Selling the Unknown

As I mentioned very early in this book, new ideas are part of the unknown — if they're truly original, that is. At this point in the book I shouldn't have to explain or defend the value of new ideas. This is not a book about the tried-and-true and the obvious. If you want lessons on selling the tried-and-true and the obvious, there are hundreds, probably thousands, of books that will help you. This book is about coming up with fresh ideas and using just as many creative resources to sell those new ideas.

The Secret to Selling Is Very Small The secret to selling creative ideas is very small. It's what I call "the zone." It's that happy place where the seller and the sellee can peacefully coexist. Being creative is hard enough. Selling creative ideas can be even trickier if you're not equally resourceful in your approach. There are many frustrated creative people who have great ideas but can't get anyone to buy them. I might suggest

The Selling Zone

people buy ideas.

it's less a case of closed-minded buyers than perhaps a case of closed-minded sellers. They don't understand that if an idea isn't in that happy place or can't expand the buyer's acceptable range, then it just isn't a great idea.

I close this chapter with a story about a young lady who once freelanced for me at my ad agency. After busily working up a number of concepts to help solve a client's communications challenge, this bright-eyed, ponytailed young woman proudly brought some tissues into my office for some feedback. I put a handful of the better ideas aside, gave her some constructive feedback on them, and told her that they were very nice ideas. She beamed like a third-grader who'd just finished a test early. "But you realize," I said, "I can't present these to the client."

She knitted her brow instantly. I continued, "These ads are nice creatively, but they're not on strategy."

"You mean all those great creative ads that Leonard/Monahan wins awards for are also on strategy?" she said incredulously.

"Well, yeah," I said matter-of-factly.

She turned on her heel and went back to her office, I'm sure thinking about something quite similar to my earlier zone illustration.

Cheat Notes for Chapter 17: Selling Creative Ideas Requires Its Own Creativity

On average, the quality of the ideas executed is never as good as the quality of the ideas actually conceived.

It's not a great idea if it doesn't ultimately see the light of day.


The real winners are the people who have new ideas that actually become reality.


If your ideas are compromised too deeply too often, maybe it's not the quality of the ideas or the execution; maybe it's a lack of ability to have others see the brilliance in the idea.

Identify the people you need to sell the idea to. And don't guess what's on their minds. Ask them.

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