Today's topic is: How to make your clients think you are the best writer in the world
If you want to build a successful writing career, you really don't have to be the best writer in the world. You just have to make your clients think that's what you are.
Tip # 1: Use impeccable spelling and grammar. Most people have terrible spelling and grammar (just read the Christmas letter from your college roommate and you will see what I mean). But most people recognize good spelling and grammar when they see it. So proofread carefully. And consult a spelling and grammar expert such as your 7th grade English teacher when necessary. She will be thrilled to hear from you.
Tip # 2: Use your client's words whenever possible. For example, a client may send a creative brief that says: "This postcard needs too convinse our cusstomers that this free checking account can help them save money and manage the stresses in there lifes and be more sucessfulll at everything they do. It may even save there mairrage. Lets really sell it."
Your job is to pick out some key words and use them in your copy. In this case the client did include one rational thought, so you could talk about helping people save money. In other cases, the creative brief will consist entirely of 6 words: "Checking accounts. Need something really catchy." Now you're in trouble. There are no key words to pick out, and you have no idea what "really catchy" is supposed to mean. So it's time for Tip # 3.
Tip # 3: Don't be afraid to ask for clarification. In the case of the 6-word creative brief, you could simply send an email requesting some more details. What does "catchy" mean to them? Do they have examples of previous "catchy" projects they could send? Did they have some copy points they would like to include?
Chances are, you will receive an answer something like this: "You know. Catchy."
So there you go. Just write something up. I guarantee that they will send an email that says: "This is not at all what we had in mind. We asked for a contemporary, sales-oriented headline with light and humorous body copy emphasizing the fact that we do not charge a monthly fee for our checking account. And why didn't you mention the sweepstakes?"
Before you explode, take a minute to read Tip # 4.
Tip # 4: Don't take anything personally. This is the hardest part for a perfectionist like me. I mean, if I had known they wanted light and humorous copy emphasizing the fact that they do not charge a monthly fee, I would have given it to them! I would have been happy to explain their sweepstakes!
Over the years, I have learned that the best course is not to send the irate email I typed up within 6 seconds of receiving their email. The best course is to repeat my copywriting mantra: "Don't take it personally. Don't take it personally" ... until I have calmed down. Next, I take a few handfuls of Cheetos and do a quick review of the project I wrote in 2003 which won an award even though, ok, the award was not specifically for the copywriting but still it lets me claim to be an award-winning copywriter which at this particular moment is very important to my fragile ego.
Whew. Now I can tackle the checking account project anew, giving the client exactly what they want, making the copy nice and catchy and using as many of the client's own words as possible.
Then I will send my invoice, grab some more Cheetos, turn on Deal Or No Deal, and remind myself that, even if I am not the best writer in the world, I really do have the best job in the world.
Topics for discussion:
Do you have certain clients who just drive you crazy?
Have you developed strategies to deal with them?
Have you ever dropped a client because they were so difficult?