How To Sell Your Ideas
A good creative should be happy to be involved in the entire process of an advertising campaign. They should be there at the start, taking the brief from the client, and they should most certainly be involved in the preparation of the agency brief. Being a creative isn’t just about shuffling pretty pictures and coming up with snappy headlines – it should also be about the marketing strategy, and the thinking and the planning. In short, a good creative should be a fully-rounded marketing professional.
Perfect Pitch, the first of our advertising book recommendations, is written by Jon Steel, one of the world’s best-known account planners. Planners, for those who don’t know, are usually employed by big advertising agencies who need to throw away more money on salaries. In smaller agencies, planners are there to make up for the quality of the creatives. That is, they do a kind of bridging job between account handlers and those creatives who believe that all that pesky strategy stuff is nothing to do with them and is somehow not related to the task of creating an advertising campaign.
Jon Steel is – or, rather, was – an extremely good planner. And also a very creative planner, involved in some fantastic campaigns. (Actually, rather than bang on about his experience here, I’ll refer you instead to his excellent book Truth, Lies and Advertising – a must-read for anyone in the ad industry.)
Perfect Pitch is subtitled ‘The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business’. Over the course of a number of individual chapters and case studies, Steel tells us, first of all, what’s wrong with most presentations and how they could be vastly improved. One of the easiest, and best, ways to do this is to stop using PowerPoint. Not just because it’s often full of dopey graphics and spelling mistakes, but because it makes both the presenter and the audience lazy and creates a real barrier between them. On their own, Steel’s funny, and entirely correct, rants about PowerPoint more than justify the price of the book.
Covering every aspect of the pitch process, Steel shares what is often, but often forgotten, commonsense advice on how to deliver good ideas in the best, and most creative, way possible. This includes things like the value of listening, the importance of research, on using presenters who are confident and, more importantly, likeable. The overall message of the book is basically that the purpose of a pitch is to win, not necessarily to be right.
To illustrate this Steel provides numerous examples of great pitches, such as: Johnny Cochrane’s masterful demolition of the prosecution in the OJ Simpson trial, Bill Clinton’s presidential debates, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King’s speeches and even the calling cards of a London prostitute. All highly entertaining and illuminating.
Right from the start of the book we know we’re being led to the final chapter which is about how the British Olympic team won the bid, against all the odds, to host the 2012 games in London. It was, as Steel makes plain, quite simply the perfect pitch – that is, they got absolutely everything right. As well as being inspiring and thrilling, the story, thanks in large part to Steel’s interpretation, is also incredibly moving. It’s the perfect way to end the book.
Perfect Pitch isn’t just for advertising people. It can be a manual for anyone who, at any time, needs to sell their ideas. So if you’re pitching a film, a game or even presenting your plans for the forthcoming WI Xmas party, this book will help you to do it properly. In fact, Steel illustrates this nicely by writing – again, quite movingly – about how he successfully proposed to his wife.
But if you don’t fancy going to the trouble of actually reading the book, you can vastly improve your own pitch successes by doing one simple thing: getting rid of the PowerPoint.
Perfect Pitch is available here, in hardback, for only £13.19.