Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I learned from American Pickers

My go-to TV show while clearing the dinner dishes is American Pickers on History.

I used to consider this light entertainment. Then I realized I was absorbing key fundamentals of negotiating.
  • The art of the bundle Frank Fritz has perfected a technique for elevating price negotiations when at an impasse with  owners. He groups together several items, making the price for each less important. This same approach works wonders when I’m asked to write several small projects. Rather than try to price each one separately, an overall project cost can seal the deal.
  • What do you value this piece at? Both Frank and Mike Wolfe use this line frequently to gauge a starting point for negotiation. Swap out “piece” for “project,” and it’s a perfect inquiry for gauging the parameters of the client’s budget.
  • There’s a bunch of rust, and some pieces are missing Any item in mint condition is going to be worth a lot more than something you dug up in the backyard. The inverse is true in copywriting. Any project with all the pieces in place – clear objectives, accessible background materials, available subject matter experts, reasonable review and approval process – will cost less than one where much more work is required to get it into shape.
With every negotiation, both sides do a little dance to get what they want. When the guys at American Pickers seal their first deal, they shake on it. They call it “breaking the ice.”

There are few handshakes in my business, where client contacts are mostly by phone and email. All I can offer is solid writing, with attention to detail and fresh thinking about the client’s problems.

That must hold sway because many of them come back year after year for new projects. My deliverable becomes the Amy Ink ice-breaker, paving the way for future collaborations...and more negotiations.

I guess I'll having to start paying closer attention to History shows, considering their educational value for managing my small business. In fact, I just might take a break right now to watch a few episodes of Pawn Stars. Let's see what tricks those negotiation pros have up their sleeves.

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