Don’t Forget: Marketing is a Negotiation Process



There is still something to be said for the power of a handshake and a mutual understand based on compromise. When you factor in pressure to recoup losses from disappointing economic trends, it’s easy to forget that marketing isn’t just about throwing together a fantastic ad campaign and hoping for the best. Marketing often involves some serious negotiating and compromising to come up with a marketing strategy that produces a happy medium between you and your clients.

Balancing Value and Results

A marketing expert may understand the complexities of today’s challenging marketing world. However, a client may not fully grasp what it takes to come up with a successful strategy that fits within their budget. These inherent differences are only intensified when all considerations are placed on the table. It’s important to set guidelines on both ends and work to see a balance of value and results that will make all parties happy. Keep in mind that:

• It is counterproductive to get too attached to an early idea
• The best marketing ideas aren’t always the most cost effective strategies
• Half the battle is won by how ideas and strategies are presented to the client

The Art of Negotiation

Before you dive into the negotiating process, you need to know what you are negotiating for and with whom you are negotiating. Every client has some points they won’t compromise on regardless of how persuasive you are. Find out what these points are ahead of time to save time and prevent unnecessary frustration. There are certain basic protocols that are likely to produce successful negotiations:

• Know the major players involved with the negotiations
• Know the major issues involved with the negotiations
• Do your research and come prepared with easily digestible facts to support your points

Understanding Context

“Context” doesn’t just mean what is being negotiated in terms of content. In this sense, content refers such factors as the other party’s education and culture. Japanese people, for instance, tend to take a different approach to the negotiating process than Americans or Britons do. You also want to consider such factors as age, gender, and personality traits. Your negotiating tactics are going to be different when facing someone with a reputation for being firm than they would be when facing someone known for being open to compromise.

Know the Parties Involved

Before you start the negotiating process, it helps to know who you will or may be dealing with during the course of the negotiations. Negotiators can quickly be called away or replaced for one reason or another. The replacement negotiator may not have the same set of priorities as the previous negotiator. This can easily complicate the process and undo progress that had been made. Do a little homework and find out ahead of time all the parties that may be involved in the negotiating process. This gives you time to do more prep work on your end.

Final Preparations

Before you sit down at the table, you want to make sure you are armed with as much background information as possible. Understanding the elements that are at play and what points are negotiable places you in a position of power. This allows you to stand your ground on issues you’re not really willing to compromise on without letting the other party know that fact. You also want to know who needs to sign off on a negotiated deal before it becomes official on both ends. Being prepared also means being prepared to walk away when it’s clear that a realistic deal won’t be reached. Your final preparation process should take into consideration the following factors:

• The potential for repeat business with the other party
• Any previous agreements or deals still in effect
• Any previous negotiations and the outcomes

The negotiation process isn’t just about sticking to your guns or giving in to just go get a deal signed. Inform the other party that you have the option to walk away from negotiations that aren’t going anywhere. A famous song once declared that “you have to know when to hold ‘em, you have to know when to fold ‘em, and know when to walk away.” These are definitely words to keep in mind when preparing for the negotiation process.

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