In the last post (here), I listed the five most common responses I get when presenting idea – but left out the most difficult client response to answer: “That’s not creative.”
It’s extremely difficult to refute a response based entirely on the abstract. Unlike flour, blood pressure, earthquakes, synesthesia and waist lines, there’s no standardised measurement of creativity. Yet, I’ve found that pretty everybody agrees that all ideas have some level of creativity – from 0 to 10 on a scale, for example – even if it might be impossible to quantify an exact amount.
But, there’s a way around this little problem. The solution is to present several ideas together, putting them in context with the others, in a tool I call the Creative Speedometer (see right).
At the end of the brainstorm (and more likely, after some honing of the ideas into ‘sellable ideas’), the team and I put the ideas along a continuum (Idea #1, Idea #2, etc.) on the outer green arc of the Speedometer. We put the safest and simplest ideas on the left and work our way around to the risky and heart-stopping ideas on the right. Yes, it’s a bit of an arbitrary exercise, but it doesn’t have to be. You can gauge your ideas in a number of ways: by budget, by amount of people potentially reached by the idea, by media reach, by attendees to an event, etc.
When we get to the presentation, we unveil the Speedometer first, explaining the continuum of creativity from mild to wild. Then, we ask the decision maker: Which idea would you like to see first?
First, the presentation is now in the control of the decision maker. Second, it positions all ideas in context of the others. Third, it gives the decision maker options. Fourth, it’s a great psychological tool, because you learn a lot about the decision maker by which idea they select first, and the order in which they pick the ideas. A decision maker that starts at the safest and works their way up is a completely different client than one who picks the riskiest first and works their way down.
The Speedometer is infinitely adaptable. For a pitch to a global restaurant chain, we changed the Speedometer to an oven dial. When he presented options for changes to a nursing society, we changed the Speedometer to a blood pressure monitor. For a launch of a new hair dye for women, it became the broadness of her husband’s smile. For a government tender, we used the size of a crowd – their constituents – who turned up to vote.
How else have you addressed the decision maker’s negativity in selling ideas?