Saving The Best For Last – Does It Work In Creative Presentations?

There is a long held agency belief that saving your best work for last makes the strongest creative presentation.

The hope is to build anticipation through the presentation so when you get to the highlight, they’ll buy it.

Then the meeting will finish on a high and your client will skip away feeling like they got their money’s worth.

If that’s your agency’s approach, it might be worth challenging tradition.

Why it doesn’t work
When you’re presenting, if your first piece misses on some element of the message, if they think it isn’t quite on brand or it lacks entertainment value, your client’s internal chatter starts immediately.

They begin to work out their feedback to improve your piece. They, come up with a raft of reasons why it won’t work and what it will take to fix it, including a few extra objections in case the agency pushes back.

Before you even get to your second execution, your client’s mind has begun to work overtime.

They wonder if their brief wasn’t clear, they question if you really understand their brand, they worry you won’t meet their media dates.

In the midst of all this mental chatter, you show them your second creative idea, which is still not your best work.

If this one doesn’t knock their socks off, it will increase their anxiety and they will be working out how to fix either one of the two scripts and considering a re-brief.

By the time you get to the third script, your favourite which totally nails it on every front, your client just feels sick relief when it’s good.

Then they will still run though the list of objections they’ve voiced earlier to check that none apply. Not quite the enthusiasm the agency had hoped for.

How do I know?
I spent 5 years running Account Management for the internal agency of a major UK Broadcaster. Because we were internal, our clients were also our colleagues. We went to the same canteen for lunch and sat in the same meetings with our Channel Heads.

I took advantage of that situation to ask my clients how they felt about the presentations, not the work but the presentation, the flow, the format, the interaction.

What they said changed the way we presented and helped us get approvals more quickly, with a lot less stress on both sides.

Turn your presentation on its head
If you start with your most sale-able execution, either the one you think is your strongest or the one they are most likely to buy, then your clients can relax immediately.

They know they have one in the bag that they like; it solves their brief and hit their deadline, so their internal chatter goes way down.

As you present the second execution, they evaluate it against the first and it reinforces just how good the first one is. They do this naturally, mentally comparing if it is as clear as the first one, as entertaining, as convincing?

As they mentally tick the boxes, in their comparison, they rationally understand why the first idea was so strong.

With the second execution, the client’s head isn’t full of internal chatter and they don’t feel a desperate need to “fix the problems”, because they have already seen an idea that they are prepared to buy.

Pushing their boundaries
If you are presenting the traditional three executions, you might have one that you know the client will buy and another that you’d really like them to take a chance on.

Since you’ve built up good will, this is your opportunity to take a leap with your third execution.

Because your client knows they have one that works, they’re more patient with an edgy execution; they’ll listen to something they might consider risky.

If this is the one you really want them to buy, use their previous comments on what they’ve liked or not, to help them understand why you’d like them to choose this final piece.

However, if your agency believes the first work you presented is the rock star, then use the third slot to continue to build the comparison and reinforce that first one.

Sometimes an agency wants to test the client’s appetite for risk or show off their creative diversity, if that’s your goal the third slot is the place to do it.

Because your clients are content with what they’ve got, this third idea becomes the icing on the cake.

Starting with your best work still ends the meeting on a high.

You’ll have shown your expertise and given them a choice, carefully curated to get them to the right answer.

Tell us about your experiences pitching, jot a note in the box below.


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