Selling Creative Part 2: Talk the Talk

This is the second 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.

What bad habits should be eliminated when presenting creative work?

Collectively, we are poor listeners – trying to answer the clients’ questions before they have even finished asking them. Instead, listen and interpret what your clients are trying to say – they may be making the work better, so tune in, actively listen and help them articulate their feedback. They are another collaborator in the creative process after all.

It’s also time to drop words like “cute,” “fun” and “cool” from our vocabulary. Clients simply do not care about cute, fun or cool. Clients care about ROI, about units sold, about behaviors changed. Rather than use these fluff words, understand the terms relevant to your clients’ business, and use them appropriately.

Replace “I think” with “we think” – show up as a united team. It’s okay to fight about the work internally, but always fight for the work when presenting to your client.

Coming up, Selling Creative Part 3: Defending the Work

Judging the Work

Mutual trust is the cornerstone of a successful agency-client relationship, and key to creating great work. Clients bring unparalleled industry knowledge, while agencies excel at bringing campaigns to life. Trusting each other’s expertise, listening, and asking productive questions can mean the difference between a good campaign and a great one.

When it comes time to assess creative, a few simple tips help demystify the process and ultimately improve agency-client communication.

Back to the Brief: Pay attention to the creative brief – even before brainstorming and concept development begins – as it guides the work every step of the way. Both the agency and client should check work against the brief and determine whether it meets the goals and communication objectives set forth. When unveiling the work, good presenters set the stage by restating the assignment and demonstrating how the work aligns perfectly with the brief.

Target Practice: Most of us cannot escape our own biases. If you do not represent the target, then put yourself in the shoes of a typical audience member.

What is the persona of my target?
How would s/he respond to this?
What feedback can we get from actual target audience members?

Understanding the context, creative cues and cultural triggers of the target will help determine the fit, or lack thereof.

So What: Remember – you want more than anything to be noticeable and memorable. Most viewers will spend far less time with the work than you.

What is your initial, gut reaction to the work? Surprised, amused, or otherwise emotionally moved? Creating an emotional connection means the work has done its job.

You can always ask your agency, with impunity, questions such as:

Which one do you recommend and why?
How this will be produced?
How different will this work look in its final form?

Follow these tips to foster an environment where constructive conversations between agency and client occur at every important juncture and together, successful partnerships, and campaigns, are born.