Selling Creative Part 3: Defending the Work

This is the third of four posts, written by Kristin Kidd, Director of Account Service at Amélie Company. These posts provide recap of key takeaways from Ad Club Denver’s “Food For Thought” panel on selling creative.

How do you defend the work without sounding defensive?

Go back to the brief. The creative brief is an expectation management tool. If the brief is solid, everyone agrees on its content, and the work supports it, then the creative shouldn’t need defending. And speaking of defending…

Support the work, don’t defend it. “Defending the work” represents an antagonistic point of view. Remember that everyone is working towards a shared goal of great work that supports a business objective.

Know the work well enough to know how much it can bend before it breaks… and know when to walk away from an idea. If it’s being changed so much that it no longer resembles the idea you sold, then be prepared to take it off the table. Walk away from it and come back to your client with something better. Tune in, listen to your clients’ feedback – they might be making the work better.

Avoid trying to solve problems on the fly, in the meeting as this dilutes creative thinking. It really is as easy as telling your client, “Thank you for your feedback, let us think about it and we will get back to you with a solution.”

Coming up, Selling Creative Part 4: Presentation Styles

Selling Creative Part 1: Perception

This is the first of four posts, written by Kristin Kidd, Director of Account Service at Amélie Company. These posts provide recap of key takeaways from Ad Club Denver’s “Food For Thought” panel on selling creative.

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in and moderating Ad Club Denver’s “Food For Thought” – a monthly panel on topics relevant to our industry. “Selling Creative” brought together creative and account veterans from Denver/Boulder ad agencies Grenadier, Sterling Rice Group, Victors & Spoils, cp+b, and of course, Amélie Company. The is the first of four posts providing a recap of key takeaways; I hope you find great nuggets for selling creative to your clients.

Part 1: Preparation There’s a fine line between being prepared and sounding rehearsed. Know the pitch inside out. Know your work inside out. And be prepared to review, revise or remove work right before the meeting (even mid-meeting) if necessary. As a team, walk into that presentation aligned, arm-in-arm and in lock-step. Find shared chemistry and conviction with fellow presenters. Pre-selling the strategy and creative idea (without actually showing the creative beforehand) sets your client up for success and helps minimize surprises. A few things to keep in mind:

Connect. When presenting, remember the client wants to solve a business problem with a creative solution. Connect with your client by speaking their language; this helps establish credibility for your team, and the work.

Set the stage. At the start of every single meeting, remind your client about the shared goal, what the creative is trying to achieve, the target audience and desired action.

Don’t assume. Clients have many other responsibilities aside from advertising. Take a moment to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Breathe. Walk into the meeting calm and grounded. Find a few moments prior to the presentation to get physically grounded: lower your voice, slow your heart rate and calm your nerves.

Up next, Selling Creative Part 2: Talk the Talk

In These Walls

When we moved Amélie Company into our new space at 2601 Blake Street in 2009, we knew the building harbored a special energy. The enthusiasm level of our team went through the roof, our clients ooohed and aaahed and prospects were duly impressed. Originally built in 1910 as a paint and varnish manufacturing plant, the building had also served as a chocolate factory and catering kitchen over the years. After a complete remodel – getting “down to the studs,” removing layers of grease and grime, cinder blocks from the grand windows – we came to know the bones of this place and appreciate the bold, solid and swell, red brick.  

And it piqued our curiosity. Who was here before us? What did it look like in the early 20th century? We went about digging up old archives, visiting the Denver Public Library’s Western History & Genealogy department and getting the building listed on the Historical register. Ultimately, we discovered that it was originally the Joseph A. McMurtry building, and that it used to look like this:


Then, just the other day, I stumbled upon this article. Seeing the author’s name and Colorado connection, I shot out an email to see if there was any relation. Sure enough! Jeannette’s husband is the grandson of the building’s original namesake. But the parallels did not stop there: Jeanette works in advertising and speaks specifically about “behavior marketing;” we discovered we have friends in common; and we’ll be skiing the same slopes in the very near future. Below: me and Jeannette McMurtry.

Robin & Jeanette

This photo is my favorite: it shows the paint and varnish mixers in the exact same space where our team is set up today. The parallel between the work they did then and the work we’re doing now is extraordinary. Pouring over colors, commercial art, mixed media. It all seemed like a wonderful coincidence or an inevitable course set by history.