I’m always writing things for my clients. That’s what I do. But in some cases I might be writing with my clients.
This doesn’t necessarily mean we’re in the same room together brainstorming, writing things down, and tossing wads of crumpled paper on the floor. But we might meet over the phone or in person to talk about the document needed, its purpose, audience and the information to be included.
Sometimes I take the lead, starting a first draft. This lets me overcome that dread of the blank page that paralyzes some clients. Then the client might run the next lap, fleshing out the main concepts, with information that only they know.
Other times the client does the brain dump first and then I go in and do the cleanup on their rough draft, organizing all their information into something that has the right tone, length and if needed, with more of a marketing approach.
Any writing project can become more manageable when you have someone to help you with the parts you just don’t have time for or are just don’t like to do. So if that’s writing the first draft, I can do that. If that’s taking your rough and shaping it up, I can do that, too.
I can research the topic or you can simply tell me what you know. Or we can go into combo mode—give me the information you have and then I’ll go hunt down the rest.
Just because you’re the subject matter expert doesn’t mean you can’t get help shaping the knowledge you have into a well-organized article, web page, press release, or copy for various marketing materials.
So stop running the marathons on your own and sign up for the relay team. Let’s get your ideas down on paper and help you sell your stuff.
People always think being in marketing or advertising is fun, fun, fun.
Well, not really.
Sure there’s the creative part, but quite often people try to skip steps and get to the fun part first. You know, they want to eat dessert before they’ve had their vegetables. It’s human nature. But sometimes you just have to be an adult and do the hard work.
When coming up with creative ideas, whether it’s a corporate ID, a website, an ad, a brochure, a tradeshow display, first you have to figure out what you’re trying to say–in plain English, not in some kind of cute headline. It’s a process, not one-step instant gratification.
I sometimes call this the slogging through the mud phase. Yes, you must get down and get dirty before all becomes clean and bright. So you sort through a lot of stuff which doesn’t seem to really make sense but as you sort, gradually it becomes clearer and clearer. Suddenly you know where you need to go. Then you can come up with the way you’re going to get there.
This is something I learned when I did a two-year program of advertising classes focused on copywriting and creative concept. We studied and had to practice the process over and over. It was the same process we followed in LA at ad agencies. No coming up with the headlines and main visual, let alone writing the body copy, until you knew what the purpose of the communication was, who you were talking to and why.
Only after doing the hard work did you get your reward, getting to begin coming up with the creative for the project. Of course thinking of good creative concepts can also be hard work in its own way, but in some ways, it’s more like play—a challenge, but fun.
If you define what you want to tell your audience first, then it’s much easier come up with a creative way for the words and images to say that. Not to mention that you’ll end up with a much more effective communications piece.
The clever headline and pictures will come, but they’re not first. When you do them first what you end up is a communications piece that doesn’t work. Sure, at first glance it may look slick and professional, but if it’s not really about anything, what’s the point?
When clients want to jump ahead to the creative phase first, I try to educate them. When communications professionals I’ve encountered do it, I think, shouldn’t you know better?