Last night I visited LBi for a Creative Social evening entitled NO! It was good fun and the talks were varied - some more fun and others more useful.
I'm not going to write up the whole evening, but I'd like to focus on Becky Power's talk a little. (In truth the following is an amalgamation of a few of the talks, but using her talk as a template is useful).
Becky talked about the frustrations we all have when we think we have an amazing idea that is creative, compelling, relevant and will be successful... only for the client to say NO! She showed this video of one of her favourite campaigns:
Becky didn't work on the campaign but recently contacted the then client to find out some details of how the campaign came to life. The client said he hadn't bought it first time, but eventually did.
The client was also the chap that bought this:
So what made him change his mind with these pieces of work? What compelled him to buy these (relatively) risky campaigns? Crucially, how did the agency turn a NO into a YES?
He gave Becky some pointers on how an agency could do that. (These tips are never gospel and different people have different opinions so I've added my own little opinions too. The list below is not what Becky said - I've built on it).
- A good idea is not enough -
Clients love good ideas, but 'good' is totally subjective so it's vital to prove why the work is right for the business challenge in hand, why it's right for the consumer and why it's distinctive in market. When you can prove it's right, then you can say it's good. (I touched on this a little here).
- People present stuff that is completely buried in waffle -
Being a Planner, I'm obviously keen to explain to a client why we're doing what we're doing, and to explain why it's right for the task in hand. So whilst it's vital to explain the stuff above, it's just as vital not to let it overshadow the creative idea. I am passionate about keeping things simple, but I'm ashamed to say I've been in pitches before where the client needed a natural break when we were presenting the strategy as it took so long. (I must say I didn't write that deck...) This simply isn't good enough and it's not needed. If that's the way your presentation is looking then you need to think of a different way of presenting.
- The client is not an idiot -
The client probably knows more about their brand and business than you. They probably know more about their sector than you. They probably know more about how easy it will be to obtain internal buy-in for any specific idea. Think about how you broach these subjects and how you talk about them. Be humble. This is an interesting one to me, as one of the examples given was about not recounting the brief back to the client. (He/ she knows the brief as they wrote it!) I'm not sure about this, and I always find it useful to do this to keep the responses in context and on track.
- The client views their brand differently to you -
I found this interesting: "Clients view the brands as they'd like them to be, agencies view them as they are now." I think that's an interesting point and one I agree with to a certain degree. I do believe, however, that it's the role and obligation of the agency to put the client view of their brands into the context of the consumer more. The fact is they know their brand inside out and where it sits in the market. But one role I love to discuss is where that brand sits in the mindset and daily life of a person. Of you. Of me. Of the bloke you sat next to on the bus earlier. Because you can bet your life the bloke you sat next to on the bus doesn't care as much about your client's brand as your client thinks he does. (I call this client perspective Brand Blindness, and it's totally natural. Agency types are the same - when you spend so much time focusing on one thing it's easy to lose perspective on the bigger picture. So, sorry everyone, that Aurasma thing you did in Shoreditch that everyone was pinning on Pinterest? No-one outside of your bubble gives a shit - you're targeting people like you).
[Edited after Becky put me right about something I got wrong!]
- Build a relationship and establish trust -
This was the most compelling comment for me as it talks about longer term relationships and how building them benefits everyone. And although it may not please the GAD, this is about the client building relationships with people... creative people and strategic people. This allows for greater collaboration between agency and client and gives the client an insight into how the agency works. There's only so much that can happen if a client meets an Account Team member every time, and only meets creative and strategic thinkers when there's a key presentation. Apparently the 'Slag of all snacks' work up there only went through because the client had a good relationship with the creatives and he trusted their judgement. It's difficult to build that relationship when you rarely meet the client.
As I said, there isn't a magic formula for this, but I thought there was some interesting stuff in there. Thanks Becky.