I've said before that if you can avoid presenting to Clients, you should do so.
However, if you disagree with that, or if your Agency has a policy that Creatives present the creative work, then how should you go about doing it?
The process of presenting to Clients breaks down into two phases – ‘in the room’, and ‘before you go into the room’.
Before you go into the room, you should be marshalling the best reference you can. But don’t show too much. I have seen Creatives present five separate pieces of reference for a single press ad, saying “this one’s a reference for the colour palette but don’t look at the models, they’re not right, for the models you need to look at this other piece of reference, but don’t look at the lighting on that one, for the lighting we have this other shot…” Very confusing. Keep the reference simple, and try to find one or two pieces that say everything you want to say.
Rehearse with the account team what issues may come up. Rehearse your presentation as many times as you need to.
Make sure you know the names of the Clients before you go in. People like to be called by their names. Make sure you know who does what, so you don’t ask their research manager a question about the production budget, for example. And make sure you know who the key buyer is. Focus your energy on them, while not excluding the other people in the room.
Once in the room, presenting to the Client is very much like presenting to the account team. Plenty of preamble is needed. Much of the set-up may be done by the Planners and Account Handlers, but there may be some for you to do too. For important projects, you may even need to make a mood film.
Don’t treat any of this lightly, thinking that your ‘real job’ is to come up with the ideas. The most successful Creatives aren’t just the ones who are good at coming up with ideas, they’re good at selling them too.
And to sell an idea, nothing convinces more than conviction itself.
Perhaps the most famous poster ever produced in the UK was ‘Labour Isn’t Working’, created by Saatchi & Saatchi for the Conservative Party in 1979. Those three words, above a simple shot of people queuing at an unemployment office, added up to a piece of communication that is generally considered to have been a significant factor in Margaret Thatcher’s first election victory.
However, what is less well-known is that when the concept was first presented to Mrs Thatcher, she didn’t like it. “This poster advertises Labour”, she told Maurice Saatchi. “On the contrary, Margaret,” he replied. “It demolishes them.”
One of the reasons I love that story is that I just love the word “demolishes.” But the real lesson here is Maurice Saatchi’s conviction. When a Client looks at a concept, they first look for what is wrong with it. If they can't find anything wrong with it, they begin to suspect it may be right, but what they don’t know is ‘how right’. And here, the most important factor that can sway them is your conviction. You have to tell them that this ad is going to be great. You have to tell them that it won’t just hurt the competition, it will demolish them.
Creatives are often accused of being arrogant, and of ‘talking-up’ their own work. Well, you have to. Whether your ad gets made or not may depend on how much you seem to believe in it.
How To Know If You've Had An Idea; How To Use Social Media; How To Get The Best Out Of Directors; Don't Write Ads, Write Strategies; How To Choose Where To Work; Working Outside London; What Would John Webster Do?; What Would Paul & Nigel Do?; The Hidden Flaw; How To Write Copy; Be Funny All The Way Through; How To Do Virals; How To Negotiate Your Salary; How To Get A Pay Rise; Be Wary Of Punding; Challenge The Brief; Tell The Truth; Playing To Lose; How To Write Headlines; How To Do Direct; How To Do Radio; How To Do Press; How To Do TV; How To Do Digital; How To Do Posters; Look At Weird Shit; Why You Shouldn't Present To The Client; Presenting To The Team; Presenting To The Creative Director; How To Deal With Rejection; Look Creative; Don't Be Afraid To Ask; Your Idea Has To Be 120%; Read Iain's Tips; Don't Behave; How To Discuss Ideas; Read Hugh's Tips; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job; How To Turn A Placement Into A Job (Ed Morris view); How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7); How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ; Make Friends With Traffic; Get Reference; Don't Stop Too Soon; Be Very; Breaking Up; Working Well With Your Partner; Finding The Right Partner; How To Approach Agencies; Never-Seen-Before Footage; Dicketts' Finger; Two Blokes In The Pub; Play Family Fortunes; Should You Take A Bad Job?; Don't Overpolish