The feel of the wheel seals the deal…

Advertising and marketing sales is an art. I recently came across a post on Craigslist where a creative director had to be skilled at ‘pitching a project’. Wow! Nail on head. While it’s understood that as a director you need to be skilled at designing, project management and have a broad understanding of creative ‘business’, very few creative people understand the business of being creative.

Note; the order of words is very important.

No business can survive without sales and as a manager or director of some sort, it’s imperative that you understand not just sales; but more importantly account management. It’s not enough to just ‘do what the client asks’ but as a director in a position of expert authority, you need to be suggesting what a client SHOULD be doing…or as the post put it, ‘pitch a project’.

Sales cannot survive without marketing or advertising, but really, marketing and advertising doesn’t move forward without sales. It’s a very classic chicken-egg situation.

As an advertising or marketing professional, remember to act like a car salesman. Yup. I said it. I mean it. A car salesman knows that if he gets a customer into a car, many unspoken things start to sway a client. It’s the same for advertising and marketing. Better done in person, and have something to hand over for them to touch, feel, and study.

Impressing a customer or client by putting something in their hands is like offering a sample piece of chocolate to a kid in a candy store. They begin to imagine the way their photographs will look on the cover of a magazine or on outdoor advertising, pushing the idea of coated matte on 100lb paper suddenly conveys luxury (and the corresponding uptick in price points), and they begin to see why you charge that enormous hourly fee…(and on the downside, why you aren’t worth the guy next door). When you put something in a customer or clients’ hands…all of a sudden, the service or product has value. The price attached is worth dishing out because their senses have been reached.

Realtors love to stage a home because guests have a hard time imagining what it would look like with their furniture in place. If they can get clients to emotionally attach their belongings into the space, the house is more likely to sell. The same goes for cars: if the customer gets in and they feel the smooth ride, touch the technology of the dash and feel the seats they are less likely to challenge the price tag and more likely to think about financing options.

In advertising and marketing, managers and directors often forget that samples are imperative to selling a project. They assume that they are selling a service and there’s no need to shove ‘product’ in front of a client, but they underestimate the ability to conceptualize. Digital is a force to be reckoned, but print still has power to influence imagination.

The ability to produce something that a client can touch or feel also instills immediate trust. They now are looking at your marketing or advertising campaign and your project pitch as something that is concrete with follow-through. It has suddenly gone from a bullet list on a paper to something that carries meaning: this postcard is mailed, this ‘printed’ page is my email, this page is my outdoor advertising board, oh, this is what my ad will look like. They now know that it isn’t just imagination of your creating, it is actually capable of happening.

Next, be prepared to answer questions and to ‘speak as spoken to’.

Understand that many clients walking through the door may not understand terms and differences like SEO versus SEM. You aren’t impressing anyone by throwing out ‘smart’ terms. Explain what it is you’ll be doing and how each piece of the project will HELP their business. That’s exactly what a car guy does. When you get in the car and go for a test drive he explains WHY the four wheel drive is important to you in the middle of a Michigan winter, or he runs through the wifi connections if he knows you are a business traveller. The goal is to connect your client with something they NEED. As a salesman, you have to explain why they may need more features than they were initially thinking, but you also have to listen and make sure you’re giving them the things they truly are needing and not just filling them with bullsh!t. That’s when you begin to lose credibility. Don’t sell them something they aren’t going to utilize. The idea is to get them coming back for more, and eventually they MIGHT need more services and products. If you scare them away by shoving too much in their face that they don’t need, you’re not giving them a chance to come back for a second round. And trust me…you want them to come back for seconds.

Nothing comes on stronger than proof. Go into the project pitch prepared!