Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday Tip No.29 - How To Present Your Work To Clients

"Your idea... it is shit"

Don't.

I really mean it.

I don't care what they do in America, or at Mother. I am a firm believer that Creatives should NOT present their work to Clients.

Here's my 5 reasons why:

1. It's very hard for a Client to say directly to the person who had an idea: "I don't like it." Normally, and quite understandably, they will pretend they like it in the meeting, then call the account team a couple of days later and say: "Actually I don't like it." So you just wasted your time. And theirs.

2. Going to a meeting to present creative work takes half a day. Always. Time you could be having ideas in. Or surfing the internet.

3. Most account people are more charming and more articulate than most creatives. So why have the creatives do the presenting? It's just silly. Get people doing what they're best at. You wouldn't ask Michael Owen to play in goal, would you? No.

4. Account people are experienced at resisting the onslaught of Client comments. Whereas I'm told it's well-known amongst account handlers that a lot of Creatives when faced with Client comments simply fold up like sofabeds.

5. The more time you spend with a Client, the more you will get to know their business problems, their day-to-day concerns and all that malarkey. This is not always a good thing. You're a Creative, and you need to sit outside that. You need to have a general understanding of it all, and yet sit aloof from it. How else can you give them a fresh perspective? Plus you might have to eat in their canteen.

That's it. If you can avoid presenting to Clients, do so.

Tip No.28 - Presenting Your Work To The Team
Tip No.27 - Presenting Your Work To The Creative Director
Tip No.26 - How To Deal With Rejection
Tip No.25 - Look Creative
Tip No.24 - Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Tip No.23 - Your Idea Has To Be 120%
Tip No.22 - Read Iain's Tips
Tip No.21 - Don't Behave
Tip No.20 - How To Discuss Ideas
Tip No.19 - Read Hugh's Tips
Tip No.18 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job
Tip No.17 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7)
Tip No.16 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together
Tip No. 15 - How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ
Tip No. 14 - Make Friends With Traffic
Tip No. 13 - Get Reference
Tip No. 12 - Don't Stop Too Soon
Tip No.11 - Be Very
Tip No.10 - Breaking Up
Tip No.9 - Working Well With Your Partner
Tip No.8 - Finding The Right Partner
Tip No.7 - How To Approach Agencies
Tip No.6 - Never-Seen-Before Footage
Tip No.5 - Dicketts' Finger
Tip No.4 - Two Blokes In The Pub
Tip No.3 - Play Family Fortunes
Tip No.2 - Should You Take A Bad Job?
Tip No.1 - Don't Overpolish

28 comments:

Rachel Clarke said...

I've got another one. A creative may get to attached to their work and vision and if faced with criticism they can take it too personally and start arguing back. I've seen it turn off clients a few times.

Anonymous said...

This is the first of your tips that I disagree with, Scamp. By presenting directly to a client you start a relationship with them that can be used to cut through account and planning bullshit. In my experience, the passion you show for an idea can win a client over. And as for the the creatives 'folding' or 'arguing back' – well, perhaps they should grow up a bit. Criticism is part of our working lives. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Or, the creative could grow up and present his or her work as only they can and learn to deal with the real world.

Anonymous said...

Creatives arguing back? Appalling!

Heaven forbid that the client should have their illogical and irrelevant criticisms interrogated.

Waldemar said...

'Or surfing the internet.' the best argument of all of them.
seriously, presenting to clients is tricky. we only did it once in front of a big audience, what we learnt from it? that we need better presenting skills and a proper account handler would have sold that idea better. never gonna happen again.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1.05pm: In my experience, the passion you show for an idea can win a client over. Give me an example of this working in your experience please. let's see if it's a great piece of work we're talking about. I thought this tip would get this kind of response. I'm with Scamp 90% on this one. I reserve my 10% for those creatives who WANT and are comfortable to present their own work. But forcing them (or even the CD) to do something which doesn't come naturally is wrong and is really a cop out by account people who should take on the task

Anonymous said...

previous anon. great creative gets sold by (gasp!) creatives to clients all the time. i've done it. many others have. happens all the time.

presenting doesn't "come naturally" to anyone. it's selling. selling is hard. but it's a huge part of being a grown up creative.

Anonymous said...

This is probably the single biggest reasion why there's less great creative work around these days: Instead of spending their time where it's most productive - on generating wonderful original ideas creatives are in meetings presenting to clients - doing what account people used to do so brilliantly. And don't accuse me of being old fashioned and tell me things have changed and we need to move on. Yes things have changed but not for the better in this respect

daily biz said...

In a lot of ways I agree with Scamp - I have felt at times that I am too close to a client to have any sort of creative idea. I know what they want and, almost subconsciously, I find myself going to safe alternatives.

Then I shoot rubber bands at people in the office, or something equally as ridiculous and mind-clearing and I feel better.

But there are also reasons to want that client relationship - like extending creativity beyond traditional advertising and into product innovation, supply chain (avoiding a gap situation, for example), and the like.

