Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dealing with Revisions

I think I've mentioned before that I get Steve Slaunwhite's For Copywriters Only newsletter. Today's issue has some really good advice about dealing with unhappy clients and revision requests.

Slaunwhite lays out a six-step approach to dealing with revision requests without losing your cool... or the client. The one I liked best was Step 3, "Ask for specifics."

Have you ever had a client tell you, "This just doesn't work for me," without telling you why? I had a real nightmare of a client once that was constantly saying that, but not explaining what it was that she didn't like.

Slaunwhite's newsletter tells you to ask the client questions so that you can find out exactly what "doesn't work." His suggestions were:

-- 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 and persuasively?
-- Does the style, tone and vocabulary fit the target audience?

In retrospect, getting more specific information is exactly how I should have handled my nightmare client. Unfortunately, I don't think she even could have told me what the problem was. She hired me to revise a personal letter for her (something I will never do again), and essentially wanted me to sound just like her, even though she didn't like the way she sounded when she wrote the letter herself.

Because of my own experience, I would probably add a "Step 7" to Slaunwhite's list:

Step 7. Learn from your mistakes.

If you do steps 1 through 6, and your client is still unhappy, he or she may be chronically dissatisfied. Make a note of this character flaw, and learn to recognize the signs so that you can avoid it in future clients.

Despite my little bout of sarcasm, I do highly recommend For Copywriters Only. It comes twice a month, which is less often than some other newsletters for writers, and it is (of course) Slaunwhite's way of marketing his teleclasses. However, each newsletter usually contains some pretty valuable information or tips, which both newbies and experienced copywriters can use.

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