Herb Cohen, the illustrious guru of negotiation techniques and author of You Can Negotiate Anything, steps outside the usual to teach us a pungent lesson from the prostitute. Think about it. When and where is the best time for a prostitute to negotiate her wares to the dark suitor of the night? Right there on the roadside lurking in the shadows, or should she accept the suitors’ invitation to jump into the car first, or should she wait till they get to the hotel bar, or the hotel room, or till after the act? The way reality goes, for each step she takes on this list, her value decreases exponentially. By the time the dark suitor has had his fill, value degenerates to near zero, he does not feel she is worth being paid anything beyond his magnanimous instinct.
His magnanimous instinct!
Therefore, learn at least one good thing from the prostitute who refuses to move an inch from that dark spot till she has firmed up the deal. She gets best value when her well-packaged form carries significant and veiled mysteries. The imagination plays. What is inside the dark skirt, that body hugging blouse? The dark suitor will agree to a premium value for his own imagination! She does not allow herself to be swayed by the risks of the night, she is not tempted by the cosy car interior, nor by the lure of free alcohol and good food. She knows that all those things are icings on the cake once a good deal has been struck!
I learnt this lesson the hard way in my early copy writing days, when a moonlighting client will send a brief and plead for immediate action. Excited by the brief and anxious to please, I would lock myself up and break the code. Once I hit the basic copy idea, I would rush to the client with the answer. So now he can see the words and the visual idea. But there is a problem, because it all now seems so obvious, so simple! He can no longer imagine paying for the true worth of the work. He says to himself:
But I could have thought this up!
I hadn’t read Cohen then.
After learning my lesson the hard way, I would never put pen to paper until client had not only agreed to a firm deal, but paid a reasonable percentage of the value. I noticed that even though they used to protest this, yet it made them value my work far more. When I say I don’t get inspired until I smell the cash, it creates a little mystery. And who doesn’t get carried away by a little mystery? Who wants to pay for something ordinary? All value, one way or the other, is perceptual. This is one of the ways I escaped the destiny of the proverbial “poor writer”. Although like Oliver, I still want plenty more
Learn from the prostitute.
(•The attached picture is for illustration purposes only. She is NOT a prostitute!)