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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Big ideas are not born survivors

You’ve nailed the brief and have a killer idea. Job done. Err, not quite. It can still stall if it’s not sold to the client with conviction…

Time after time I've seen award-winning ideas retreat to a creative's top draw and wait to die. Mine is full of past victims. Simply put, they weren't sold well enough to the client.

Persuading a client to run a campaign can be a bigger challenge than solving the brief. Great ideas are original. Which can make them unfamiliar and scary. And in my agency, just because a client has asked for a print mailer, this doesn't mean they get a print mailer. 

From the brief I need a good single-minded proposition - the golden chalice. I also need a sound understanding of the client's business problem. A print mailer can soon become an integrated campaign across multiple channels if that better answers the brief. Strategy and insight are the keys to behaviour-changing ideas. But presenting work the client hasn't asked for can be risky. Particularly if you're also asking for a larger budget. What's needed is a selling strategy that's not left to the account guys, but involves the creative team directly.

Increasingly I find myself selling work to client. Not because account handlers can't be trusted. I know many who are fantastic. But because it's my work, and I'm convinced it's right. Mix passion with conviction and you're very persuasive. I've also noticed that clients generally like to meet creatives. Strangely, some get rather excited. Maybe they like seeing the guys who bring their brand to life. Or perhaps it's because we dress better than account handlers. Either way it's a good thing. Relationships are built, which vitally, gains trust. A client will never be certain an idea you present to them is right. But a familiar creative team telling them it's right can be highly convincing. 

Working in the healthcare sector means even more reason to frequently put me, a copywriter, in front of the client. We adhere to strict medical guidelines, so on top of presenting creative I'm expected to discuss specific medical issues. Even so, my approach is always the same. Keep it simple. I'll take the client on a journey of our thinking. This helps to prepare the ground when you lead them to a place they weren't expecting. With good justification, the client won't be upset when they don't see the print mailer they asked for. In fact, they'll thank you when your solution answers their need in a better way than they were expecting.

If you can achieve this, the chances of your fresh ideas getting made move a lot closer. Good creatives don't just come up with great ideas. They can sell them too. Then they grab the shoe polish and wait for awards night.

Article by
Andy James

creative group head, Frontera. He can be contacted at

28th May 2013

From: Marketing



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