Archive for August 19th, 2008

There’s a difference between sales and politics. To me, selling is a response to an actual need. The client needs a single, simple something. In response, you try to sell him three deluxe somethings and the extended warranty. Underneath the hoopla (and the optional rust-proofing) there’s a need in there somewhere, and it’s usually the client’s.

Politics is about manipulation. It’s about pushing the levers, pressing the buttons, pulling the strings (and exhausting the idioms.)  If there’s a need in there, it’s your need for the client to do something your way, for whatever reason.

How does this relate to copywriting (because it should, right)? Actually, I find myself in this position often.  I get inspired during the writing process and start off in a direction that is not exactly what we agreed to. Pretty close but, in my opinion, better. When it comes time to submit the draft, I start to wonder how am I going to present this? How am I going to couch it? How am I going to slip it over the transom/under the radar/through the keyhole?

Now, here’s where the true Marketing Communications pros would swoop in and apply their mastery of human nature. “We’ll point them towards X, but they’ll resist and try to pick Y. Then we’ll hit them with Z, which is actually X with just enough Y in it to make them think that it was their idea.’

Manipulative? Absolutely, but I don’t mean it in a bad way…as long as you’re acting in the client’s best interest. I think this kind of scheming is an art form. I wish I had any talent for it whatsoever, but I don’t.

I am just a copywriter, so my writing has to speak for itself. So I submit the draft. I don’t write a preamble “warning” them that this won’t be exactly what we discussed. I don’t ask them to have an open mind. I just present it, hope that it flies, and try to prepare myself for any potential objections.  No tricks, no ploys, no angle.

On the other hand…

It just occurred to me that, as far as managing client expectations, my candid confession of not having an angle is actually an angle…and a really good one! So forget everything I just said.

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