When the CEOs of GM, Ford, and Chrysler went to Washington a couple of weeks ago to plead for money, there was one glaring thing that stood out: They each flew on separate private jets to get there. That’s the kind of tone-deaf move people remember, and it’s exactly what politicians and pundits seized on.
Writing on Ad Age’s Small Agency Diary, Tom Martin looks back and suggests ways we can all learn to present ourselves better and make the case:
First, know the room. Understand your audience and what their hot buttons will be. Also, understand what is going on in their world. We’d all like to think that new-business prospects and our current clients approach decisions about our work with Spock-like logic, but the truth is they don’t. Each consumes our recommendations, ideas and suggestions through his own personal filter. Failure to understand that filter’s implications usually results in a failed presentation. Had the heads of GM, Ford and Chrysler considered filters, they would have understood that each of these lawmakers had to consider the current economic and political climate and consumer reaction to the banking bailout plan as well as media coverage of the proceedings to determine how to respond.
He’s right on. I think presentation skills, combined with a sense of empathy in understanding your client’s motivations and needs, can take you far in the advertising business. I know I need to practice it, big time.