My Client (or Boss) Hates My Copy!
“I have a few concerns about the copy you wrote and we need to talk.” Ouch! If there is anything that a boss or client can say that will send a shudder down even the most thick-skinned copywriter, that would be it.
No doubt about it. It can be distressing when someone is less than pleased with your work. It's hard not to take it personally, feel discouraged, or even get depressed.
So what do you do when your boss or client does not like what you wrote? Ideally, you want him or her to feel reassured that a prompt revision — by you, of course — will make it all better.
Here is a six-step strategy that works very well in these situations:
Step One: Don't Be Defensive
You want feedback, not combat. Listen carefully to your boss or client and try to determine what went wrong. Be open to criticism, suggestions, and new ideas. Don't act angry or defensive, even if you disagree. Be the consummate professional.
Step Two: Explain Your Approach
Sometimes a boss or client doesn't understand why you wrote something the way you did. You may need to explain your strategy, or justify a particular copy element.
For example, in a sales letter you wrote for a small company the owner noticed that you used a P.S. (postscript). He balks, “Is that really necessary? It looks kind of gimmicky to me.” You can simply explain that using a P.S. is very effective (as you learned in Chapter 10) and that you recommend it be kept. The owner will likely take your advice.
Step Three: Ask for Specifics
Never accept vague feedback like, “Paragraph three just doesn't work for me.” Nail down specifics. Ask your boss or client such questions as:
“Are all the facts correct?”
“Am I missing anything?”
“Is there any extraneous information I should delete?”
“Are there any awkward passages or transitions?”
“Did I explain all the features and benefits clearly?”
“Does the style, tone, and vocabulary fit the target audience?”
Don't guess. Know what needs to be fixed before you revise the copy.
Step Four: Confirm
Once you have gone through the copy and clarified the areas that need revision, confirm these details with your boss or client. Make sure you are both in agreement as to what changes need to be made.
Step Five: Set a Deadline
Never say, “I'll turn this revision around in a couple of days.” Always confirm exactly when you'll complete and submit the revised draft. Your commitment to an exact deadline is very reassuring to a boss or client.
Step Six: Complete the Revisions Exactly as Directed
When revising the copy, you may be tempted to explore new angles or try new ideas. Don't. Complete the revisions exactly as requested. If you have a great idea, present it separately.
These six steps are very effective. It's not uncommon for a boss or client to quickly go from being critical of your copy to praising your writing skills! So the next time you receive the dreaded “I've reviewed your copy. We need to talk…” call, you'll know what to do. Keep your chin up. Follow the steps. Act professional. Then get to work on those revisions!