By Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte, Fujita & Miura Public Relations
Fans of NBC’s “The Apprentice” will recall that a recent episode featured the Apex team nearly losing their shirts over a mis-negotiated price quote from a vendor. The team went $5,000 over their $50,000 budget and ultimately lost to team Mosaic.

Each team was given $50,000 to “create a buzz” about Procter & Gamble’s new Vanilla Mint Crest toothpaste. According to NBC’s “The Apprentice” website’s episode recap, “The candidates were surprised to learn that the fliers cost much more than they had thought – putting the team $5,000 over budget. Maria told the printer that she had given him a price that they could not go over, but the printer said that there were overtime costs. In an interview, Ivana said that the team went over budget because there wasn’t clarity in the negotiations with the printer…In the boardroom, Trump told Apex that while P&G liked their product launch best, Apex went over budget by 10%, no small amount.”

Having a great PR or marketing concept and plan is an important step in promoting your business. However, cost counts too, and when it’s your business, or your livelihood at stake, you can’t afford – literally – to miscalculate the numbers. Apex missed out on the prize of eating filet mignon aboard the Queen Mary 2, but your steaks, or stakes, may be a lot higher.

It’s often difficult to create accurate cost projections for marketing projects, unless you have years of experience doing so, and unless you know and trust your vendors. Maria clearly stated what her budget was, but didn’t know her vendor, and didn’t go the extra step of asking whether they could meet that cost within the allotted timeframe. That last part is key: many marketing budgets go the way of the Apex team’s because shipping, rush and overtime charges are not considered.

Once you have a promotional plan in place, take the time to talk with all of your vendors in detail about your deadlines, expectations of quality, and budget. Do not assume anything, and discuss all particulars. Use your active listening skills to repeat to them your understanding of what they will deliver, when and for how much. And finally, it’s always best to receive estimates in writing so that if problems arise, you can refer to the document and it won’t turn into a “he said, she said” situation.

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