Without it, your idea is in big trouble. So what can you do you get the right heads nodding in your direction? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • Getting a green light for a big, ambitious project you truly believe in is, without question, one of the great thrills of life in business.
  • And yet these triumphant moments are not widely celebrated or discussed.
  • We marketers are particularly guilty here. We love to celebrate big new ideas but we don’t talk much about the battles we fight to make them real. This is a missed opportunity, because (as Liane Davey puts it) “your idea is worthless unless you know how to sell it”.
  • In addition to being under-discussed, the process of getting the buy-in you need is often very difficult.
  • Why is it so hard? Blame human psychology. According to Daniel Kahneman, most business leaders (and most humans) are too risk averse.
  • Kahneman and his co-authors offer this advice for overcoming this natural aversion: bring potential risks out in the open instead of glossing over them. It shows you’ve done your homework—and maintained your objectivity.
  • According to Jane Dutton and Susan Ashford, the best way to achieve buy-in is to tailor your pitch. Start by understanding your audience’s unique blend of goals, values and knowledge. Then shape your message accordingly.
  • We’ve found success approaching our clients’ internal consensus-building efforts as small scale marketing campaigns—defining personas, key messages and timelines. It’s a natural mode for marketers—and it works surprisingly well.
  • We also like this advice from Seth Godin: “Push for your idea. If it fails, take the blame. If it succeeds, give the credit to the boss.” Think of it as trading praise for permission.
  • Earning buy-in takes time. In Japan it’s known as Nemawashi—a gardening term that refers to the process of preparing to replant a tree.
  • It’s delicate, careful work that deserves as much thought and consideration as the idea itself. It’s time we all talked about it more.
Issue #129
Oct 17, 2021

Further Reading