Agencies love to blame stupid clients for bad creative presentations. The client just doesn't get it, they'll say. Or, this client wouldn't know a good idea if it hit them in the head. Or the ever-popular, the client doesn't know what they want until they see it. These defensive reactions are really just an agency's way of retaining its pride, but we have found after six years of Ideasicle ideation projects that there's an easy way to avoid these issues.

And it involves numbers.

Why get precious?

We don't think clients are "stupid" if they don't know what they want until they see it. We think it's just human nature. For example, who on earth is able to appreciate a song before they hear it? Nobody, that's who.

Yet agencies will feel the need to narrow the scope of their presentation to 2-3 ideas that satisfy the assignment and will have a recommendation they will try their best to sell.

But why? Why get precious with only three ideas and then, if they're so good, why do you have to "sell" them?

All you are doing is decreasing the odds of success, limiting your client's involvement in your process, AND limiting the amount you will learn about your client with respect to the assignment at hand.

How does 10 ideas sound? And how about we don't try selling any of them?

We discovered long ago that there's one very important piece of insight that is impossible to get into a creative brief. That is, the subjective "likes" and "dislikes" of the clients themselves. The only way to pull that out of clients is to show them ideas. Lots of ideas.

At Ideasicle we present at least ten ideas per round of ideation and we sit back and listen (no selling). And then something magical happens. The client lets us know which ones they like and which ones they don't like. But that's not the magical part. The magic is in the fact we learn which ones they like and which ones they don't like. 

And we can take that learning to the second round of ideation. Now equipped with not only the points in the creative brief but the client's subjective tastes, we are doubly dangerous in that second round.

The Ideasicle way involves the client in the creative process.

We typically do two rounds of ideation for any kind of project. The first round is our way of involving the client in the process. And it's not just lip service. We unearth profound insights from the clients' reactions to the ten ideas about their brand, about their tastes, about their history, about everything. We learn things they never would have thought of had they not been provoked by our ideas.

It's like idea therapy. In fact, sometimes Ideasicle ideas inspire ideas in our clients. That's just fine with us.

So instead of thinking of the client as "them" and trying to "sell" them a few ideas, why not open it up, present tons of ideas, get their reactions, and then go back to the drawing board (by design, not begrudgingly), now armed with those valuable insights?

That's what we do. That's what we've always done. 

- Will Burns, CEO Ideasicle