All contracts, including a marketing contract, are legally binding. No matter how casual they appear, the parties whose signatures and names are on this document need to respect everything it says. You cannot walk away from or break a contract no matter how informal it appears because you suddenly disagree with whatever is written on it. Instead, you must respect the content. It is good to take all the time you need to review the contract. Check that you understand everything it stipulates.
It is good for you to know how to negotiate a contract.
Contract negotiation is an important skill to learn once you decide to establish a business. You also need to enhance this skill the moment you deem it fit to hire a marketing firm to increase the awareness of the brand you run. Furthermore, marketers also need to know everything they can regarding contract negotiation. In this article, the focus will be on what marketers can do to negotiate a contract like a boss. Marketers must agree on and sign a contract before they even start thinking about letting their creative juices to flow.
A contract should include the following features:
The marketing contract must state the services the marketer will provide. The clause listing or describing the services to be rendered must be detailed, clear, and accessible. Do not forget to include information on the strategies you intend to use too. The creative concepts you will be applying while extending your professional marketing services to the clients need inclusion in the contract too. The contract needs a clear description of the relevant key deliverables and plans you wish to employ too.
Without the appropriate timelines, important events and dates the clause will be incomplete.
The processes available to clients who feel that a concept needs changing can use to voice their concerns also need a bit of explaining. Failure to offer solutions for resolving disputes or voicing concerns can come back to haunt you in case the client feels confident enough about a mistake you committed to taking you to court. Feel the contract with as much relevant information as possible to forestall the likelihood of misunderstandings. Include clauses that help your clients to measure the progress of the campaign.
The purpose of offering marketing services is to help your clients achieve their goals. Obviously, you will not be offering these services at no cost. Instead, you want the clients to pay you if they find your work to their satisfaction. Therefore, the marketing contract you sign with your clients has to indicate the payment terms. It has to state that you will be offering the services at a cost. Include the money you expect the client to pay you in the contract. Talk about the payment terms too.
Do not forget to include the actual amount you expect the client to pay you before, during, or after the project. Do not forget to include a clause stating when you expect the client to pay you. The regularity by which clients pay you should also appear on the contract. You could ask for monthly fees or inform the client you expect the whole amount paid once you finish the project. Being specific with these matters helps to inform clients about their obligations in this whole arrangement.
The most important dates in a marketing campaign are the dates showing when the project kicks off and ends. However, any other date you consider important to the project should also be clearly seen on the contract. For example, let the contract talk about dates when you should have met certain milestones. What about dates when clients should make payments? Yes, they too should appear on the contract. Indicate the dates on the right places where anyone can see them without any hindrance.
Does your marketing contract deal with the issue of exclusivity? If not, ensure that it does. If you want to be the only marketer serving your client, do not hesitate to clarify this on the contract. Let the clients know that you will provide exclusive marketing services to them. Many times, you will come across clients who prefer non-exclusive agreements. Again, you can talk with them to explain why you prefer an exclusive arrangement. The contract should feature the points or clauses the two of you have agreed on.
It is good for marketers to do whatever it takes to limit their liability. On the other hand, clients want marketers to bear as much liability as possible – if not all. The contract you sign has to elaborate this issue clearly for everybody’s understanding. It should indicate to whom the liability will be apportioned. For example, who takes the blame in case the marketer makes a misleading claim based on information the client provided? The law does not allow you to limit liability that it requires you to assume based on the fact you are the service provider.
The marketing campaign will involve a lot of intellectual property. Normally, the client holds these rights. However, your marketing contract should indicate clearly that the Intellectual Property passes on from you to the client only the moment you receive the full payment. What is more, the contract should say who assumes the rights to Intellectual Property to content you created, but the client rejected. Let the contract stipulate that you have the right to display a sample of the work you created in your portfolio.
Do not assume anything. Instead, make the contract as thorough as possible. It is better for the contract to be full of too much information rather than not. If it lacks some information, you may have to put up with a few losses down the line. A good contract covers everything the two of you can imagine. If you have never signed one, it might be a good idea for you to check a few samples on the Internet. Alternatively, ask your peers to show you a few of the contracts they created and signed with clients to see how it looks.
Study a few examples of intellectual property clauses, so you know how to phrase yours.