The right decision might depend on the client, it might depend on the creative and, to be fair, it might be obvious and I just haven't figure it out yet:

http://dailybiz.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/how-much-client-contact-makes-you-uncreative/

Stan Lee said...

Sorry Scamp, but your rule only applies if the agency hires the very best suits. Anything less and it's grey hair and tantrums for you I'm afraid.

Master of muppets said...

would you trust an architect to build your home without even meeting him? or a doctor won't meet you before he operates?

I believe the less contact you have with a client, the less understanding you have of a brand's problems.

You say it helps you provide "fresh approach", I say that's why so many advertising ideas are just random and unrelated shit.

Anyway, nice post. Polarizing posts are great.

Anonymous said...

What does anyone from Mother think?

Anonymous said...

I think anon 2.15 got it right, creatives should only present to client if they want to. However, in my opinion, it's a great skill set to have. I find, on the whole clients enjoy having access to creatives. After all, creative is the fun bit and being exposed to the enthusiasm only the creator can have for the work can be infectious. But it has to be managed well and what I mean by that is that it isn't about the creative doing the suits job. It's about creative and suit working together in the meeting to get a result.

There's another interesting side issue to this too. the creative is the most disposable individual in an agency because of the lack of client access. If a key creative vanishes overnight (because the agency needs to reduce overhead etc) the client is none the wiser, wheras they have to think twice about disposing of an account person or a planner because they have to consider 'the relationship'. Call me cynical, but my advice to any talented young creative would be - brush up on those presentation skills.

Anonymous said...

What does Richard Huntington think? Should the planner be in the room when the creatives are presenting the work to the client - or will they be too busy down at the editors? Aren't we all just in danger of doing each others jobs here?

Anonymous said...

A client asked me in a PPM once, what my creative vision for the ad was? I had no idea what he was talking about so I asked him what he meant and he flew off the handle and started shouting at me but I don't think he knew what a creative vision was either because he didn't explain.

Can anyone help me? What is a creative vision? In case anyone asks me again. Can it mean whatever you want it to mean?

Anonymous said...

A creative vision is Rosie Arnold in Agent Provocateur undies

Toad said...

Once clients have had creatives present to them, it's hard to convince them to go back.

Too many of them (at least here in the US) like to imagine that they're one of the gang and intimately involved in the creative process.

And while in theory I agree with Scamp, that theory is predicated on having top notch account people who can add some theater to the presentation. Those types are becoming increasingly rarer as we've discussed previously due to changes in the industry that send the "best and brightest" elsewhere in search of more money and more respect.

Anonymous said...

I've been presenting my work – and that of others – for 17 years. Never did me any harm. And this year we've won 85% of our pitches (so far) and each one had a creative presenting (usually me).

Toad said...

You know, I just thought of another strong argument in favor of your theory Scamp:

Being able to present effusively has made the career of many a hack.

We all know the type. They wax loudly and enthusiastically about the client's product during meetings. Present awful scripts with much theatricality, scripts they swear will make the client "famous."

The client is blown away that ANYone is that zealous about their product -- far more zealous than they are themselves-- and the hack quickly becomes their favorite creative and #1 go-to person.

And thus an undeserving career is born.

Toad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

If our only involvement in the process should only be coming up with ideas, then not only planners should be banned at the editing suite, creatives too.

In fact, we don't even should be at the shoot. I mean, the specialist there is the Director, right? and the producer. They both have a script. They don't need us.

And for those deeply concerned with productivity, you definitely lose more than half a day on a shoot.

Sorry, but this puts in danger our hard earned right to free travel, food, booze and strip clubs at exotic locations.

Anonymous said...

Trouble is J, everyone has different agendas. The director wants to make a lovely peice of film. The producer doesn't want to go over budget. The client, well, we all know what they want. The only person looking out for the idea is the creative team, and for that reason not having them on the shoot or in the edit suite would be one more nail in the coffin for ideas.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9.37: "The only person looking out for the idea is the creative team" Absolutely spot on – which is why you should be able to present it!

Anonymous said...

If creatives present what will account people actually do?

Anonymous said...

In fact, creatives shouldn't even get out of bed. All that time wasted brushing teeth and riding the tube when we could be having more great ideas!

Terrible. If it's not worth your time to take a cab across town and stand up for your work, it sure as hell isn't worth the next four months it'll take to produce it.

Anonymous said...

You're just a twat. you really shoudn't be alowed to work somewhere that involves creativity and ideas.

I'd say go to your desk and think that you couldn't exist without us, but we could exist without you

Anonymous said...

Good advice! Plus anything that saves us from that uncomfortable task hehe...

Anonymous said...

However, I wonder: what can you do (as a creative), when you're not confident enough in the abilities of the account that represents you? I foudn myself in a meeting once with an Account manager that mumbled my ideas, instead of selling them and I had to take charge because I could see the client fussing about in his chair. And I sold those ideas. What do you do then? When a Creative is a better seller than an Account?