The Marketer’s Guide to Negotiation


Marketers will not be able to avoid negotiations during their career. And neither should we try to.

There will come many times when having a solid understand of negotiation techniques will serve us well. Whether we are negotiating for a raise or promotion in our professional careers, negotiating advertisement rates or contract terms with partners, or pushing a business case or new campaign on our own executives, negotiating is a part of the job.

So how can you make the most of these conversations? You can learn the do’s and don’ts of good negotiation from the masters who have been in these situations before.


Effective negotiators never go into a negotiation blind. They don’t have an innate ability and simply wing it.

They have a well-thought out plan, based on careful preparation. They have analyzed the details of the negotiation and have identified the factors at play. Where are the opportunities? What are the risks? What is the best possible outcome?

The old cliché holds – if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.


They teach you in acting class to listen to your fellow actors in a scene, rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak. The same can be said for more effective negotiating. It is critical that you listen to what the other party is saying so that you can figure out exactly what they want, and respond in kind.

It may be that what you expected them to say was way off. They may be more interested in a certain subject than you anticipated. You need to be able to change course if the talking points shift. And the only way to do that is to listen and react.

Don’t Get Emotional

Emotions have a funny way of creeping up in negotiations of all stripes. And in most cases, they disrupt rather than support the goals of both parties.

A successful negotiation is professional and courteous. If you get emotional, you will have a tendency to stray from your plan. Use logic and keep calm for the best possible outcomes.

Be Prepared to Give Something Up

If you are truly negotiating, you may not get everything you want. So it is important to know what areas you are willing to give in to the other party.

If you are negotiating a contract, determine which terms are the most important to you, and look for areas where you can compromise. You want to make the other party feel like they are getting something out of the deal too.

It’s Okay to Say No

Not all negotiations will get you what you’re looking for. And often, it takes more than one conversation to get there. For that reason, you have to be willing to walk away.

Know what your alternatives to a deal are. Are there other ways to get what you want? Do you have a plan B?

If a particular negotiation takes place over time, spanning several different conversations, or several different groups of people on the other side, make sure you stay consistent and clearly state your desired outcomes with each conversation.


In a perfect world, we would get everything we want every time we want it. Sadly, this is not a perfect world. And so we need to be willing to negotiate.

The best negotiators got to be that way through practice and preparation. The easiest way to improve your negotiating skills is to study the skills and habits of successful negotiators and incorporate them into your own processes.

The Marketer’s Guide to Subtlety


Generally speaking, marketers are not good at being subtle. Subtlety does not always work its way into marketing. And when it does, it is often so subtle that it goes unnoticed and, therefore, underappreciated.

But when marketers know how to use subtlety to their advantage, it can produce powerful results.

Not Subtle

When we think of traditional marketing tactics, it becomes obvious how in your face marketers can be. Consider coupons, sales stickers, loud commercials, scantily clad models, professional spokespeople, and billboards on the side of the road. The list goes on and on. The aim is to capture your full attention away from whatever it is you are doing. And most companies have become very, very good at it.

But that, in itself, is part of the problem. We’ve become so good, as marketers, at getting your attention, that we have turned consumers off of marketing tactics left and right. Now consumers know when they’re being marketed to, and they don’t care for it.

That is where subtlety comes in.


There are tools that marketers have in their toolbox that too often go unused.

Consumers are people. And people are predictable. There are ways to craft your messaging or present your offers that will trigger them to act in a certain way. But in order for these tactics to be effective, you have to be confident enough to let them speak for themselves. The minute you try to hit people over the head with your marketing, you’ll turn them off.

The goal is to create marketing that does not feel like marketing at all.

Content fits nicely into this bucket. Content marketing caught in over the last five years or so because it was a way to generate brand awareness that also provided real value to consumers. By teaching them something, or sharing something interesting, you are engaging with your audience in a way that does not feel like you’re trying to sell to them.

Companies today are looking for all the different ways they can accomplish this. Hence the interest in areas like sponsorships, events and experiences, product placement and brand integration, influencer marketing, and more.

The more marketers are able to capture the attention of consumers in subtle ways, the more powerful our marketing actually becomes.

Spread the Marketing Word in Your Organization

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To build a brand that consistently succeeds in reaching and converting new customers, one that outperforms competitors and grows its market share, marketers need the help of everyone in the organization.

They need a crack product team that can create something that truly wows customers. They need an A+ customer service team that solves all issues as they come up with smiles on their faces. They need an adaptive technology team that uses data to continually improve processes through the company.

Marketing can be the lifeblood of a successful organization. It can permeate all departments, helping to communicate the mission, relating the stories of satisfied customers and how the company is impacting the lives of others.

To do this requires a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. It requires an ability to openly communicate with different departments, with people at all levels of the organization. It requires a deep understanding of the big picture, how all the parts fit together to create an effective, efficient company.

You can use company-wide meetings, an internal social network or forum, a regular newsletter, or onsite classes to spread the word and connect everyone to the marketing message.

Zach Heller Marketing Week in Review


There exists a constant back and forth among marketers – some arguing for frequent change in campaigns, imagery, taglines, etc. and others arguing for consistency. They are both right, in some respects. And both are wrong in others. To build a brand, consistency is key, but not if whatever you are using is not working. Brands should be willing to test their way into changes that are more effective without sacrificing the core elements that make the brand, the brand.

Here are last week’s posts, in case you missed them:

  1. Ethical Questions for Marketers – Series Recap
  2. Top Conversion Rate Optimization Tips
  3. Where to Focus: Strengths or Weaknesses

Happy Saturday!

Two Ways to Boost Your Marketing Knowledge:

  1. Subscribe to the blog and never miss another marketing post
  2. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter to get a curated list of the top marketing articles from around the web

Zach Heller Marketing Week in Review


Sometimes a marketer or marketing team will take on projects that might seem, at first blush, to be outside the purview of marketing. But if you consider the job of marketing to grow the revenue per dollar of advertising, then anything that adds revenue is a job for marketing. For that reason, many companies are focusing more now than ever before on customer loyalty and retention, and putting the strategy and projects associated with that theme under marketing’s control. If you know a way you can add revenue at your company, speak up.

Here are last week’s posts, in case you missed them:

  1. Ethical Questions for Marketers – Part 11
  2. The Magic of 1-Question Surveys
  3. What’s the Deal with Influencer Marketing

Happy Saturday!

Two Ways to Boost Your Marketing Knowledge:

  1. Subscribe to the blog and never miss another marketing post
  2. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter to get a curated list of the top marketing articles from around the web