Archive for January, 2010

Working with Difficult People 101

Last post, I wrote about copywriters not being mind-readers. Lest you think this was just me enjoying a chance to vent, let me clarify my purpose in writing it. And let me also say, the regular clients I have now are absolutely great – but I have run into this scenario enough times in my 20+year career to know that each time I take on a new client, it can be an education process all over again.

And let me also say, my clients would tell you I’m not even a fraction as cranky as I may sound here!

The reason you should care about providing your copywriter with as completely filled-out a Client Questionnaire as you can take the time to provide – or as many materials and examples as you can assemble – is simple. It:

  • saves you money
  • results in a better-targeted and better-converting product.

After all, you wouldn’t go to a garage, knowing your car was making a funny rattle in the front right passenger corner, and say: “Fix my car. Just make it right.” Would you?

You’d want to be as specific as possible, so you didn’t return the next day and find out they gave it a tune up, a wheel alignment, rotated the tires, changed the oil, and finally (after all that) found and fixed the wheel bearing in the front right corner that was causing your initial problem.

A Recipe for Disaster

Of course, my analogy is slightly flawed, because a mechanic wouldn’t play guessing games as to where the problem was – he’d hear the noise. And he’d cheerfully have no hesitation charging you through the nose for such extras, enjoying the carte blanche you gave him by default to the full.

But no copywriter is going to write a broadly generic product and not care if it hits your target market or not: More likely, they’re going to bug you for more details… and try to be patient and courteous when you get annoyed; or when you read the results of your own half-hearted and impatient specs, and freak out, yelling: “No! THAT’S not what I wanted when I said “affiliate profits” – I really meant “selling affiliate products solely with ClickBank”. Can you just tweak it?”  (And you both know perfectly well, he means “scrap it and rewrite”…)

Having a copywriter ghost-write your work is a two-way street. You’re both two halves of a whole – the product – and you both need to work as a team. You both have to input whatever you can to create a great product, to the best of your ability.

And if you really haven’t got a clue what you want the copywriter to write about, don’t freak out because you didn’t get that detailed recipe book on “1001 Ways to Make Irish Stew with Only A Crockpot and Two Onions“…

…when the only ingredient you gave your copywriter was “some sort of cookbook”.

Copywriters Are Not Mind Readers

This is something copywriters see all too frequently…

You, Mr. Client, want a quote:  Ms. Copywriter sends you one of her standard quote sheet/questionnaires to fill out about your project, to see if she can fit it in her schedule, plus determine what she will need to charge.

It comes back to her with several sections ignored, and the answers you do provide looking rather like this:

Who is your ideal paying customer?  – “Man”

Please provide project specs and details “Ebook on PPC Marketing”

What you are looking at here is the perfect way to either get your project turned down on the spot – or pay more than you need to. “Man” is not an Ideal Paying Customer – it is a highly generic demographic.  “Ebook on PPC Marketing” does not constitute project specifications and details: It’s a Vague Suggestion.

Yes, of course most copywriters can whip you up an eBook out of thin air – but you have to at least say: “Whip me up an ebook on PPC marketing – you have free rein and I’ll be happy with whatever angle you come up with.”

Mind, you’ll pay top dollar, and the quote will be higher than it might otherwise be: Your copywriter knows already she is going to be doing twice the work (and a lot of hand-holding and “tweaking”).

You’re Going  to Have To Rewrite the Whole Thing”

Besides, the moment a copywriter sees “man” instead of “30-something stay-at-home-dad with no skills, desperate for some paying work, who knows thoroughly how to navigate the internet because he spends most of the day gaming online”, the copywriter knows she is going to encounter the following scenario:

Oops, Ms. Copywriter, you’re going to have to rewrite this whole thing! When I said “PPC”, I really meant just Google AdWords. Besides, you’ve geared this towards professional internet marketers, and I really wanted it to teach unemployed stay-at-home dads with no skills other than being able to game on the net and hang out on Facebook how to make some money.”

This sort of client inevitably follows this with about 2 pages of solid detail as to what they did – and didn’t – want in the ebook.  You end up with the equivalent of a complete new project to write… and they want it for free, since it’s a “tweak”.

(Ms. Copywriter howls in frustration: “WHY couldn’t he tell me all this in his INITIAL QUOTE?”)

Don’t get me wrong: Like I said, many copywriters haven’t the slightest problem with creating an eBook out of thin air, based on a subject title alone… but the less specific communication you provide, the higher your initial quote will be.

And you won’t get free rewrites.

If you do have a vision in mind, but can’t be bothered to write more than “man” and “PPC ebook”, don’t expect your copywriter to happily rewrite the entire project – especially as a “tweak”.

Copywriters are not mind readers. Neither are clients. Let’s get better communication happening all round. Clients, what do you wish your copywriter knew? Copywriters, what’s your pet client-related frustration?

(Thanks for the gypsy graphic.)

Yesterday I received the following email from my busy friend, Sandi.

“Hi Marya,

You won’t believe what I just did: The last couple of days, I’ve been busy downloading lots of really good info. A few minutes ago, I decided that I would like some herbal tea so got everything ready to make it in the coffee maker (the water goes into the resevoir & down into the pot which contains the tea bag).

I waited a few minutes & then realized that the water wasn’t coming out. I said to myself “Why isn’t this downloading?” I laughed when I realized what I had said.

(I had plugged it into the right outlet… but I hadn’t turned it on.)


I laughed out loud when I read Sandi’s note. As for me, when I shut my eyes, I tend to see multiple browser tabs.

What do you think? Is it time to weed and focus your marketing efforts for 2010? It is for me: I’m biting the bullet and working hard at being more organized, with time for my goals; not just clients’. (You’ll know if I’m succeeding or not with the “time for my goals” thing by the number of posts here, this year!)

What are you doing to reclaim your life for 2010?