Tips For Marketing Contracts

Feb. 06

When you work in the corporate world of online marketing, you’ll be working with a multitude of search engines, partners, vendors, and technologies. Each interaction will require contracts – NDAs, Ts and Cs, and IOs. When you have a technology and/or marketing background, the legal side of things can often be daunting. Today, I wanted to provide some practical tips for managing marketing contracts, especially for those that work within marketing at a large company.


  1. Whenever you start talking to a new partner, get an NDA (non disclosure agreement) in place. A mutual NDA allows two parties to share sensitive information without risk of the information being shared with other parties/competitors. Without an NDA in place, you simply cannot have an in-depth business discussion with an outside party. Of course, always keep your confidential numbers close at hand, even with an NDA in place and whenever in doubt ask your legal team (or your manager) if it’s ok to share the information at hand.
  2. Get really good at project management. When you have a lot of contracts in your legal team’s queue, it’s easy to lose track. Keep everything in an Excel spreadsheet. Follow up with your legal team regularly. Make time to fully explain the business side of the contract. Assign a dollar value to the contract (by projecting the value of the program at hand). Keep circling back with your legal team and the partner to make sure the ball keeps rolling. Dealing with legal contracts gives online marketers a true opportunity to flex our project management skills.
  3. Always read your contracts before sending over to your legal team. A good percentage of the time, I find errors in contracts. There’s nothing like providing a first line of defense and truly understanding your contracts. Your legal team will truly thank you and you will do your company a true service by taking this extra step.
  4. Request editable contracts (as opposed to PDFs) from your partners and vendors. This will make it easier for your legal team to add their red lines and save a ton of time. Make sure to do everything possible to help out your legal team.
  5. Never click to accept any contract before running through your legal team. When you’re creating a new search engine account, for example, there are always Ts and Cs you must click to accept. Unless you are an officer at your company, you will not be authorized to accept any agreement without going through legal/officer approval first.
  6. Form a really strong relationship with our legal team (and your finance team too). Make sure to take them to lunch, stop by their cubes, and become friends. Your legal team will truly be one of your greatest assets. Without the support of your legal and finance teams, your marketing initiatives would grind to a halt.
  7. Do everything possible to negotiate a great deal. When you’re in the contract phase, especially with a new vendor, you can often negotiate great rates. When you’re testing, push the limits on pricing and terms. Get your company the best possible arrangement.
  8. Keep a contracts database. Understand end dates and renewal dates. Stay on top of your IOs (Insertion Orders). The worst thing in the world of search engine marketing is when an IO expires and then your campaigns go offline.
  9. As soon as a contract is approved, make sure to file a purchase req / purchase order. You cannot pay a bill at most companies until an approved purchase req / purchase order is in place. Just like your contracts and IOs, make sure to stay on top of your purchase orders and the amount of funds left on them. Just like your legal team, your finance team should be your best friend!

I hope these tips help. When you work at a large company, marketing is such an inter-disciplinary field. Leverage these tips to flex your legal skills and make the most of your contracts!

Image of Contract © iStockPhoto – courtneyk

One Comment

  1. Veron says:

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for all the tips! Those tips only gained by having gone through it.

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