But dear agency friend: if logic doesn’t work on people buying your client’s products, why do you think it would work on clients buying your product? You can’t reason people to bravery.
None of this is to say that agencies shouldn’t be profoundly strategic. Of course, they should be. But they should deploy that strategy very, very lightly at the moment they’re trying to stoke some client courage. An argument wins you nothing. Instead, be the thing you’re trying to do: Scrap the oodles of data-heavy set-up slides, burn your “reasons to believe” and be surprising, charming, maybe even a little reckless and a great deal of irresistible fun.
Three inspiration-based tips for selling “brand” work to a marketer fixated on performance:
Scribble out the line between “performance” and “brand” marketing
Don’t run away from the tried-and-true traffic-driving tools of performance marketing—coupons, giveaways, affiliate programs, branded search, endorsements. Embrace them—and dress them up in glorious brand clothes. Take your 2-for-1 promo and make it an actual creative idea. Craft the crap out of those paid search ads. Indulging the brand/performance distinction perpetuates the idiocy that “brand” marketing doesn’t “perform.” Don’t do that. Scramble those eggs together.
Be a heart magnet, not a head tickler
If you’re not making a client your accomplice, you’re making them your judge. Find ways to engage your client emotionally. Enlist them on the creative journey. If you think your client should be doing only the “thinky bits” while leaving the “creative bits” to you, you’ll be left with a client who is only overthinking. Let them play. Ask them about music and colors and casting and typeface and vibe. Ask them what they feel is funny or sad and scary about their brand. Ask them to invent five great innovations—or pick three great spokespeople. Let them birth babies they want to share with the world.
Put your skin on the performance line
You truly believe emotional brand marketing “performs” for the business. Great. Tie your compensation to a performance metric—not some fuzzy futuristic bullshit about attitudes and equity; nope, tie your compensation to the same metrics to which your client is held accountable; generally, short-term sales and margins. The act of offering this is a courage-building force in itself. It says more than any case study could. It’s a gift and a dare.
Ultimately, if creative brand marketing has a future alongside the ever-perfecting machinery of performance marketing, it needs to stop insisting on its own importance and arguing like an academic. We, its creators and crusaders, need to make people feel its power.