12/17/2010: "A Smart Copywriter Doesn't Try Too Hard To Please the Client."
It's understandable that most copywriters want to please their clients. They want to write sales copy that the client will love and for which the copywriter will be highly complimented. It's good for the ego. The trouble with placing such high importance on pleasing the client, however, is that the client usually doesn't know best in these matters. He doesn't have the foggiest idea of what good sales copy is. He isn't aware of the hot button words and persuasive tricks you've used that will likely get him a high conversion rate. All he knows is that he either does or does not like what you've written.
Most copywriters, in their effort to please the client, will write and rewrite until his good copy becomes commonplace. It becomes a carbon copy of the client's thinking. It's often even his own words fed back to him. It becomes the client's words and not the words of a professional sales writer. The result? No sales or poor sales. And, of course, the copywriter gets blames. Either way, the copywriter gets blamed. The only time he isn't credited with the result is if the client gets lots of sales by using the copy. Then the client takes full credit.
The good copywriter writes to get results. He doesn't write to win awards from his peers for how cool and entertaining his copy is. He doesn't write to get hugged by the client.
One of the most famous ads ever written was the Apple Computer ad for the Super Bowl in 1984. When the commercial was produced in 1983, it cost over $6 million -- the most expensive TV spot ever produced up to that time.
When the finished commercial was shown to Apple's board of directors, they hated it. They wanted to cancel the media buy. Chiat Day, Apple's ad agency, paid for four focus groups out of their own pocket to prove to the client it was a great spot. Guess what? All four of the groups hated it too. Chiat Day convinced Apple to run the spot against their better judgement. The rest is history. It turned out to be one of the most successful, most famous ads in the world. It gave Apple a great start and it made them lots of money.
I never guarantee to please my clients. Fact is, I tell them upfront they may not like their copy. But they hire me because I'm an expert at what I do. You may not like the treatment the doctor gives you. But if it makes you well, you're glad you followed his advice. You may think your lawyer has a horrible personality and you hate the fact he's fat and smokes cigars. But if he wins your case, you really don't care how disgusting he is. All you want is a win.
We're professionals at what we do. At least a large percentage of us are. I know there are a lot of beginning copywriters out there who have no idea what they're doing. I'm talking here to the pros.
Don't let clients talk you into changing copy that you know to be good. Don't guarantee to please them. If you do, you lose and your client loses. And that's not what professional copywriting is all about.