When you have a story to tell, you usually just tell it. But in advertising, the story is what gives your idea life. And for your idea to live successfully, you have to tell it over and over. You tell it to your partner, to your team, to your client, to your director—before you finally tell it to your real audience. You literally breathe life into your idea through these tellings, so you better get good at it.
Your job, as much as anything, is about articulation. That’s seems like a weird thing to say, but it’s true. You have to figure out how to articulate your idea in a way that brings it to life for different people. Some of those people will be creative people who understand what you mean when you reference a Wes Anderson style of art direction. Others will be MBAs who are very smart at business but don’t know Wes Anderson from Steven Spielberg. Or maybe you’re talking to a CMO who has about 2 minutes to hear your idea and just wants to quickly get the gist and understand how it solves her business problem.
Whatever the case, you have to know your audience in the meeting the same way you know your audience out in the world. What will resonate with them? (Hint: there’s a 99% chance that “it would be really cool if we…” won’t resonate with them.) Importantly, how can you articulate your idea so that what’s in your head is the same thing that ends up in their head. I tell my students this over and over in my scriptwriting class. How can you get what’s in your head into my head?
You’ll tell your story many times. If those first tellings don’t go well, that final telling will never happen. So don’t overlook those first tellings. Give a lot of thought to how you’re going to bring the story to life for your client, in particular. They should be as engaged by your telling of the story as they will be by the final execution.
We’ve all seen ideas that could be great fall flat in meetings. It’s usually because nobody gave any thought to how to present it. Or worse, didn’t think the idea needed anything more than to be read from a paper. Ideas do not sell themselves. Stories—vivid, engaging, entertaining—sell ideas. So tell a good story each time you tell it.