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Sell Your Ideas By Using the 70/20/10 Method

4 min read

I'm Jeremy Carson, and this is everything I wish I knew about the advertising and creative industry when I got started. And everything I'm discovering as a Creative Director today.
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I was speaking at an event recently, when this young creative asked me how to convince his boss to do cool shit. We were talking about making audience-specific creative and targeting them with that work on social, which (to me and him) just makes sense.

"She's an entrepreneur," he said, "so you'd think she'd understand the need to evolve!"

"You've got the right spirit," I told him, "but the wrong facts."

Entrepreneurs, just like most clients, are actually very risk averse. They work so hard to find effective strategies, that they don't want to mess anything up when it actually does work. I'm sure you've hit this roadblock at some point in your career (and if not, you will).

But, don't worry, I have a solution for you. It's called the "70/20/10 Method" and it's something my agency has used for years. Because our clients are some of the top in their industries, and taking risks is scary when you're #1.

And let me tell you, it works. Here's how:

The 70/20/10 Method

The method itself is pretty simple. Take your budget and divide it into three parts:

  • 70% - Tried and true methods.
  • 20% - Techniques that have been proven by others.
  • 10% - Experimental, crazy new shit.

A Real World Example

Okay, let's try an example with my local coffee shop: Bogart's.

They may have an annual budget of $10,000. Let's say they spend it on a combination of:

  • $3000 - Local sponsorships.
  • $5000 - Direct mailers.
  • $2000 - Yelp and Google Search Ads.

That's not a lot of money, so they're probably not going to want to change anything, because what if it doesn't work? But, I know that if they start investing in Facebook/Instagram ads (like their competitors are), it could be more effective than their Google Ads and direct mailers. Plus, the clientele is pretty young and always on their phones, so something like a Snapchat Custom Geofilter and Facebook Live of their live music nights could be interesting to test out.

So, I'd propose the following, using the 70/20/10 Method:

  • (Old 70%) $2100 - Local sponsorships.
  • (Old 70%) $3500 - Direct mailers.
  • (Old 70%) $1400 - Yelp and Google Search Ads.
  • (New 20%) $2000 - Facebook and Instagram Ads.
  • (Crazy 10%) $1000 - Snapchat Custom Geofilter and Facebook Live Ads.

I'm not telling them to stop doing all that other stuff. I'm simply saying, "Let's take a little of the budget and test it out."

What to Do When They Work (or Not)

Then, after a while, you have to evaluate its success. Maybe the FB/IG ads were awesome! Now, those become part of the 70%. And the Facebook Live Ads got a few views, but Snapchat was a bust. Okay, cut out Snap, while you keep testing how to make FB Live work better as part of the experimental budget. Then, come up with new things to work within that 20%.

The 70% is made up of techniques that consistently work, 20% is full of tactics that are promising, and 10% is your room to play.

Revolution vs. Evolution

"You say you want a revolution," John Lennon sang, "We all wanna change the world." And it's the same with marketing.

Creatives (everybody, really) wants to come in and wipe the slate clean, doing things the way they feel they should be done. They want to revolutionize how the client markets the brand. But a revolution is scary.

What you need is evolution.

Think of it this way: whenever you see someone you haven't seen in a long time, they tell you how different you look. But, to you, you don't see it. Well, it's because, to them, you've gone from a pimply-faced kid to a full-grown adult in moments. You've gone through a revolutionary growth. But, to you, you've simply evolved, a little bit day after day. Until today, when you're completely different than you were 20 years ago.

That's what the 70/20/10 Method is all about. Taking those baby steps that completely change a brand, little by little.

Understanding the Client's Mindset

The whole key to this is removing as much risk from the equation as possible.

Think about it: to the client, marketing and advertising is a bit of a "throwing darts at a wall" type of technique. They don't truly understand it, but they know what they want to get from it. So, if they have something that works, even a little, they don't want to risk it not working anymore.

This is why data-driven strategies are getting so popular with clients. Building your plan around data, making the creative using data, and then measuring the success of that creative with data, means (to the client) that you're removing some of the subjectivity. And with data-driven creative, you're spreading that risk out among segments, and crafting the creative uniquely for those segments, so it's even less risky.

No Risk, No Reward

You want to change the status quo, meaning you want the business to grow or even maintain its success, then you need to take some risk. But, convincing your client to do that is difficult. Use this 70/20/10 Method to look at it from their perspective.

You'll find that, if you have a little patience, you'll be able to revolutionize their brand, with little evolutions along the way.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this, say hello @thejeremycarson. LinkedIn Instagram