The question: “How will you know what I want? Can you read minds or something?”
A potential client posed this question to me this morning. Putting the marketing pieces together for his new start-up gourmet gift company had put him in some precarious positions with previous copywriters. As it happens, the last fella he collaborated with – who knew him and had seemingly understood his vision – had let him down. He was, understandably, feeling wary about communicating with someone he’d never met. So this frustrated guy was already on the defensive but desperately wanted a professional who could take what was in his head and put it into the words he wanted…even if he couldn’t quite do that himself.
This fear of “outside” copywriters (and other creative folks, like web designers) isn’t unusual. Asking a gal you don’t know to write your marketing materials is like asking a stranger to raise your newborn for a couple of months. What if instead of feeding your baby girl milk and vegetables, she gives her chocolate covered bugs for breakfast? How will you ever get exactly what you need?
The answer: Easy: I read your mind, copywriter-style.
I don’t wear a turban or ask to see your palm. I don’t lay my hands upon a crystal ball and chant. I don’t dole out fancy playing cards, ask you to pick one and then announce which one you’ve picked. I do something far more mysterious…something that people seem to have forgotten how to do…something that is more powerful than any mumbo-jumbo….
I ask a lot of questions and listen to all your answers. That’s it. That’s the big secret. That’s how I read your mind. The very first step in my process is to create a detailed, customized questionnaire for the client that covers content, structure, goals and tone. Each question is laser-focused to dig deep into the client’s mind for specific answers. I see it as wading through oatmeal to find the golden nuggets. (That’s not to say my clients’ minds are like oatmeal…it’s more to acknowledge that wading through all the thoughts and ideas in anyone’s head – including my own – might be a little messy.) The client has no choice but to show me exactly what he wants! (Cue creepy music and maniacal laughter…)
I managed to convince the Gourmet Gifts Start Up Client that there was nothing to fear. And once he finished filling out my questionnaire, his defenses disappeared (voila!). In fact, he told me that my questions helped him to focus his business goals more specifically. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is far more magical than guessing you’re holding the three of clubs.