In the beginning stages of a project, getting off on the right foot with the client is crucial. One way to do this is by initially presenting more than one idea, which both increases your chances of pleasing your client and ultimately saves you time.
Coming up with ideas takes a lot of work, especially when you want to fully craft and produce something “perfect” for your first big presentation. But what happens if you pour your heart and soul into a single piece of music that just isn’t right for the client’s vision? Besides the disappointment of having your work rejected, you also start off with a negative experience. Suddenly there are doubts on both sides of the relationship about whether or not you’re the right fit for the project.
Whenever time permits, I always recommend pitching multiple ideas, especially at the beginning of a project. For one thing, you increase your chances that one of your ideas is a home run and exactly what the client is looking for. But there’s also a huge psychological component to it as well because you shift the conversation from “Is this idea right? Yes or no?” to “Which idea is better?”. Instead of having your one idea rejected, then trying one more, and one more, by presenting multiple ideas it becomes more about choices and direction. Instead of “This isn’t what I had in mind”, you get “I like Idea B better, but can we make it a bit faster?”. Even if none of your ideas is quite right, you’re much more likely to find something that resonates with the client and can keep things moving along.
Believe it or not, I learned this concept from watching Shark Tank, the reality TV show where business owners pitch to wealthy investors. A technique the sharks use is to present multiple options. “Do you want option A or option B?” is extremely powerful, because it assumes they are going to take one of the options. “None of the above” is obviously available, but you can tell that many people don’t even realize that choice. Their frame of mind has been shifted into considering what’s in front of them.
This may seem like it requires more work overall, but I believe that it actually saves a lot of time. Focus on the word “idea” and keep in mind that you don’t have to write a fully realized track. For example, let’s say I have a four-minute track to write. I might present three 30 second ideas and ask the client to choose one, or if none is right to use them as a guide for what to try next. Contrast this with writing the entire four-minute piece and having it rejected!
It helps if the client is on board with the process, so you should explain what you’re going to do up front before presenting. But I’ve yet to have a client say “no, I’d hate to have multiple options to choose from.”
And more often than not, the first idea is not the one that gets chosen.