Digital marketers spend a lot of time pitching new ideas — to their clients, to their bosses, to their own teams. And that’s a good thing. New ideas are what make this industry such an interesting place to be.
That said, for an industry that revolves around the art of the pitch, some of us are quite bad at it. We say inappropriate things. We stick our feet in our mouths. We back ourselves into corners. We put other people in the room on the defensive.
Whether you’re trying to sell a client on an innovative marketing concept or introducing a new idea to your internal team, the words you use are vital. And saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can shut down a roomful of open minds in an instant.
If you’re trying to sell your great idea, don’t let these words come out of your mouth.
“The way we’ve been doing this is ridiculous.”
The above statement very well might be true. In fact, it probably is. Especially if you’re pitching an internal process change, there’s a good chance that your idea sprang from existing inefficiencies or ridiculous practices. And it can be very tempting to open your pitch by pointing this out. But before you do, stop and think a moment.
Odds are, the person responsible for that ridiculous way of doing things is sitting in the room with you. Or, even if the person responsible for the genesis of the ridiculousness isn’t there, the people who have been executing on the existing protocol probably are. And if you attack their ideas or, worse, the way they do their jobs, they’re very likely to go on the defensive. And that’s not going to work out for anyone.
So, rather than point out how silly the current processes are, point out how your idea improves on current processes — and makes everybody’s jobs easier and more productive.
“No one has ever done this before.”
Being first is exciting. And when you have an idea that you think is novel, it’s tempting to want to brag about how original your thought process is. But slow down there, tiger. Although being first is exciting, it’s also scary — especially to clients, who have to have some sort of precedent for believing that an idea might actually work.
So, even if your idea does break a lot of new ground, don’t make that the focal point of your pitch. Rather, describe the idea and point to examples of companies that have done something similar — even if only vaguely similar — and explain why your idea is even better. Being cleverly iterative is a much easier sell than being recklessly innovative.