Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Illustrate And Demonstrate

Picking up where we left off last month on outputs and outcomes and better or better to work with, the point is that in making a presentation (new business or otherwise) we tend to think in terms of the key messages we'd like to cover versus the key conclusions we'd like our audiences to reach. I've sat through dozens of new business presentation rehearsals where invariably there's always one colleague who jumps up and says, "we have to tell them we're strategic" or "we have to tell them we're creative." They believe fundamentally that if we don't tell them, the audience will never know.

No offense to my former colleagues, but think about the absurdity of that for a moment. Imagine proceeding to your next PowerPoint slide, sporting your typical agency template and in your finest Times Roman font stating, "We're creative." Let's face it, when the show doesn't match the tell, your audience is left unconvinced. (Place yourself in that audience. Would you be persuaded? Of course not.)

To be convincing on the issues of competence and compatibility as a marketing partner, you have to illustrate and demonstrate.

So what does that mean?

Well, if you want your audience to conclude that your strategic and creative, then actually BE strategic and creative. If you're as good at being either, then the audience won't miss it. Take advantage of every opportunity both large and small to illustrate these points.

Of course competence is only one factor. When it comes to winning new business, prospects want an agency with whom they are compatible. Once again, you can't just say, "You'll really like working with us." Here's where you have to demonstrate who you are as individual presenters and as a team: Enjoy yourselves; show you enjoy your colleagues; listen to one another; help each other reinforce your points; engage with your audience. If doesn't look as if you like and respect one another as a team, or if you don't use the presentation to strengthen your rapport with the prospects in the room, then it's unlikely your prospective client will reach the conclusion that you're the right fit for their company - no matter how qualified you are.

Think of show and tell this way: You show (illustrate and demonstrate) and let your new client tell everyone how glad they are to have hired you.

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