A solid contract must have a termination clause. Do not tie yourself to a contract such that you cannot get out when things appear crazy. The marketing contract must have one or two clauses that show clearly the circumstances under which one of the signatories can get out. It must look into the issue of the timeframe within which termination can take place. Furthermore, it must indicate the fees the person who wishes to terminate the contract has to pay. A properly drafted clause can allow a smooth and amicable termination of the contract to happen.
It takes a lot of skill to negotiate a good and favorable marketing contract.
Negotiations can collapse if you are in a rush. Therefore, it is good to take your time with the negotiations. Often, contracts that parties sign too hurriedly tend to be lousy. It is a fact that negotiating a contract is not something that everybody looks forward to. It is little wonder most people prefer doing whatever it takes to get this bit of the business over and done with as fast as possible. Taking your time, however, has plenty of benefits. For starters, it ensures you end up with a well-written marketing contract.
Where possible, you should get professional help. Writing a contract takes a different set of skills, which you may lack. All marketers – together with their clients – know what they want in any business deal or transaction. The problem comes when the two parties have to transfer their thoughts on to paper. Writing a contract in such a way that it protects your interests requires plenty of training. If possible, let your lawyer review the contract before you append your signature on it.
Ask a legal expert to look at the document and advise you accordingly before signing it.
A term sheet is the best place to begin any negotiation relating to a marketing contract. Term sheets look at the bigger picture. At this stage of the negotiation, the focus should be on the broad issues. This is not the time to consider the minute details of the contract. The time for looking at the nitty-gritty of the project will come later. For the most part, this part of the negotiation will proceed smoothly. Failure to proceed with this section smoothly should be a red flag warning you of the need to stop the negotiations.
Contract negotiations are akin to eating an elephant. Eating the elephant all at once is impossible. Instead, you can only eat an elephant a step at a time. Start dealing with the easier steps first. Use the small wins you get at these initial stages to build a momentum that you can then use in the subsequent negotiations. Always approach these negotiations with the right attitude. Get the easy stuff the two of you can agree on out of the way first. Thereafter, deal with the more difficult aspects of the contract.
Such a strategy always helps to make both of you feel invested in the negotiation.
Any negotiation that follows thereafter is likely to flow smoothly.
Your calculator should not be too far at this point. Do the calculations. What will you gain from the negotiations? Are your interests covered? These are just but a few of the questions you need to consider. Ask the client for as much information as you need to determine what is right for you. Remember, the purpose of negotiations is to ensure both of you get what you want. You negotiate so that you can write everything agreed upon down on paper and append your signatures to the document to make it legally binding.
Negotiations can last a long time. They involve sending and receiving emails, letters, text messages, and phone calls. They also involve several face-to-face meetings. However, there will be moments when the tone used in an email will not sit well with you. At such times, you will be left wondering what the client’s true intentions really are. If you think something is off with the quality of communication between you two, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call the other party. Ask for a clarification of any issue you didn’t understand well.
A rule of thumb is the first marketing contract is not final.
Go through the initial copy with a fine toothcomb. Peruse through every clause. Ask for clarifications to issues you do not understand. Make your own contributions too. The final copy is always miles different from the initial one. Do not scream and pull your hair out when you receive the first copy. Instead, view it as nothing more than a starting point since that is what it is. Ask the client to clarify any issue you do not understand. Where you come across a point or clause you don’t agree with, ask for a meeting to discuss the issue in-depth.
As you have repeatedly read by now, the purpose of negotiating a marketing contract is to end up with a document you are happy signing. The contract should protect your interests more than anything else. However, that does not give you the greenlight to be as unreasonable as you want with your demands. Negotiation involves both parties expressing their views, desires, needs, and expectations. If you struggle to be reasonable during the negotiations, look for some industry experts with whom you can talk and get help.
Overall, think about your end game as you spend countless hours discussing the marketing contract with your client. Have a clear picture in your mind of what it is you really want from the negotiation. Let the client know that you are interested in making the partnership work. Be ready to make a few compromises here and there to keep the negotiations going well and the client happy. Do not allow anybody to rush you through the negotiations. Be careful with the moves you plot though.
Begin implementing these pointers as you enter negotiations for a solid marketing contract.