02/27/2009: "What Copywriting Clients Want and What You Should Give Them."
It's hard to please many copywriting clients. You may be the greatest copywriter alive. But you'll get your share of dissatisfied clients. Or, if you offer refunds (a very bad practice), you'll get lots of them as people will use you and then ask for their money back. Don't offer refunds. Doctors don't. Lawyers don't. You shouldn't. That is for products and non-professionals.
But, I digress.
Why are some clients dissatisfied? The reason, in most cases, is simple. They expect you to regurgitate their thinking and write their thoughts and ideas --- not yours. Of course, they won't tell you that. They may not even know that's what they want. But, it is.
I'll give you an example. A client wanted a print ad. I interviewed him for about an hour and recorded the conversation, as is my practice. In going over the interview, I captured the whole ad in his own words. I wrote the ad and he loved it. Why? Not because of my writing but rather because he heard his own beloved voice in the ad. He heard his precious thoughts and ideas in his ears and through his eyes.
The ad didn't pull too well so he asked me to write another one. This time I wrote it using my own thinking and style and it pulled extremely well.
Having said that, many times the client will give you extremely valuable information in the interview. It can be incorporated in the advertising. But, not always. The client is in love with his own thoughts, his own ideas. What many want is for you to write his thoughts and ideas. It's your job to determine if that's in his own best interest or not. If you decide it's not and use your own judgment, he probably will not like your copy. But, if he's smart enough to use it, he'll be grateful.
Taking this a bit further, clients want great copy and wonderful service. Trouble is, they don't want to pay for it. For example, you can get slogans written from $395 for a package to $2000 a package to $20,000 or more. What makes the difference in price? Usually it's the amount of time and work the copywriter puts into the job of creating the slogan.
My preference when creating a slogan is to interview a number of my client's customers. That will generally give me the USP (unique selling proposition) and lots of other valuable information. But, in reality, that's expensive. It takes lots of my time. Lots fo work. And the fee would be around $15,000 to $20,000. Clients won't or can't pay that.
So I offer a package. I work from the information they send me. It's hard to come up with a really terrific slogan that way. That means some dissatisfied clients. Clients simply do not understand how much work is involved in "real" copywriting. And, frankly, most of us can't afford to do that sort of copywriting because clients will not pay for it.
The executives of Nike didn't especially like the "Just Do It" slogan when they first heard it. But Dan Wieden, of Wieden and Kennedy Advertising Agency believed they had a winner. Of course, he was right and the Nike executives were wrong.
The bottom line is this: You'll not please all of your clients. Many will be totally unhappy with you. Don't let them get you down or make you feel as if you're not good at your craft. If they don't even try your copy, they have absolutely no way to know if it's good or not. Their judgment is not the final word on the value of your copy. You should always write to make sales --- not to please your clients.
Famous copywriter, Eugene Schwartz, said that he missed the mark many times with his writing. No one hits the ball out of the park every time. But, if you're a good copywriter, your value is not diminished by one or two or a dozen unhappy clients. Nor is it diminished by some ads that don't work. There are many reasons ads don't work. Not all of it has to do with copy.
Forget the dissatisfied clients. Give clients what they're willing to pay for. That's all you can be expected to do.