Saying no can sometimes be awkward, especially when it comes to big prospective clients – but sometimes it can be very empowering for you and your agency.
“There’s a reputation that comes with saying no,” explains Jonathan Ford, group creative director of Pearlfisher. “It saves time, money and wasted conversations.”
And when it comes to saying no and reaping the benefits, Jonathan has a lot of experience.
In 2005, Pearlfisher was invited to pitch for one of the world’s biggest fast-food brands. However, their brief didn’t align with global eating and health trends at the time, or with Pearlfisher’s stated brand values.
“We sent them a considered response, spelling out exactly why we wouldn’t do the pitch, and that the only way we would do it was if the brief changed,” says Jonathan. “But we didn’t hear anything and assumed we’d upset them.”
However, a year and a half later, Pearlfisher received a phone call from the global CMO of the brand, telling them they’d turned out to be completely right in their rejection, and wanted to work with them this time to rectify things.
Fast forward 15 years later, and Pearlfisher has just completed another global redesign of their branded packaging – an example of how to build a strong relationship through a constructive and considered response rather than simply saying no and being antagonistic.
Saying no in this way also sets clear boundaries and expectations for both your agency and any future prospective clients.
We’ll be talking to Jonathan about harnessing the power of saying no, the benefits of doing so upon your agency and its reputation, and how rejecting business can actually help you win more in the long run.