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Why Your Creative Director Should Pitch New Business

I recently read a great article from DesignWeek, stating that an agency creative director may be the best person to “sell” to new business prospects. Here’s why in a nutshell:

“The creative director is best placed to start and continue a conversation because of their perspective, hovering above the work and the business problem and seeing the connections between the two.”

This is a great way to describe what agency creative people bring to the table!

Every day, creative directors and art directors are handed briefs with client problems. If they’re lucky, they may also receive further input from account executives who ask clients the right questions. Maybe they also receive a pile of customer research with the account planner’s tidy summary highlighting some findings. From these, the creative person must formulate an approach or strategy that will solve the problem in the brief.

Because the creative person sits at that point between the problem and the insight, they are truly privy to both ends of the conversation—the client’s need, and the executable, targeted strategy.

“Wait a minute,” you may say. “If we invite creatives into the new business pitch, they’ll only talk about the beautiful fonts they’ve selected, why Pantone 256 looks different on coated vs. uncoated paper, or their cool idea for animating the banner ad.”

To engage a new business prospect, you need to be able to explain a strategy and how it will motivate a customer to respond to an ad. Too often, the critical “how does it work” part of the creative process is not addressed during the pitch.  The new business developer, focused on selling, talks about research insights or making a proposal. This is why it’s important to carefully select creative people who will assist with new business. You want the thoughtful types who can separate the minutiae of the design process from the “big idea” thinking behind the concept.

Look for creative people with the following characteristics:

Confidence. They converse as comfortably with C-suite people as with co-workers.

Clarity. They can reduce complex ideas into the simplest statements, without jargon.

Client focus. Serving the client’s need always takes precedence.

Credibility. They can identify with the client’s perspective and talk intelligently about client concerns.

Creativity. They bring new thinking to old problems, not just going back to “what worked before.”

Collaboration. They are open to change and debate, listen to client concerns, and always look for the solution that best serves the client.

Conviction. When they know an idea is the right idea, they will argue for it, reasonably, rationally and convincingly.

These seven C’s of creative selling can shift a sales call to a relationship. The creative process is about the connection between client need and customer engagement. Think about whether your creative director or top-tier art directors might make good pitch people. And think harder about integrating that connective conversation into new business development, as well as client relationships.

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