The Trouble with Buy-In

The Trouble with Buy-In

It’s one thing to create a super-sensible marketing strategy, or an incredibly clever campaign, but when it gets ditched in the director’s office or bombs in the board room, the culprit — nine times out of ten — is a lack of buy-in.

Why? Personalities. Perspectives. Personal agendas. You name it, we’ve seen it take down a great plan.

The real question isn’t why it happens but how to overcome it

We’ve had some experience with this so let us break it down.

  • Independent research. It’s hard to ignore solid data that backs up what you’re trying to pitch. If you want to run a campaign on LinkedIn and you can show that 35% of your frequent travelers use LinkedIn on a daily basis, you’ve got a good argument. If you don’t have data from a community perception study, intercept study, or other independent research for your specific community, you could be missing opportunities to get buy-in for the campaigns you know in your soul you need to run.
  • Case studies. When something works in another airport or community, it’s easier for leadership to see how it could work in your environment. If you’re taking a big risk, it may be worth the extra work to put together a case study showing how your idea was implemented successfully in another part of the universe. Or at least another part of Earth.
  • Anecdotes. We love and hate anecdotes. They can be a great way to illustrate a broad concept or the experience of a broader group of people, but they can also be dangerous because an anecdote is literally a data set of one. We find they can be really useful for making an emotional connection. This kind of leads into our next point about personalities.
  • Something for everyone. You’ve heard of Myers-Briggs, right? Or Enneagram? Or any one of the dozens of other personality tests? Well they all say essentially the same thing: that there are different personalities in the world, and each personality type has different needs and motivation. For the purposes of obtaining buy-in, we can boil it down into four simple categories. If you can present your strategy or campaign in a way that addresses all four, you’ll be positioned for success.
    • Feelings – highlight the meaning behind it
    • Facts – provide detailed information
    • Fun – bring excitement and demonstrate action
    • Frame – show how it fits with the larger plan
  • Invite criticism. Yeah, you read that right. Ask for the feedback you know they’re going to give anyway, and receive it graciously. It shows you’re open to input and even if you don’t implement any of the suggestions, they will feel heard. If your audience doesn’t feel heard, then they aren’t able to listen.
  • Act now! Don’t wait until you’ve got all your t’s crossed and i’s dotted to run your plan by those who need to buy in. Start teasing your ideas early in a low-key way to give them time to process it and chime in with their thoughts. When it comes to buy-in, the sooner in the process you can get it, the better.
  • Bring in an independent expert. Why, yes, we would love to come to your board meeting! Sometimes having a third-party who is an expert in what you’re trying to pitch can bring an added sense of confidence to your pitchees. They can fire off all the questions that make you sweat bullets and your independent expert can take the heat for you. Plus, we love making our clients look like heroes in the board room, or the director’s office, or the community, or anywhere else.

If you have a specific challenge — maybe Debbie Downer sits on your board — let’s talk. We’ve worked with 50+ clients over the years and we have a few tricks up our sleeves.