A presentation is nothing more than a Hail Mary pass


How many times have you been in a meeting where the sole purpose is for someone to deliver a presentation or pitch?  It could be your agency presenting a new creative idea.  Or perhaps its a start-up that is presenting why you should do business with them.

Or maybe you have even been the one giving the presentation?

The common fact with all of these is that in most cases, a presentation is a Hail Mary pass.  If you are just simply giving a one-way pitch, you are giving the audience two choices at the end….to say yes or to say no.  And the worst part about most presentations is that you have no idea which of those two choices the decision maker is going to make.

Some people love the thrill of the presentation, of trying to close the sale.  But business should not be a sport for thrill seekers.  Its not good business to have hold your breath and hope a decision goes your way.

To continue with the sports analogies, you should try to make your presentations a lay-up, instead of a Hail Mary pass.  Make the  presentation a formality where you know that the deal is closed before you even flip through your first slide.  Work with the decision makers in advance so they feel bought into the work.  Enroll your client in the process so they feel the same sense of ownership as you have.  Devote as much time to making the decision an easy one as you spend making the presentation look / sound good.

Delivering a great presentation is an important skill in business (Steve Jobs has shown us that).  But an even more important skill is being able to make the sale before the presentation even begins.

Taking Tequila Shots on Sunday

I’m not talking about the Patron variety of tequila shots but instead the mini-book “Tequila Shots” by word-of-mouth and brand identity agency Brains on Fire.  I came across these guys thanks to John Moore’s “Three Reads“ over at Brand Autopsy.  Since it was a lazy Sunday, I spent the morning taking Tequila Shots to see what the style of this agency was all about.   Here is what caught my eye from the quick read:

  1. This book is a stellar way to show the company culture…both to potential clients and to new employees.  You instantly get a feeling for the pulse of the place.  I love the line “if your work is your calling and not just a job, you will embrace it in everything you do.”
  2. I love their concept of Marketer-in-Residency.  It’s a way for the agency to give their clients access to some of the “smartest thinkers and doers in marketing.”  This is a brilliant way to bring fresh blood into the agency on a short term, while giving individual marketing practioners access to the overall structure of an agency.  A similiar structure has worked for years with Venture Capitalists and their “Entreprenuers-in-Residency” programs so why not agencies as well.  Very cool idea that I think a lot of agencies (and even companies) could learn from.  I could see myself really enjoying something like this…
  3. “The growth & development of people is the higest calling of leadership.”  More people need to think this way.  If people around you succeed and grow, you will be successful as well.
  4. Courageously Honest – I love this insight.  Some people call it being blunt….courageously honest is another way to put it.  There really shouldn’t be any gray zone in work.  Ideas are either good or bad.  Marketing either works or it doesn’t.  More people need the courage to be honest…it is pretty refreshing when they are.
  5. “If it ain’t fun, we must be doing it wrong.”  First, I love the picture of the bulldog that goes along with this quote.  But I love the idea even more.  More people need to have fun with work.  I am a huge believer of work hard, play hard, have fun.  As a Brand Manager, this is the type of relationship you need with your agency.  Unfortunately not enough people act this way.  Judging by the number of drinks in this mini-book, I think these guys know the definition of fun.

Take a tequila shot for yourself by downloading the book here.  Great, quick read if you have the chance.  This agency is one I’m going to be keeping my eye. 

P.S. –  If someone from Brains on Fire happens to read this post, you made the classic mistake of misspelling Procter as Proctor in John Moore’s biography on your site :)  Might want to change that.  Just practicing courageous honesty and all to point it out.

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A Day in the Life of A Brand Manager – 6/5/2008

Back on Thursday, April 24 I wrote my first Day in the Life of a Brand Manager post. Today seemed like a good day to do the next one in order to show just how different and varied the life of a Brand Manager can be:

Thursday, June 5, 2008:

5:30 AM – The bugle alarm clock sound of the Chumby came way too soon. Early start for a long day ahead. Let the dog out, check the blog real quick and then did a quick workout to wake up.

6:40 AM – At my desk but 10 minutes late for a multi-country conference call on marketing capability. Luckily I’m just playing a listening role and watching the webcast so no one notices.

7:30 AM – Conference call wraps up and time to give my agency a call to go over a couple of pieces of creative from the previous night. [Read more...]

A Day in the Life of a Brand Manager – 4/24/2008

When I started writing this blog, one of the things I wanted it to do was give a peek inside the day to day life of a Brand Manager. The thinking is that it would be helpful for aspiring marketers, students, agencies and anyone else that would like to get inside the head of a BM. I’m hoping to do this type of post every once in awhile so you can see the variety but here is Day 1: [Read more...]

Jaffe thinks the creative function should fade away?

“Why don’t you all just fade away.” – Rex Manning, Empire Records

 I couldn’t help but think of this quote from my favorite movie when I finished reading Joseph Jaffe’s latest blog post on “Is it time to phase out the creative function“.  In one of the more provocative posts I have read in a long time, Jaffe basically calls the creative function out and argues that their time has passed them by.  Jaffe argues that in today’s world, “creativity is just way too imporant to be left to a single person, a dynamic duo, or a department anymore.”  He goes to state what I think is the most important part of his argument:

“I’d begin by losing the word ’creative’ from any job title and thus, any walking silo.  Every–and I stress every–single person involved in the process of engaging surprising, delighting, empowering and converting consumers has to be creative.  Any less will just result in failure.”

Last week I wrote about how there is a difference between being a Brand Manager and being a Marketer.  This is one of the points that Jaffe was getting to.  In the old world, you could just be a Brand Manager and rely on your creatives to come up with brilliant marketing campaigns.   But in order to be the best Brand Managers in the future, you will need to be a brilliant Marketer as well.  You need to embrace that breakthrough ideas could come from anywhere…the consumer, the agency and even the client.  You cannot just sit comfortably in the background with the thinking that the ad campaign you approved will be the solution to everything.

Now to be clear, Jaffe isn’t arguing that creatives should fade away, but instead the creative function as currently defined should. [Read more...]