Part of my job is to listen to other people’s ideas. I listen to the ideas of company owners, founders, Presidents, VPs, CEOs, etc. I love to hear others’ ideas as it can lead to collaboration and super interesting projects, but not always. Sometimes these ideas have “avoid at all cost” stamped on them. It used to happen quite a bit. I’d be in a meeting, some senior executive shares their epiphany, and I’m tasked with implementing it and ensuring success. I cannot honestly let my budget get eaten up with someone’s whim, can I? After all, my reputation is tied up into the success of the projects and campaigns I run for my clients.
Now, sometimes there may be brilliance that you just don’t have the vision to see. But when your instinct is right there are some things just beyond your control. However, there are ways to avoid these bad sort of thing from happening too often. It starts with your marketing research and ends with your skills of persuasion. For me, I’m known for straight-forward response to things. If the idea is good, I’ll say so (enthusiastically) – and if it’s genuinely bad, I’ll say so (with tact). This doesn’t always go over well, but in time my clients come to appreciate my direct honesty so that time isn’t wasted on bad ideas.
Here is where the research part comes in. Saying “no” to something can be hurtful and can result in my client choosing to hire a “yes man” instead. Knowing your research allows you to base your opinions on facts and neutral information (as opposed to your previous experience or ‘gut’ feel). This helps by taking the emotion out of the discussion. It also allows the client to do their own research or review the points you brought up. Marketing personas are extremely effective here.
Persuasion is your ability to shift their thinking and to see their own idea more objectively. It doesn’t necessarily mean you get them to agree with you. Persuasion allows you to discuss the idea and its success (or failure) more realistically. This can help you identify prospect objections and other obstacles in your idea. It’s important to have answers before the questions are asked. Being prepared is a HUGE part of marketing strategy success.
After saying all of this it is extremely important for you to listen to others’ ideas with objectivity. Ask questions to get to the root of the idea. Take some time to consider an idea before you judge it or reject it outright. Different perspectives are invaluable in marketing and you certainly don’t want to alienate those who wish to share. Equally, it’s important for you to share your reasons for hesitancy or rejection. Allow others to try and overcome objections.
So, hearing “no” to your idea isn’t always a bad thing. What’s important is to identify WHY it wouldn’t work so your next idea receives a resounding “yes”!

Need to bounce around a few ideas? Get in touch to schedule a short consultation.

Carolyn Bergshoeff is the founder of WindWater Marketing, a small business marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada. Carolyn regularly goes to bat for good ideas and helps her client’s ideas gain strength before implementing.