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Three ways to get stakeholders to approve creative

Getting stakeholders to approve creative ideas is often an uphill battle. The key lies not in overpowering their objections but guiding them toward a mutual understanding of what constitutes successful and impactful marketing.

Understanding Stakeholder Hesitation

First and foremost, it's essential to empathize with stakeholders. Often, their reluctance to embrace creative concepts isn't born out of a desire to stifle creativity but rather from a lack of familiarity with the creative process. 

Much like my experience with houseplants, which took several unsuccessful attempts before I could consistently keep them alive, stakeholders need guidance and assurance in unfamiliar territory. 

Their background, typically steeped in logic and numbers, might not align with the inherently subjective nature of creative work. Recognizing this gap is the first step in bridging it.

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One: Focus on Strategy, Not Creative Pitches

Instead of directly pitching creative ideas, which often sound risky to logic-oriented stakeholders, focus on presenting a solid strategy. 

A well-laid-out strategy should limit the creative options to those you wish to pursue, much like a magician guiding an audience to a predetermined choice. This approach doesn't eliminate stakeholder choice but narrows it down to creatively fruitful paths.

Two: Redefine Risk

Stakeholders naturally tend to minimize risk and maximize results. The key is to redefine what 'risk' means in the context of creativity. Often, the greater risk lies in playing it safe and blending in with competitors. 

By conducting a competitive analysis and presenting this data, you can demonstrate that a unique, creative approach is, in fact, the safer bet.

Three: Selective Permission-Seeking

Only some aspects of a creative idea need stakeholder approval. Some elements of creativity, such as specific writing styles or directorial choices, can be integrated later in the process under the umbrella of an approved concept. 

This method allows for introducing creative nuances without needing explicit approval for every detail.


Getting stakeholders to approve creative ideas requires a mix of empathy, strategic thinking, and a bit of creative maneuvering in itself. By understanding their mindset, redefining perceived risks, and carefully guiding the approval process, marketers can create an environment where creative ideas flourish and are embraced by all parties involved.

Remember, the goal isn't to overpower or trick stakeholders but to collaboratively guide them toward recognizing the value of creative, out-of-the-box thinking. This approach leads to more exciting marketing campaigns and fosters a more harmonious and understanding relationship between creatives and stakeholders.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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