Getting the Deal Memo on Paper
I suppose it’s the same in every business. I know that it’s so in publishing. An important term — a term such as 1st pages — can mean something entirely different from one organization to another. Many folks make the mistake of thinking that when we use the same words that we mean the same things. Then in the middle of a project bad things happen, and great relationships sour. One way to get close to clear communication is to get down in writing what is being agreed to.
Unfortunately, some jobs would be in serious jeopardy if we waited to start until a full-blown contract could be prepared. I can show you how to get the most important information together in one place in just a few minutes. In this case, it’s deal memo for intellectual property — a job definition that will make both the client and the contractor comfortable enough to begin working.
I’ve made a sample on the next page. Let’s look.
How to Write Deal Memo in Under 5 Minutes
In my experience, what often happens is that a client and consultant talk about a project and then say, Let’s put together something that shows how we might work together. In another scenario, two equal partners, trying to build something as Phil and I are, need to determine the details of how the relationship will work.
What happens most often in these situations is that folks try to gather too much detailed information. What’s needed is the basics so that both parties can move forward with confidence that important parts are covered. The assumption is that standard industry practice covers all else until the contract is written. As soon thereafter when the contract is ready, the information on the deal memo, easily fits into a contract as Exhibit A — add target schedule dates tied to payments, and your good to go.
A deal memo also stops conversation with other parties around that project.
Take a look at this sample deal memo and what it covers. It is typical for intellectual property, in all ways except that we were still negotiating how to split the online rights so, on this one, they are not addressed outright.
It’s still enough to send and sign to show that we agree on major points and preliminary work can begin. The team can talk about ideas, folks who might need to be contacted and hired, other supply and staffing issues, while we are working out the details of a project scope and proposal, and issues such as the way to address electronic rights.
It took me at least 15 times longer to write this post than it does to write the average deal memo. On Phil’s job the deal memo outlines that there will be one book worked on, that it will come from his archives, and who will own the rights.
Do you have questions or concerns at this point?
For another kind of job, you might write a 5-minute proposal. I’ll show how to do that in the next post.
–ME “Liz” Strauss