Dealing with Rejection in the Marketing Business
Imagine pitching a concept for a design, project, or brand that you and your team worked especially hard on. Extensive amounts of hours, research, brainstorming, and creativity have been put into a project your team is proud and excited to present—only to find out that your client is not really that into it.
We’ll admit, this is a more extreme case, as great agency-client relationships are built on trust and communication; however, it can and does happen all the time in the business world. So what do you do to alleviate the tension when you’re faced with rejection? Stay calm, start communicating, and figure out a solution. Here are our tips on how to deal with rejection:
Feel Out the Room
Try to pick up on the signals being projected by your clients during your presentation. Do they seem to be seeing part of the picture or are they skeptical? Sometimes some people just need a little persuasive push to make a decision on something that might not be their expertise.
Get to the Root of the Problem
Take initiative and engage in the conversation with your client(s). Push your ego aside, have an open mind, and figure out what the client doesn’t like about your proposal or project. Picking up on your client’s feelings and acknowledging that things aren’t quite right will assure them that you’re on their side and that you understand how important it is for them to get a successful outcome. This will ease the tension in the situation, and clients will be more inclined to work with you.
Understand What Your Client Is Looking For
Now that you’ve figured out what your client doesn’t want or like, figure out which of the client’s wants and needs are not being met. What are they looking for in an end result? What do they need to see? Advise your clients against going with their “gut instinct” immediate reaction and to compare it with their perspective twenty-four hours later, just to be sure.
Voice Your Opinions
As important as the client’s desires are, you’re ultimately responsible for the outcome of a project, and not all of their ideas will ultimately work. You are the one with the expertise and industry knowledge. You can compromise on what should change or enhance based on your client’s vision, but stand up for what you genuinely believe shouldn’t change and offer an explanation why.
Remember, just because an idea was initially rejected doesn’t mean it won’t be fitting at another time or suitable for another project. Save that idea, because you’ll never know when it will come back. For example, the founder of The Idea Boutique, Lisa Burwell, introduced the Reel Rewards program to Southern Theatres and specified the steps in her beliefs to make it a success. It was initially rejected, but was revisited and picked up. Now it’s a huge success! Another wonderful way we used a rejected idea was an ad campaign for Resort Collection with the headline “I’d Rather Be…” Although they had decided to go with “Happiness Is…” We managed to reinvent “I’d Rather Be…” as a long-running successful ad campaign for Newman-Daily Resort Properties instead. So keep the idea in your library, because you never know when you’ll revisit that rejected idea again.
Give Reasoning Behind Each Idea
Give your clients some proof of the methods and explain your reasoning for a design, campaign, or idea by backing them up with credible sources. Are you able to confidently answer all the questions your client may have? This is important. You need to show them that you’ve thought of every possible outcome. Your client will feel more at ease with your reasoning and want to hear more.
Use Case Studies
Use real examples of other real-world work or projects you have completed in the past to assure your client that your idea will work for them. For example, “This strategy has been proven successful here, here, and here.” Give them the stats and the proof. When you’re following the principles that examples successes such as The Resort Collection, Mexico Beach, Florida, and Southern Theatres, your client will feel more confident in your choices and be more willing to work with your ideas.
Hopefully rejection will scarcely happen to you. But if and when it does, remember to keep your cool and don’t get choked up! Communication and compromise are key and will help you and your clients resolve the issues and create something together.