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Great ideas don’t sell themselves

Published on July 9, 2019 Back to the trenches
Man Sharing Ideas Passionately

A few weeks ago, I was reviewing a presentation for a team who was going to share a big – and potentially “game-changing” – idea for a client. They were excited to share it and put together a deck that included a slew of great ways in which it could come to life, including executional details that they had thought through.  They put a ton of work into the presentation, along with lots of heart and soul.

However, as they presented to me, I found myself caught up in the weeds of the executions and quickly lost sight of the bigger picture. They made the idea so big that it became almost overwhelming. How could we do all of that?  Ultimately, when putting myself in the mindset of the client, I grew concerned that the same would happen in the meeting and the idea would get killed.   

 The reality is that coming up with the idea is only half the battle (at most).  If you are unable to get others (i.e, internal sponsors, colleagues, partners, clients, etc.) to get excited about an idea, it may never see light of day. This, of course, applies not only to creative marketing ideas,  but ideas for new products, processes, businesses and so on.  

 So today, I thought it would be helpful to share some tips that I’ve found useful for getting others to support your ideas and help bring them to life.

1. Clearly state the challenge/opportunity. Most (if not all) great ideas serve to solve a problem and/or create a new opportunity. Before jumping into your idea, be sure to clearly state what that challenge/opportunity is – and, even better, get people excited about addressing it.

2. Keep it simple. There will be a time when you’ll need to get into the details.  However, before doing so, it is critical to get everyone on board about the bigger idea.  You should be able to explain your idea in less than 3 minutes.  If you can’t, you’re probably not ready to present it.

3. Present with passion and confidence. Feelings are contagious. If others don’t see your excitement for an idea, chances are they won’t get very excited about it either.  Also, be sure to demonstrate passion and confidence for getting it executed. The idea is just the beginning of the process – bringing it to life is where the majority of the work most often comes into play. If others don’t believe that it’s possible, then the idea will likely get killed (or, potentially, handed off to someone else to own/execute). 

4. Never Mail It In. Often times, people ask, “can you just send me the ideas.”  While words and pictures can be powerful, great ideas deserve to be shared in person (or at least, via a phone/video call), where confidence/passion can be demonstrated, questions can be answered and misinterpretations avoided. 

5. Support your idea with facts and figures. While great ideas sometimes feel good in our gut, it is best if you can share facts and figures that help demonstrate why you believe the idea will work. Audience information, competitive data, social media trends and other data can often be very helpful. Of course, this data can also help great inform ideas.

6. Let others share “ownership.”  There is pride in ownership. So let others feel some ownership in the idea. One way to do this is to share multiple ideas and let others choose which they’d like to move forward with. Just making that decision gives them some ownership.  However, even better is to invite others to help evolve the idea and make it stronger.  Rather than get into the weeds of an idea on the first pass, show just enough to get everyone excited and thinking, “Wow! We could also do X with this idea…”. Not only does this approach provide more opportunities for ownership, it will also make the idea (and execution) that much stronger.

So, the next time you have an idea that requires the support of others to bring to life (most do), I hope you consider these tips and have a positive outcome.  Great ideas don’t sell themselves. But, when everyone shares the passion and confidence for a great idea, they not only get “sold through” but, more importantly, they become even bigger than what you may have even initially expected.  

 As always, thanks for reading.  Please feel free to share this post with anyone you believe may benefit from it and, of course, if you have any thoughts or comments, please just post them here.

Have a great day! 

PS. The team did a great job presenting the idea. It was approved and they can’t wait to bring it to life.