Monday, December 21, 2009


7 Key Tips For Engaging That New Client:

The Discovery Phase

Congratulations! You landed a web seo OR OPTIMIZED copy writing gig and you’re about to discuss the project with your new client. Usually these chats take place by phone since your client could well be a few time zones away.

Now, during this initial conversation – sometimes called discovery – your objective is to ask the right questions and take careful notes. The closer you come on your first draft the faster you move on to the next assignment. (And the happier your clients!)

So, during this initial conversation, here’s what you want to make clear:

Objective. What is the objective of your writing? To sell a product or service? To inform? Persuade? Exactly what are the objectives of the client? Some will tell you they want to see a 100% jump in conversion rate within 60 days. Make sure the client has reasonable expectations.

You can write better than Hunter Thompson but you have no control over what your client does to promote his or her site so never make any guarantees or even promises. Just get the #1 objective and secondary objectives down on paper.

Demographic. Who is the client targeting? Teens? Boomers? Car owners? Republicans? In order to tailor the message properly you have to know who forms the sweet spot within the target demographic.

Then, you have to learn what these people need and what drives them. It’s a process.

Most desired action. What is the MDA? In most cases, it’s to convert a visitor to a buyer, i.e., sell something. But sometimes it’s to capture an email address, complete a form, pick up the telephone and call. Or all of the above. Your client will know precisely what the MDA is.

Then, as you’re writing, all of your sell points point directly at getting that MDA performed ASAP and as often as possible, as well.

Logistics. Exchange all pertinent contact information and ask the client how s/he would like to work. I usually develop a simple “reaction” piece, kinda like raw meat that all stakeholders can tear to shreds. “Too academic. Not academic enough. Wrong tone. Excellent tone. Too broad in scope, not broad enough blah, blah.”

This gives me a starting point. Even better, it makes the client a stakeholder because s/he’s the one who told you to do it this way and it’s tough to back off your own directions.

Milestones. The web writer’s favorite subject and the client’s least favorite. Best to get it out of the way during the discovery phase.

Create milestones and a payment schedule tied to those milestones: 30% on starting, 20% on deliver of first draft, 30% on delivery of final draft and 20% on final proofing. This way, everybody knows what the rules are.

Never commit to a job that pays “on completion.” You have no leverage and, believe me, you will be stiffed.

Finally, ask the client how s/he wants to communicate. Email or phone. Either way, provide regular progress reports and continue to feed content to the client for revisions. BTW, expect revisions. Everybody wants to put their nose on your baby.

Write it all up in a statement of work or letter of agreement and start your keyword research and copy writing.

You’ve got a deadline.

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