Big Ideas – Part I
My first thought was that it was unfair to expect anyone to express a big idea in a limited amount of time, especially 180 seconds or less. And then I thought about it a little more and concluded that – like it or not – this is probably a fair representation of the current landscape.
Traditionally, media has always been the graveyard shift of a pitch or presentation. And Interactive seems to fit in at the tail end of this section - in about 3 minutes or less.
We don’t have to look too far back to see the similarity with the Elevator Pitch used by so many dot-coms to get the scarce attention of the nearest VC. I spent two months doing the VC-scene, trying to sell what I thought was a great idea to a bunch of dollar-infested investors. I remember the frustration in trying to verbalize a big idea in nanoseconds to people only listening for and interested in the bottom line (sour grapes duly noted.)
But hindsight is 20/20 and now I am more pragmatic about balancing my ideals with a healthy dose of realism. I’ve learned some invaluable lessons along the way to help sell big ideas to our clients.
For starters, it’s imperative to know our audience. Clients are spread as thin as agencies and publishers. Across the board, we’re faced with constricting budgets and increased responsibilities. Now, more than ever, our challenge is to make our marketing dollars work that much harder; to achieve value stretch, whereby we earn back $3 in value for every $1 we spend/invest.
But what’s the most precious commodity right now? It’s not money - it’s time. As challenging as this might seem to frame a big idea in 3 slides or less, or even harder, 3 lines or less, it’s what’s needed at times in order to credibly sell ourselves. Many argue that any big idea should be able to be powerfully and succinctly communicated during a typical elevator ride.
There are many ways to do this. Visualization and animation helps immeasurably in terms of walking the audience through a detailed and multi-faceted idea.
Another way is to frame the conversation using terms that clients are familiar and comfortable with. Give credit to Sergio Zyman in terms of defining marketing as “convincing people to come back more often to buy more and be willing to pay more.” Demonstrate or highlight interactive’s ability to help achieve part or all of Zyman’s definition, and you’re well on your way.
Following on from this thought is another idea, which on the surface runs completely contrary to the role that technology plays and its potential to forever change the way we live, work and play. Going back to the fundamentals is arguably the most powerful way of selling new media. Instead of showcasing what’s changed, spotlight what hasn’t.
Here’s an example: PVR’s (personal video recorders like TiVO) threaten to forever alter the way we watch TV. Wednesday night’s West Wing could quite conceivably become Saturday morning’s West Wing. Selling advertising under these conditions doesn’t sound too appealing. But there is a fundamental truism, which helps ground the hype. It’s the Water Cooler effect. Whilst watching President Bartlett on our own terms seems attractive enough, we still might want to be able to talk about it with our colleagues the next day.
Conversations like this reassure clients that while we’re aware of the what’s coming down the pike, we’re not going to jump head first into the unknown, forsaking what we’ve done really well up to this point in time. Instead, a scenario anywhere between dipping our toes into the waters and merging the best of the old with the best of the new, provides a much more stable proposition to a client looking to lead where others are still waiting on the sidelines.
- Joseph Jaffe is Director of Interactive Media at TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York, where he works with clients including Kmart, ABSOLUT Vodka, New York City Public Schools, Embassy Suites and Sci-Fi. His primary focus is to highlight interactive's value and benefit in meeting his clients' integrated business and branding objectives.