In early 2007, one of the largest US magazine publishing companies faced eroding profits in a shrinking market. Competitors were able to target more customer demographics due to quicker transitions to internet marketing & sales approaches, and more specific niche titles. The publishing company was playing catch up in creating web portals for its titles to increase web advertising and generating more sophisticated subscriber data to allow for more targeted marketing of customers. Furthermore, senior executives at the publishing company learned they were perceived as soft negotiators by advertisers and ad agencies because the publishing company often ended up coming into the negotiations at the last minute and making concessions nobody else would make. Advertisers received front-end incentives that did not translate to back-end profits for the publishing company. Infighting among this publishing company's different magazine titles also exacerbated the issue and allowed advertisers to use this to their advantage. The publishing company needed to align internal parties in order to conduct more integrated negotiations, reduce concessions and expand the value of the negotiated agreements. The goal: be treated less like a commodity and more like a valued partner.
During an 18 month initiative, Accordence conducted five sessions with the publishing company's senior management group and ten additional sessions with others involved in the negotiations including corporate sales, editorial staff, and personnel from individual titles for a total of close to 175 people trained in Just Negotiate®. All decision makers involved in pricing attended at least one session which focused on preparation, conduct, difficult tactics, and changing the game from commodity to valued partner. Negotiators strategized on the specific challenges they faced with the ad agencies and left the sessions with specific approaches to deal with tactics they expected to face. They improved their ability to negotiate internally to prepare for their external negotiations. The publishing company's negotiators learned how to turn their counterpart's difficult tactics into methods that led the way to expanding the value of the deal to all parties.
By the end of FY07, the publishing company surpassed its aggressive annual revenue target by approximately $20 million, enhancing their profitability tremendously. Executives exceeded their earlier expectations that with negotiation training they would consider the year a success if they only approached the target. As a result of the sessions, the publishing teams viewed their negotiations differently and more postively. Internal wrangling was reduced dramatically and replaced by a corporate negotiation approach that focused on the publishing company as a whole rather than on positions of individual magazine titles. They still competed vigorously for ad dollars amongst themselves, but had a strategic framework to negotiate internally in a collaborative manner and present a united front to the advertisers and ad agencies.