10 Basic Tips For Negotiating More Effectively

Blog Post Published on Kent Business TV (May 2011)

Last week’s third episode of The Apprentice (UK) left me amazed at how poor the candidates were at negotiating. Apart from one candidate called Jim (who actually looks a possible winner) – the others did not appear to understand the basic principles of how to get a better deal when negotiating.

This short blog aims to provide a number of practical tips on how to get a better deal when negotiating and draws upon my own experience of working across a number of challenging market sectors: retail, fmcg, electronics, distribution, market research and media.

Know what you want…

Identify exactly what it is you want to buy/source and find out where you can get it. There are many supplier directories now available online and your industry media partner’s magazine or website will help point you in the right direction. Don’t forget to use WOM (word of mouth) – ask your personal business contacts who they are using and get some background on their experiences in dealing with certain suppliers.

Know your budget…
This is common sense, but it is perhaps the most important variable – there is no point wasting your time trying to source suppliers and items which are clearly too expensive. It is critical that you keep in mind the budget that you have available and try to use your negotiational skills to maximise it. If you are quoted a price, never leave it on the table without a challenge – you have to work hard to get a good price, so be prepared to put the effort in.

Do your homework…
Establish the market cost structures for the service/products that you wish to source. A good marketer will always have an excellent knowledge of how much it will cost for advertising, event sponsorship, promotional items, printing collateral, design labour costs etc – using their previous experiences to help provide them with clear market benchmarks for negotiating. The price you pay for anything will always be dictated by the market value (what people are prepared to pay for it). It is important to get at least 3 competitive quotes from different suppliers as this will give you an idea of the price differences.

Know the market conditions…
The current economic climate means that buyers are in a very powerful position to negotiate and suppliers are under more pressure than ever to get that order. The rise of social media marketing is clearly putting pressure on industry media partners as brands’ can now implement PR and marketing campaigns without any cost to their business – this means that marketers are in a strong position to get a good bargain when negotiating advertising, events, webinars, advertorial and contact lists to name but a few (this should be used to your advantage).

Look at the bigger picture…
When looking for a special deal, always remember that building a long-term relationship with your supplier will enable you to secure a better price – make sure you emphasize this when negotiating. Suppliers will want to work with you on a price if they believe there is going to be a long-term relationship at stake. Even if this is not the immediate case, you can still sell the idea that you are working towards the selection of a number of partners for the future.

Ask for what you want…

Too many people skirt around the issues when trying to haggle over a price, make sure you ask exactly for what you want and make it clear up-front what you are prepared to pay for.

Timing is everything…
If the supplier thinks that you will be able to do a deal quickly, they will try harder to get the right price for you. Everyone is trying to get an order on the books and if they can see that something will be agreed today/tomorrow – you might just get that great price!

Use charm with integrity…
Use your personality, enthusiasm and charm to give you an advantage when negotiating. Getting a fantastic price on something really can be influenced by the emotional/rapport factors in play – being polite, friendly, genuine and direct can work, but do it with integrity.

Stay in touch…
A good marketer will stay in touch with all his/her existing/potential suppliers as part of the relationship building exercise. This will serve 2 basic purposes: it allows you to stay up-to-date with all commercial market opportunities/pricing points and it will always help you develop a better long-term relationship (which helps every negotiation for the future). It is also worth catching-up with your contacts near the end of the month to see if there are any last-minute opportunities as most sales professionals will have a monthly target to achieve (your chances of getting a better price will be improved if they need a quick sale to help them out).

Draw upon experience…

Demonstrating that you are a good buyer will help promote your credibility within the negotiation process i.e. if you have spent £xx in the past 12-months sponsoring a number of events, then you will be in a stronger position to negotiate on that next event.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog entry and remember this post is just a basic outline of the key variables which I believe to be important – there will be others! Feel free to add your own comments and suggestions.

If you found this blog interesting – please feel free to share it!

The Benefits Of Blogging

A Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs (Part 3)

In parts 1 and 2, we have already looked at some practical applications of using tools such as Twitter and LinkedIn as part of an integrated social media marketing approach for your business and in this latest installment – we will take a look at why you should be using a blog as an additional tool to compliment your social media strategy.

What is blogging?
Quite simply for the purpose of this basic guide, a blog is a way in which you can communicate and share your personal thoughts and views on the web using a personalised blogging website to host all your content.

Blogging has become a very popular marketing and thought leadership tool over the last 5 years and is used quite heavily by leading industry experts to share their views on topical issues.

The Power Of Blogging…

Thought Leadership
Everyday, we are trying to demonstrate to our customers/prospects that we are experts, market leaders and the best at what we do, whether we are providing a product or service. Blogging is a fantastic vehicle which can allow you to cement this position as it can provide you with enormous online reach.

To become a thought leader, you can use your blog to share your expertise and experience by publishing your thoughts and commentary on a number of topics i.e. key industry issues, market trends, customer insight, product/service developments, topical news stories, best practice, industry events – the list goes on (you get the idea).

