Pitching The Big Idea

When media buyers are asked how great ad reps are different, they consistently tell us that the best reps bring them, “big ideas.”

When Internet ad reps are invited to talk about their selling frustrations, many report that they have no success getting buyers to listen to “out-of-the-box ideas.”

Where’s the disconnect? Buyers want creative ideas… sellers love to sell creative and original concepts… but neither group is satisfied with how it is all working.

There are no simple answers (if there were, it wouldn’t require any creativity at all!), but there are some guidelines for successfully pitching the big ones.

First, think about the meaning of the phrase, “a big idea.” It’s easy to imagine that those three words mean different things to different people. Make sure you find out what your customer has in mind before you invest all your creative juices in a breakthrough concept.

If the creative is already designed, approved and ready to produce, then those big ideas may be limited to interesting placements on your site. If you walk in with a 12 part sponsored content program, you are likely to get a dim reception. Alternately, if the agency wants to expose the client to really customized uses of a site that coordinates with a larger marketing strategy, your offer of a big banner buy will not be seen as very original.

Before you invest your time and energy mocking up really new concepts, find out how far out of that box the buyer is looking to go. Find out (from the buyer or from your own detective work) what the marketing objectives are for the buy, and what “creativity” has meant to this agency and this client at other times. One person’s wildly original is another’s ho-hum. Make sure you know your buyer’s view of things.

By the way, getting to know the buyer’s view does not stop with the media planner. There are many decision makers in any ad buy – the more different and out-there, the more likely it is that many levels at both client and agency will have a say in the final implementation. Know who’s involved and make sure you address the range of needs they represent.

The bigger the idea, the higher up the ladder you ought to take it. For really big ideas, don’t leave it to the media department alone (although they are your first and most important point of contact…).

If you are suggesting specific creative implementations, talk to the creative team, too. If your idea has marketing strategy implications, talk with the account team and the client advertising or marketing group. If the idea has promotional elements, involve the promotions manager, too.

Think about whose interests and responsibilities your concept touches, and get their buy-in and input. Great ideas are usually a joint effort, not a one shot sales pitch.

You want to bag the big sales, sell the original implementations, be the hero with your clients and your site management? Take the time to build an offering that really fills a need, and then to discuss that need and your solution with the various members of the decision-making team, and your hero status is assured.

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