Much of adland likes to have a moan about its clients not wanting to continually do stuff that’s innovative (sometimes stupidly articulated as cool). This kind of thinking isn’t big, or clever as my Dad might say. It’s certainly not helpful either.

This recent survey highlighted that agencies feel like the Australian marketing industry is too conservative and small minded. I’m not sure that’s totally true.

If your innovative idea is right but they aren’t buying it, then you haven’t adequately helped them understand the possibility of said innovative idea.

A marketing department doesn’t need cool, it needs ideas that work for the lowest possible cost AND effort. This is where the problem, but also the opportunity lies.

We need to make innovation easier for clients to understand and execute, even when it’s actually increasingly the opposite. Anything that feels too hard for a return that is only on par or incrementally better will not fly. It gets put in the too hard basket. This is very different to being conservative or small minded.

The great agencies out there doing true innovation are those that give its clients the confidence that it’s the right solution and can be delivered. They also do a good job of showing why any potential pain will be worthwhile.

Rather than just wheeling out you digital strategist, agencies need to learn from technology companies and in particular start-ups to see how they get venture capitalists to part with huge amounts of money. Nick Law of R/GA was recently in Australia at a conference and he referenced how VCs would never buy a conceptual idea in the same way brands often do. VCs want to at least see prototypes and feasibility studies.

Not only is this interesting it’s also a fundamental shift in process, skillset and business model. Selling the best above the line campaign is very different to selling a business changing innovation.

So the next time you hear yourself saying that your client isn’t innovative, maybe you haven’t done the idea justice.

Image via Seth1492