Monday, May 05, 2014

The Confidence Thing

If you want to be good at pinball, it's not enough to be skillful with the flippers. You have to shove the machine a little bit. Not too much, or it'll 'tilt'. But a little bit.

Similarly, to be successful in a field as competitive as advertising it's not enough to be good at writing ads. There are all kinds of little things you need to do, to give yourself an advantage.

And perhaps the most important of them is to display confidence.

N.B. not too much, because over-confidence translates into arrogance, and that's a negative.

But a healthy dose of confidence... makes a difference.

What a lot of creatives don't realise is how thin the line is between a creative director saying "yes" and saying "go again." Even the most experienced creative director is not always 100% sure whether an idea is good or not, and a team that throws in a little comment at just the right time, like "we think this could be really funny" or "no one's ever really done anything like this before" can help get your work over that line.

And the same goes double for clients. Most clients have an excellent understanding of the kind of work that will be right for their brand. But they're not judging creative work every single day, like creative directors are. So when they look at work, they're not just looking at whether it's right, they're looking at whether the person who is presenting it, believes in it.

Everyone is human, and everyone is influenced by the attitudes of others.

Clients hire agencies because we're experts at making ads. And like anyone hiring an expert, they want to feel that the expert is confident they know what they're doing.

Always have a recommendation. Always say why you think it's right. And always present with belief.

Because if you don't believe in your work, who else will?


Darren said...

Fine line between confidence and arrogance

derek said...

Nice one.

Scamp said...

Darren - yes it is.

We all need to tailor our personal style, to stay on the right side of the line.

Though interestingly, I would suggest that if it came down to a choice, you'd probably be better off being arrogant than unconfident.

There are more than a few successful people in our business who are arrogant, but not many who are unconfident.

(Just for total clarity, I am not recommending arrogance).

joe said...

There are a few fine lines.
I've known a CD who'd get frustrated if you were over-selling it. His look said "I'll be the judge of whether or not it is a good idea, thanks."
Unfortunately, learning each CD you work with, and how you can play them, seems a key part of the job.

Scamp said...

Joe that's true. But you can show confidence in your work in ways other than just saying "it's great". If you believe in an idea, put love and care into how you write it up. Find the perfect reference, the perfect track...

Jason Lonsdale said...

Your comment about client's judging work based on the conviction of the presenter is bang on the money... reminds me of the William Goldman adage about Hollywood, explaining why expensive turkeys get green lights and quirky indie films can make massive box office: "nobody knows anything"

Jamie said...

Great post.

Gets me thinking though - what about the situations when you get in front of clients with diluted ideas or work that you no longer fully believe in?

This can happen for countless reasons in the process between taking a brief and presenting.

And with this in mind, is it more about confident presenting rather than belief in ideas?

Anonymous said...

Also there are the occasions when you use your confidence to get something through and then it turns out to be shit.

Anonymous said...

the line between confidence and arrogance is valid only if you take form over content.
so, it's childish.
(yeah, I know - many CD's are ego-maniacal power-abusing wankers).

Justin Butler said...

This is literally the first thing I wrote when I got into advertising. Rather than confidence, I think it's more just self belief, convincing yourself first.