How to convince clients to give you work

Sadly, it’s not as easy as simply writing a clickbait headline, it takes a rather more considered approach… resulting most likely in a pitch presentation.

As a creative agency, one of the fundamental commodities you have to offer any client are your ideas.

Blue sky, upside-down, out of the box, brand new ideas.

Now, unless you are lucky enough to have a stack of unseen ideas ready to work for any solution sitting by your desk, chances are you’re going to have to come up with a new one.

Ideas are funny old things. Some seem to come out of a flash of inspiration while others are finely crafted from vast amounts of research.

Many of them aren’t quite right and some of them are really bad, but eventually you get one that works… for everyone.

The trick is, making sure you find that idea before the deadline… and it all starts with a good brief.

 

 

Understand every aspect of the brief

Having a clear understanding of the clients’ objectives is paramount. Even if the client has supplied a brief, it should be analysed and re-briefed before sharing with the creative team. The time spent at this stage is invaluable.

A bad brief will at best, create unnecessary work and/or most likely lose you the pitch.

In order to avoid bad briefs, consider the following:

Why is the client doing this project in the first place?

A clear understanding the clients’ needs.

What’s required to meet the objectives?

The ‘fresh idea’ that feeds the output.

What’s the deadline? This applies to the project AND the presentation.

How much has the client got allocated for this project?

Share the brief with everyone

Once you’ve constructed your concise brief (try and keep it as short as possible), you are ready to share with the creative team. If time allows, share this with them in advance of an actual briefing meeting, as more often than not there will be additional questions raised.

When it comes to the ‘creative team’, I’m a firm believer of ‘the more, the merrier’. Share the brief with as many people as you can, irrespective of their position, experience or skill sets. You may limit this to a team of creative bods such as designers and copywriters, or expanded to account managers, production managers… even the receptionist.

Invite everyone to read the brief and for those not booked on the job, allow them to attend the briefing at the set date and time if possible.

These initial briefings cement an ‘every idea counts’ approach which, as well as giving everyone a sense of inclusion and opportunity, can create a direction that may have been missed.

Give ownership to small team

Following this, you may well be faced with a LOT of ideas to work with. Most likely too many and some may not be feasible or practical. This is where the responsibility for delivering the right solution sits with a much smaller team. The fewer people involved in creating the ‘Approach’ at this stage, the better. Additional conceptualising may be required or perhaps exploring further something that has been suggested at the briefing. But the key is to have a clear direction and give ownership to the designer(s) creating the work.

Once the pitch document has been created, it is a good idea to share it with everyone who attended the briefing. This again helps them feel included even if they had nothing to contribute, but ultimately it will thank anyone specifically for ideas that helped shape the chosen direction.

Allow the experts to present

When it comes to the day of the pitch, face-to-face presentations with core members of each team present has the best results. The Account Manager tends to have (or will have) the closest relationship with the client so will most likely lead the presentation. But when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of the creative approach they won’t be able to speak as naturally about it as the creative who worked on it. If the client has a specific question relating to a design detail, then the designer will be able to answer this straight away. The same goes for any other disciplines being presented.

Encourage clear feedback through conversation and showing adaptability

This also benefits the team in understanding the client’s reaction to the work presented… crystal clear feedback is worth its weight in Gold. It’s important to include the client on the journey of the presentation rather than dropping a big “SURPRISE” on them. Encourage conversation throughout the pitch and embrace a ‘working together’ philosophy, which may require adapting approaches to suit.

 

Let’s look at the core points again:

Understand every aspect of the brief

Share the brief with everyone

Give ownership to small team

Allow the experts to present

Encourage clear feedback through conversation and showing adaptability

Putting these points into action may not convince the client to award you the work (unfortunately there are many more variables at play), but at the very least it creates a level of transparency, collaboration and respect for both the agency and the client which is a pretty good place to start.

Written by

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Martin Lovegrove
Creative Director
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