Defending Your Creative Ideas

Defending Ideas Sketch

Defending Your Ideas - A little sketch from the corner of my notebook, as we were brainstorming new ideas.

If you want to get into the business of marketing, you’re going to need to develop (a) a thick skin and (b) a strategy for sharing your ideas. Neither of these tasks are easy, but trust me when I tell you, they are necessary.

Many people think that marketing is easy, since just about anyone can come up with one good marketing or advertising idea. The real challenge, of course, is to come up with multiple ideas. Ideas that adapt to evolving strategic direction and new media channels. That’s not quite as easy.

In a brainstorm, there are some good ideas that everyone agrees is on target and makes sense. If there’s a whiteboard, it gets written in big bold letters as “an idea.” Kudos to you if you were part of that brainstorm session.

If you’ve ever been part of a brainstorm session, it can be fun and exhilarating, but it is also a little scary. Why scary? Well, if all of the ideas are safe, the group may not be trying hard enough. There may be fear in the room. Nobody wants to share their best idea, only to be rejected by the whole room. Making it to the whiteboard builds confidence. Not making it to the board is depressing.

Sometimes you have a new idea, something so radical that it requires some explanation. At that moment, you are vulnerable, as is your idea. One negative comment can bring the whole idea-pitch to a screeching halt. Believe me, after that screeching halt, sometimes it’s hard to get back up to speed with new ideas.

Let me tell you something, if you know your idea is good, defend it. You may not be explaining it properly, which means that you need to ask your fellow brainstormers to give you a little boost. Ask them to help you play out the idea, even if you set a time limit of five minutes. By that point, you’ll have a second chance to reposition your idea, explain it again to the group, and see if it’s still a good idea.

You’ll win some and you’ll lose some, but at least you’ve pleaded your case to the team. Sometimes your idea just isn’t right for this particular brainstorm. File it away, since you may find it is appropriate for a completely different campaign.

Typically in a brainstorm, there are different types of personalities. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a room full of creative thinkers from all teams, including creative services, account services, project management, strategy, and technical services. Appeal to them to play through an idea with you, especially if you know in your heart it could work, but you just need some help thinking it through. When people see your passion and your enthusiasm, they may let down their guard and give your idea one more chance.

Unfortunately, many rooms are full of naysayers, who think it’s their job to shoot down new ideas. They’re the first to declare, “that won’t work” or “that’s not on strategy.” You know who these people are, and they tend to deflate brainstorming sessions.

It’s not easy, but you often have to work extra hard to sell new ideas to them. It’s frustrating, but it can be helpful, as they will think of things that you haven’t considered. Work collaboratively and respectfully with these people, and you may find that they become champions of really good ideas. Often they just need more answers to be convinced.

Most important, don’t give up. Clients and brands need fresh ideas. They need original thinking and positioning, even if it means challenging safe, familiar ideas.

Don’t be afraid to share something new with your team. Create something new that will engage, excite, and motivate the target ideas. Defend your ideas.


7 thoughts on “Defending Your Creative Ideas

  1. I love this post. If more people could trust in themselves and be willing to step WAAAY out of the box, our society would begin value creativity as much as we do having “the right answer”. Having confidence and belief in yourself is the first step to defending your ideas whether it is a brainstorm or a new marketing campaign! Nicely put.

  2. Marianne – Thanks for the comment. It’s definitely good to hear from other creative people who have taken a risk and expressed their creativity. Seeing other people have success in a brainstorm can help everyone in the room to feel more confident about sharing  and defending their ideas. Thanks again!

  3. Many people, especially creative people, are at agencies because they have good ideas and can produce great work. Getting to the whiteboard has more to do with conviction than the idea. Sure, you have to have a “good” idea to get on the “board”, but that is a non-starter. Innovation (the kind that has a capital “I”) can be a tough sell-and sell it you must. You have to be able to stand by your idea and get it to the board. Beyond that, if you truly believe, you have to stand by your idea until it gets produced. This is the excitement and drive that can move an agency, a group or a team to a new level of performance.

    Very cool post Buddy!

  4. Buddy…you have hit the nail on the head!!!!  Great post and you touch upon such a central problem around creative thinking…



    More of my comments are here…

  5. Any idea that comnes to the mind must find its expression in reality. An idea which is not talked about , debated and tried has no value. One idea leads to another idea. It is a journey that must be undertaken whatever be the consequences. Creativity is all about boldness. Be bold.

  6. Thanks for the though provoking article, Buddy.
    Often good ideas fall victim to poor execution, or clumsy development. Coming up with multiple ideas is certainly a talent, and sifting through them to determine which are “good” is another skill. But I believe a talented visionary, be it an individual or small collaborative group, makes the difference in seeing an idea through and maximizing its “goodness.”

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