It is important however that you keep your blog up-to-date, interesting and relevant. If you have a great idea for a blog, make sure to get in contact with your industry media partners to share your thoughts as it common practice for some of these to be published on their own website or published as copy within their magazine (if it is a great blog/thought leadership article). This means that you get great copy for your website, your client newsletter to endorse your position as an expert in your industry and also gives you additional credibility for your blog which you can share with millions online.

Boost Your Web Traffic / Online Presence
A blog is another great way of bringing more traffic to your company website as it provides enormous online reach. Creating a topical or interesting blog post that is supported with relevant tags (keywords associated with your post) means that more people will be able to find your contribution quicker. To help bring more visitors to your company website, make sure to add lots of links within your blog post (adding your preferred landing page url) as this deliver more traffic and potential new clients to your website.

If you develop and effectively maintain your blog – delivering great content, adding relevant url links and ensuring your blog is supported with the correct tagging – you will make it easier for people to find you, your company and your content online and within the blogosphere.

To support your web traffic further, you can directly post your blog to your LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites. This is good practice in general and compliments your social media profile, whilst creating content that should be of interest for your customers and prospects.

Powerful Copy
Your website is a shop window not only for your existing clients, but also for potentially new ones. A blog is a great prop for your website and will give you an opportunity to generate more traffic as long as your content is thought-provoking, interesting and relevant. Giving people a reason to return to your website is always a good marketing tactic and sometimes a compelling blog which is updated each day/week can support this activity, as your visitors might be keen to read your latest entry.

Real Time Insights

The beauty about having a blog is that you do not need to be a website developer or designer and you certainly do not need to wait days to have your content published online. A blog provides real-time insight and commentary in an engaging way that allows people to get involved in the subject/topic.

Example…
You visited an industry seminar and were not able to contribute to the discussions that were taking place in which a number of interesting prospects were in attendance. A blog will give you the means to comment on anything that you agreed/disagreed with and also provide you with an opportunity to share your own views on a burning issue that you feel passionate about. Once you have created your blog post and added your tags and relevant url links to support the entry – you can share your post instantly using your various social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter etc) which will in addition to making your blog visible within the blogosphere, will also allow you to reach a further audience within the social media networks that you are registered with. Remember, sound out your local media partner as the post may be something they can use in their own magazine or online features section.

Get Started
There are quite a number of blogging sites available to get started and the below are just a few to point you in the right direction. Once you have decided which one you want to use, simply register and get started! At first, it will take some time to experiment, but once you become familiar with the blogging process – you will soon become an expert.

WordPress
TypePad
Blogger
Moveable Type
Xanga

In the next installment (Part 4) of my blog – A Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs I will be focusing on the benefits and applications of social bookmarking.

If you have found my blog interesting and helpful, please feel free to share this post with others via the below social bookmarks.

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Get Connected, Get LinkedIn

A Guide To Social Media Marketing (Part 2)

Launched in 2003 and with over 100m registered users worldwide, LinkedIn has become the fastest growing and most popular professional networking website around. LinkedIn is a tool that most professional marketers are aware of and using to great effect – and as a free resource (is a must for SMEs)!

In this blog, I will share with you some of the best practical applications of LinkedIn for SMEs and the key benefits it can deliver, however the first thing you need to do (right now) is to create an account on Linkedin.

Getting Started: The Basics
To get the most from LinkedIn, I recommend that you put time and effort into creating a strong profile. This will be the first thing that potential contacts will look at in deciding whether they wish to become a connection. I have seen a number of examples of very poor profiles on LinkedIn, where people have not filled in the most basic detail about their expertise/background or in taking the time needed to build a profile which looks credible. In my opinion, you will have little success with LinkedIn if you do not bother to work on developing a strong profile. The profile is your online CV – therefore, make it stand out!

Now you have an account, created a great profile – start using LinkedIn to find contacts for existing and former clients, colleagues, media partners, suppliers and off-course for identifying potential new contacts as part of developing your business development pipeline. Like anything, once you start using this site, it is important that your build it into your daily to-do-list as to really utilise the benefits it offers, you need to use it as a business support tool everyday.

Brand Communications: Maximising Your PR
What makes LinkedIn such a fantastic business tool for brand communications is its sheer ability to provide real-time communications with a market reach of over 100m. One of the most practical tools available on LinkedIn is the status bar on your profile – the status function should be used by all your employees (who have an account) to share company news/updates. As soon as you update your status, your connections will see it on their updates page and this is a great way of providing additional reach for your brand communications. The beauty about the status function is that you can add links to published articles, presentations, video clips and press releases that are either hosted on your own website or a media partner’s website. To get the most from LinkedIn as a PR tool – use the Groups available to also add your latest PR and thought leadership content. Doing this simple activity will ensure that your message reaches a targeted audience and in return help drive traffic to your website. Over the last 3 years, LinkedIn generated up-to 20% of all unique web visitors for my previous agency – and helped raise brand profile along the way.

