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Archive for June 8th, 2009

It’s a bittersweet moment when a project is old enough to get its first teeth, eat solid foods and wear big boy underpants.

Last time I began an extensive (two parts!) series looking at the range of experiences in the web copywriting business.  We looked at the bada-bing, bada-boom, in and out and done quickie. This time we discuss the perfect gift for a project’s first birthday that will make all the other moms jealous.

I have teased this institutional-architecture-but-don’t-call-it-that project many times here in the blog, but never given you the URL. Now that the website is done, I thought I might send you there… Yes, you read correctly, I did say “done.” It took 9 months, but it’s done. However, the print materials still are not. Billing is ongoing, and the final checks have not been drafted. So, ID’ing the culprits will have to wait.

At any rate, you have GOT to be wondering what is taking so long. I can tell you that every web page and every piece of brochure copy has gone through about 8 drafts before it’s considered finished.

Right up front,  let me state that they didn’t take 8 drafts because I suck. Not this time, anyway. In this case, they took 8 drafts because there were SO many cooks. I really don’t know how many people were on the other end…like most of my clients, I have never met them face to face. On the conference call, it sounded like the New York Stock Exchange on the other end.

The back and forth goes something like this. I write a first draft, and submit it. It is then passed around the big table, or the distribution list, or something, picking up literary baggage and shedding value as it goes. To wit:

  • Mike: Simplicity is key.
  • Client 1: Simplicity is an important key.
  • Client 2: Simplicity is an important key factor.
  • Client 3: Simplicity is the most important key factor.
  • Client 4: A dedication to simplicity is the most important key factor.
  • Client 5: A dedication to simplicity, borne of a true desire to make concepts easy to understand, is the most important key factor.

Ten points if you caught the subtle(!) irony there. Anyway, this process absolutely brings to mind the “Spanish Inquisition” sketch from Monty Python. (Start at 40 seconds.)

It is a real ethical dilemma. I stopped adding value long ago, but I have a contract, and the meter keeps running and running and running. And that is the oddest thing…they don’t seem to care. You know how clients like to tell the lie that “it doesn’t matter what it costs…we just have to get it right”? Well, these guys mean it.

Ethical dilemma solved!

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