all-different names for the same type of company or because the same legal issues arise in all of these contracts. The key fundamental issue I’m going to be stressing today is how to negotiate an agreement that allows you to remain in the driver’s seat. How you can test out these MCNs, managers and advertisers while not being locked into long term contract or paying for non-services.
This post asks you to focus on only four (4) main pointers. Four pointers that you need in order to effectively negotiate with any MCN, manager or advertiser. The other week, I had a discussion with a YouTuber client. I had just reviewed an agreement he was presented with by a large and established MCN. When it became clear that the contract the MCN provided cannot possibly work in my client’s favor, I came up with several points to help him in negotiating a reasonable agreement.
POINT 1. You’re the Driver.
It's important that we keep one thing in mind. These MCNs, brand managers and influencer marketing companies ... THEY WANT YOU. They need you. Without you, they cannot make any money. They profit by taking a percentage of your revenue. So that means that you are, or at least should be, in the driver’s seat. You should be controlling any negotiation. You should be interviewing them to see if they are right for you. Not the other way around.
Too many budding YouTubers and online influencers believe that they need MCNs, brand managers and marketing companies to grow. They believe that the exposure provided by such companies will help build an audience. As a result, many YouTubers are reluctant to negotiate. Many feel, wrongly, that they are speaking with large, established organizations that know what they are doing. After all, if these companies handle hundred or thousands of other YouTubers, who are you to question their motives or their contract?
But that’s the point. Too many YouTubers do not question theMCNs, brand managers and influencer marketing companies. Too many do not negotiate contracts. Too many just accept what MCNs tell them. Always remember that, while the MCNs and management companies do not want you to know, you're in control, you're the desired asset and you should drive the negotiation.
POINT 2. MCNs, Brand Managers and Marketing Companies Must Prove Themselves To You.
Yes. Demand that all MCNs, Brand Managers and Marketing Companies prove themselves to you. They’re coming to you because they know how many subscribers you have. They know how many views you’re getting on average each day. They know that they can make money off of your content. But do you know if they can make you money? Do you know if the benefits associated with joining this MCN will outweigh the cost to you? Do you know if they will be cooperative if you ever decide to leave or sign with a competitor? The answer, more often then not, is that you don‘t know. You have expectations. You have hope. But you don’t know. But there is a way for you to learn all of this before you commit to a long-term contract.
POINT 3. Negotiate a Trial Period.
Ask all MCNs, Brand Managers and Marketing Companies for a 6-month trial period. Tell that MCN that you’ll be willing to negotiate a final, long term contract in line with their demands, but only after you test them out for no more than 6-months. The trial period contract you ask for will have the ability to terminate at anytime, for any reason, upon a 3-day notice. That means that you are testing these companies out for no more than six months. See if you like them. See if they are working for you. See if you’re making any money or gaining any subscribers. See if they are answering your emails or calls after you sign the agreement. If you’re happy, great. You’ll happily negotiate a long-term agreement. If not, then you’ll cancel. Give them a simple notice of termination (by email) and three days later the contract will be cancelled.
POINT 4. Demand Cooperation When Terminated.
Which brings us to one critical demand. Your trial contract will require that upon receipt of termination, the MCN, Brand Manager or Marketing Company will be obligated to cooperate with you and properly handle all YouTube inquiries and requests to remove MCN access from your channel. The MCN must agree to move quickly and to remove access if you file a request with YouTube. That should be simple.
That’s it. Four simple points to focus on to get a trial period agreement with an MCN. Any organization that will not let you test them out. Run. Anyone that tells you that everyone else is signing the standard agreement, Run. Anyone who tells you that short contracts with quick termination will cost them too much money, Run. You’re in the driver’s seat. Control your experience by demanding to try out the networks.