Aim N’ Flame Negotiations

What Could Be Better Than Getting A Great Deal On Advertising… AND Playing With Fire?

Next time you go to negotiate advertising prices with your local TV, radio, or print salesperson, first stop off at Wal-Mart and pick up a new Aim N’ Flame.  It just might be your most powerful negotiation tool.

In a recent consultation with a 2-day bath remodeling company, a client told me that they had decided to quit advertising in the local newspaper. Their $2,000 a month ad HAD been pulling 20 to 25 leads a week for an average of about $80 to $100 a lead—very acceptable. But over the last 6 months, their lead flow had slipped down closer to 8 or 10 a week—not great, but they were still able to make money. Now with the rate increase—about $2,500 for the same ad—they were ready to call it quits with the paper.  They wanted my advice on what to do with the money instead.

Not so fast!

Rule #1 of negotiations is to understand what motivates the other person so you can position yourself to give them whatever will make them happy. And in this circumstance, it was easy to see that the paper was STARVING for business. So many advertisers had already bailed out that they foolishly decided that they’d have to raise their prices to continue to make ends meet.

Since the client was fine with paying $80 for leads, I told him to call a meeting with the sales person and bring a pre-printed, pre-signed check for $15,000. That’s right—FIFTEEN GRAND. He assured me that his cash flow could handle the $15,000 hit, so I told him to bring the check. Then he was to look at the salesperson and say, word for word:

“I am holding in my hand a check for $15,000. I would like to give it to you today. This check will represent a pre-payment for 200 leads that I am willing to pay you $75 each for. You will run my ad as much as possible, and every time we get a lead, you can deduct $75 from my account. We are willing to utilize a trackable phone number so you and I both will know exactly how many leads result from your publication. You can either take this check and immediately begin running my ad, or I can take this here Aim n’ Flame and burn this check right now. You have 5 seconds to decide. Which do you prefer?”

Rule #2 in negotiation is that whoever is most willing to walk away from the deal has the power in the negotiation. Nothing says “I’m willing to walk away” like a handheld blowtorch.

So the meeting was called, the check was cut, and the Aim n’ Flame was purchased. Alas, the salesperson demurred—she couldn’t make that decision without management approval. No sweat. The check was burned right in front of her face.  Horrified, the sales rep hurried back to the office and consulted with the sales manager, who authorized the deal. A new check was cut within 45 minutes, and the deal was inked.

Not only did the client get a great deal with zero downside risk, they also got to have fun playing with fire and horrifying an advertising sales rep. And that my friends, is what you call a great day at the office.

Play around with as many variations of this as you want. If you can’t afford $15,000—no sweat. Make the check for as much as you feel comfortable spending. Maybe a pay-per-lead relationship isn’t available or possible with a given media partner. No sweat—negotiate a low rate for the ad; one that you can live with. But whatever you do, do not minimize the importance of actually cutting the check and actually bringing an Aim N’ Flame into the meeting. They make all the difference in the world.

Rich Harshaw is the CEO of Monopolize Your Marketplace, a marketing services company that has specialized in home improvement marketing since 2005. To learn more about Rich and his company, please visit, or email Rich at