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Marketing and Contracts: Six things you need to know

 

“I’m in marketing.  I don’t need to know anything about contracts or contract law!” 
 
Are you sure? If you are a marketer, an account manager, an executive or a business owner, I think an attitude of “Contracts? Not for me thanks” might be dangerous. 
 
Contracts are everywhere and contract law applies to nearly every aspect of our business relationships and our business life.  
 
Knowing a few key things about contracts and contract law may help you succeed.

1. Marketing life is governed by more contracts than you might realise

Every day, marketers work under contracts with clients, social media platforms and suppliers and contractors. They are ubiquitous. 

Even if nothing is in writing, you very likely still have a contractual arrangement – evidenced not by writing but by conduct. Don’t assume there is no contract, or that the contract won’t matter.

2. If it’s confidential, put an NDA in place

Quite often, you need to exchange confidential or commercially sensitive information with a client, supplier or potential partner. 

If that’s the case, make sure you first put a non-disclosure agreement in place. Also known as confidentiality agreements, NDAs are used in a variety of business relationships to contractually protect secrets.

We have a free template that can be downloaded on our website – NDA Legal Confidentiality Agreement

3. When things go wrong a contract can be used against you

Yes, many contracts are left in the bottom drawer and never looked at while things are going well. 

However when things go amiss, it’s the contract that will determine your rights, so you need to know what it says. 

Keep your contracts organised and handy. Don’t be afraid to pull them out for guidance.

4. Even when things are going well the contract still matters 

One of the most common things a contract does in the marketing space is specify who owns what is being produced. 

In the absence of written agreement and outside an employment relationship, the starting point is that the creator is the owner. 

But what does the contract say? Does your client expect to own copyright? Do you?

5. Don’t sign a blank cheque

Contracts are supposed to be a ‘meeting of the minds’. If you don’t agree with what’s written in a contract, say so and negotiate! 

Many agreements put forward by large corporates contain unfair and irrelevant clauses. Have them taken out. If a supplier won’t be reasonable with its terms and conditions, shop around.

6. Read and ask questions 

Read before you sign. A contract should be able to be understood. If not then it needs to be changed and you are within your rights to ask for an explanation, and for plain English wording. 

If neither party understands some wording, then a lawyer somewhere is likely at fault. The onus is then on the party that owns the document to fix it. 

Only when you understand and accept every word is the contract safe to sign.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Kelly is the founder of www.khqapproved.com.au/contract-review, a fixed fee commercial contract review service. Peace of mind from an experienced team for a reasonable price.

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