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How I Negotiate Deals 4,500% Better Than You Can

how to negotiate tv and radio deals

Please don’t be offended, but there’s a really good chance that you’re absolutely terrible at negotiating with TV and/or radio stations.

I don’t care how good you are at negotiating other stuff, it’s an absolute certainty that you SUCK at negotiating with these guys.

The reason why is simple: You don’t speak their language.

Yep; media has its own “language,” and if you’re not fluent in it, you’re going to end up buying swampland in Florida when you thought you were getting oceanfront property in Maui.

It’s one of the main reasons you need to come to my 2-day seminar in Dallas on April 26 & 27. To learn more about the event click here.

Let me give you an example.

I’m working with a new client in Milwaukee. They got interested in radio and TV recently and started trying to make a buy themselves.

Here’s what they ended up with:

TV Commercial Schedule Example
This is swampland, pure and simple. Let me explain:

  1. After we researched the market, we determined that this is actually the 4th or 5th best radio station for them to be on. That might be okay if the DEAL was so good that they just couldn’t pass it up, but….
  2. They have no way of knowing how good this buy is based on this document. It states that they will get 20 spots a week for 24 weeks for $800 a week. Is that good? Unless you know HOW MANY PEOPLE are going to hear those spots, it is 100% impossible to judge.
  3. The Endorsement by “Elizabeth” (on-air personality) is way overvalued—it’s 20% of the budget. We found out she endorses FOUR companies simultaneously—that’s too many!
  4. The sponsorship on the left and the list of stuff on the right is FILLER GARBAGE that is worth approximately nothing. If you don’t know that, it’s a problem.

When I called the station and had them send me the numbers on this buy (which the client never ever saw—by design of the station), here’s what I got:

TV Commercial Schedule Filler GarbageThe Cost per Thousand (CPM) looks pretty good at $5.26. But then you realize that they are padding this with a bunch of GARBAGE (circled above) and it’s not so good. In fact, it’s terrible.

It’s like going to the store and getting 4 pounds of bananas… 1 pound is fresh and ripe and good to eat, but the other 3 pounds are old and moldy and useless. But all you know is you paid a certain price for all 4 pounds.

Let’s ask them to take 3 pounds of moldy bananas out, and just sell us the 1 pound of GOOD bananas.

I did exactly that; I asked them to remove the garbage, which exposed what a bad deal this really was:
TV Commercial Schedule Good Bananas/Bad Bananas
Boom, the price (THE REAL PRICE!) just MORE THAN TRIPLED to $16.30 (CPM).

When I told her what I wanted, she then pulled a fast one on me—trying to trick me:

TV Commercial Schedule - Pulling a fast oneOkay, look, the price is down to $9.99—a big reduction. Except she used 30-second spots instead of 60 second spots to artificially lower the price.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, they will pull this crap on you all day long.

I went back and asked to price it out for 60-second spots:

TV Commercial Schedule - artificially lowering the price Okay, now the schedule is right, but the price is terrible. I would NEVER pay $14.04 CPM for radio for my clients.

Would you? Would you even know?

I sent this “lower the boom” email; note that I am asking for a price almost 2/3 less than what she had offered:

Commercial negotiating lower the boom emailThree hours later, I had this offer in my inbox:

Commercial decent offer$9.99… the same price she had previously offered me for 30-second spots. That’s a huge reduction with just one ask. I am sure I could get 20% to 35% more off… but since I don’t really want this station anyway, I decide not to put the thumbscrews on her.

Instead, I focus on getting a better price from a better station, and I am able to get prices of $8.00 CMP and $7.56 CPM from two stations I like better…

Then I start to negotiate with TV stations.

Long story short, I negotiated with one of the best stations in the entire market to get on for $3.50 CPM.

The original deal they had negotiated was $16.30. I ended up with a deal on a better station on TV for $3.50.

That’s media buying like a boss.

That’s how I negotiated deals that are literally 4,500% better than you.

If you think your AGENCY is doing a better job than you could, you’re probably right.

If you think your AGENCY is doing a better job than I would, you’re almost certainly WRONG.

The problem with agencies is that they almost always leave the negotiation to some junior-level wannabe who sucks at buying media.

When I took over Jericho’s $1 million media budget in 2015, I was able to negotiate deals 20% to 30% better than what they had been paying.

It happens all the time.

This is what you will learn at my “Make The Jump” seminar on April 26 & 27.

I hope you can make it.

You need to make it.

I’ll see you there.


Rich Harshaw





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