Tips From A Client To A Copywriter

I came across this post called Ten Tips From A Copywriter To A Client and just had to respond. I’ll reprint the blogger’s (copywriter’s) tips in italics [with some editing for the sake of space] followed by my (the client’s) comment/reply.

1. Please read a book and watch a good movie from time to time. No matter how busy you are, you can still make time for such a thing. [Y]ou SHOULD know who is David Lynch and what type of music Beastie Boys make.

OK. And in return, please put someone on my account who has read a book written before 1975 and who knows the difference between Fergie from the Blackeyed Peas and Fergie the Duchess of York.

2. You have no right to tell me HOW to write a headline and WHAT WORD I should use as long as you’re incapable of writing a correct phrase in your native language.

As long as I’m the one paying, I’ll tell you what I want to tell you. But if you think I’m wrong, then tactfully and factually tell me why you think I’m wrong. Tell me why you would suggest using a different word and why the word I’m suggesting “might” not be the most effective one to use.

3. If you already have a headline that you know you’ll use no matter if it’s shitty or not, just go ahead and tell that to the agency. No need for the copywriter to come up with hundreds of headlines that you know you’re gonna turn down.

Please re-read the reply to tip #2.

4. Please don’t write a brief with specific instructions on what image to use, where to use it, what the text is and exactly how the ad should look. You’re talking to an ad agency not a production shop. You do your job, let us do ours.

My “job” is to be accountable for results. If you view your “job” as simply writing headlines and copy, then we have a problem. I’ll repeat: If you don’t like what I’m telling you, then tactfully and factually tell me why you think I’m wrong and why you would suggest a different course of action.

5. If you’re not sure that you’ll actually do an ad then please don’t waste the agency’s time by making them do a final version just so you can say: “Yeah, it’s very good, but we’re not gonna do anything.”

On behalf of my firm, and others like it, let me apologize to you. Shit happens (usually political shit). Budgets come and budgets go. Plans — even those supposedly set in stone — change. I’m not intentionally jerking your chain.

6. When you kill an idea, kill it with arguments. Even if you don’t have any arguments just pretend that you have and make something up.

Make something up just to make you feel better about it? My trusted relationships aren’t built on lies designed to assuage each other’s egos. I’ve been in my business for a long time — I have strongly developed opinions and theories about what works and what doesn’t. But sometimes, those opinions and theories are so deeply ingrained, I’m not even aware of them. Ask smart questions to help me elaborate on them and uncover the arguments I have — but might not have related to you — for killing an idea.

7. Never fire an agency without any reasons. Word tends to get around and you’ll soon end up working with the lowest of the low since all the other agencies will refuse your account.

Agreed.

8. Treat the agency exactly as you want to be treated by it. An agency is a client’s partner, not a client’s slave. I’ll repeat that one: AGENCY = PARTNER.

Get real. I’m paying you for your work, while I take all the responsibility and accountability for the ROI. You’re not a partner — you share NONE of the risk. The smart agencies know this. (And by the way — take my firm’s logo off that slide you have in your new client pitches that lists me as one of your “partners”).

9. Never ask the agency to do an ad exactly like the one you saw done by some other agency for some other client. That’s not the agency’s job. It’s offensive even to think that an agency will copy some other agency’s work just to get your account.

Please understand that when I ask you to do that, that I’m giving you a clue to what I want. And again, if you think I need something different, then tactfully and factually tell me why you think I’m wrong.

10. The last tip is this: LISTEN. Listen to what the agency has to say. It’s our job to make great ads for you, ads that work, ads that sell, ads that awe. So listen to what we have to say. Trust us. We know what works and what doesn’t.

Nobody knows what works and what doesn’t. Your experience has helped you form opinions about what works and what doesn’t — and unless you give me rational, factual, and mature arguments for why you think I should be doing something differently, then you haven’t earned the right to be listened to.

I listen to the firms that earn the right to be my trusted advisors. I’ll listen to you when you demonstrate that you understand my business, understand my issues, and go above and beyond the letter of our contract to help me manage, grow, and improve my business. Your tips from a copywriter to a client showed none of the traits I’m looking for in a trusted advisor.

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[Note: Thanks to Adelino for his help with this]

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