Why Presenting a Few Great Ideas is Better Than Lots of Ideas

Why Presenting a Few Great Ideas is Better Than Lots of Ideas

Many ad agencies and creative firms are wonderful at creating ideas. However, many of those same agencies are very poor at presenting and selling their creative ideas. Even more important is a human tendency to become confused when we offer too many choices.

Hick’s Law: The time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increases.

This plays out in many areas of our busy lives, from shopping at the grocery store in an era of product extensions (I just want plain old Cheerios!), to airline pilots having to push the right alarm button on an array with far too many other buttons (with a plane-full of passengers whose lives may be at stake).

While choosing a creative execution falls somewhere between annoying and life-threatening, it still pays to remember that fewer great choices is always better than too many average-to-good choices when presenting your ideas to clients.

Make Clients’ Creative Choices Simpler

Learning to simplify the decision process for clients can greatly improve your success in presenting and selling your great creative work.

  • Always have a creative brief stating the client’s objective and the reason why. (Why this objective? Why is it important? Is it the real solution to a client problem?)
  • Aim for a strong, single message—too many messages actually reduces recall, and lessens the retention of any single message.


Removing Reservations, Reducing Risk

Derek L. Walker of brown and browner advertising, Columbia, SC, and TheDrum, noted on Twitter that “Sometimes the absolute best thing a leader can do for an idea is leave it alone, and move to remove the obstacles to it becoming reality. Our job is very seldom about ‘fixing’ an idea, it is clearing the field. Client-side folks, this includes you, too.”

In response, Harrisburg, PA, creative James A. Madsen said, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”

If your client is risk-averse (and who isn’t?). assess risk as part of your research and show how the creative work reduces risk.

Hick’s Law applies across many disciplines, not just to selling ideas. Consider its implications for user experience design (UX), wayfinding signage, process or system design, etc. Train your people in simplifying not just the idea, but how you present, so clients climb aboard and embrace your idea.


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