Thought Leadership: Sharing Knowledge
If you have a presentation that was recently delivered at an industry conference, make sure to upload it on LinkedIn using the Google presentation application – this will provide another great way of enhancing your profile whilst offering a targeted/extended route for sharing your knowledge which will support your company’s brand position as an industry expert.

Get Prospecting: Lead Generation Development
As a social site that has over 100m registered accounts, LinkedIn provides marketers and business development professionals with a fantastic prospecting resource – you can use the people and company search functions to easily identify possible prospects. Now you have found a possible prospect/contact – you have a few options available i.e.invite them to become a connection or use the information that you now have at your disposal to create a foundation for the next stage of your prospecting/lead generation strategy. Another great benefit of LinkedIn is that you are able to view most of the contacts who view your profile, and again this is a powerful lead generation tool which should be acted upon!

The Power of Groups: Enhancing Your Industry Expertise
Using the groups directory and search function, make sure you are a member of all relevant groups for your business. This will allow you to follow key industry/group issues, track contact level activity, whilst providing you with a golden opportunity to get involved in on-going group discussions. It also provides another avenue for brand positioning and developing your company profile at group level – as most of your existing clients and key targets will already be members. There are many examples of clients finding suppliers using groups as handy industry resource. Don’t forget – you can also set-up your own group and this option will support your lead generation strategy as you will be able to monitor all leads who register to your group.

Better SEO: Letting Clients Find You
Creating a company profile on LinkedIn will ensure that potential clients and prospects will find you easily and this is becoming a popular search tool. Make sure you keep the company profile up-to-date and get all your employees to set-up their own accounts on LinkedIn – but make sure they develop their profile pages, so that they are as impactful as possible. The company page is something that a lot of people now browse to get a feel for your organisation and also to get an overview of your team and latest activity/updates. LinkedIn is similar in nature to Twitter and provides a follow option – therefore make sure to follow all companies that are relevant to your business as this will keep you up-to-date with their activity on LinkedIn i.e. new hires, employees, latest news etc.

Remember, the more content you add to your profile, the more groups you join, the more discussions you get involved in, the more connections you make – the better your SEO will be on LinkedIn (meaning more people will be able to find you).

Talent Management: Find Your Next Employee
If you are spending a lot of money on recruitment agencies to support your talent management strategy, then look no further than LinkedIn as your perfect HR partner. LinkedIn offers you the perfect free solution to filling that next vacancy. Simply using the advanced people/company search options – you can identify potential employees and make direct contact with them (cutting out the middle man).

Working Smarter: Handy Apps
There are a number of handy apps on LinkedIn which will help you work smarter and also provide yet more benefits for lead generation and marketing activities. Take the time to explore all the applications available and define the most appropriate for your business. To give you a head start on apps, here are a few which you should be using: Google Presentation, SlideShare, WordPress, Blog Link, Events and Company Buzz.

Summary
This blog has covered some of the most basic applications of how LinkedIn can help your business and if used effectively – it will deliver a cost-effective route to market. The benefits it will yield will depend on the time and effort you put into the resource (so make sure you use it on a daily basis and embed it into your marketing and business development strategy).

In part 3 of my “Guide To Social Media Marketing For SMEs”, I will be looking at Blogging, so keep an eye out for my next installment.

McCallum Layton Launch New Integrated Online Research Service

UK Research & Marketing Insight Consultancy McCallum Layton has launched a new online service that provides a fully integrated research and insight management solution comprised of three elements:- e-qual; e-quant and The Hub.

e-qual provides a variety of online qualitative research techniques including: focus groups, bulletin boards and bespoke web communities.

e-quant handles web-based and email-based surveys and provides online data analysis tools and reporting.

The Hub is the agency’s insight management portal through which clients can access their projects from anywhere in the world via a secure login.

Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner said “We are committed to providing our clients with additional benefits that will improve their bottom line. Our new service will not only provide clients with greater insight from their research but will also help them manage and disseminate the findings with greater speed and efficiency. Whilst providing clients with online services is not new to our agency, we have greatly enhanced our offering in this area to complement our other research services and solutions. In the last 12 months over 20 major new clients used our services including Greggs, O2, Vimto and Bosch, and we are excited about rolling out further new client services in 2010.”

McCallum Layton Sponsor MBA Award at Bradford University School of Management

This year, for the first time, we sponsored the award for the best MBA Marketing dissertation at Bradford University School of Management, which is the 16th ranked Business School in UK (Financial Times 2009 rankings). The prize, a cheque for £100, was presented by Duncan McCallum, Founding Partner at McCallum Layton at the graduation ceremony on Wednesday 2nd December, to Andrea Musci from Milan. We are delighted to also confirm that we will be sponsoring the prize next year.

Nina Reynolds, Professor of Marketing at Bradford University School of Management said “We are delighted to have McCallum Layton support our MBA and look forward to developing our strategic partnership over the coming years.”