When it comes to working with others, there are simple rules that tend to do well on a global scale:
Share your toys. Always smile. Be courteous, but be honest. Listen.
Now that I’ve been working in the content and social media marketing world for 5 years, there is one challenge that many writers face. Coincidentally, it’s also the biggest hurdle for our clients and their businesses as well: playing well with others.
How do we maintain and generate a positive writer-client relationship? Potentially more important is how do we create a positive client-customer relationship? Like it or not, as writers we provide the relationship for every business that we work with. Sure, the company mission, personality, logo, and overall theme are given to us as parameters and guidelines, but we are in charge of bridging the gap between “hearing about” and “knowing about” any brand or business out there.
Understanding what we can do as writers and content providers for our clients will make a world of difference when it comes to establishing positive relationships with everyone involved. Playing well with others takes on a whole new meaning now, doesn’t it?
What do clients really want?
To be listened to.
This is a hard sell, mostly because while we’re spending so much time marketing ourselves– our talents, endless hours of writing samples, experience, and glowing reviews– the people reaching out to us don’t need any more of that.
The first sale has already been done. They have decided to work with us, so now we work with them.
Find out what makes their approach unique, such as a theme that anyone can get behind. Does the law firm you’re writing for compost in their office and have a plastic bottle ban? Great! Use their environmentally friendly office practices to provide a new dimension to their content. This is how you penetrate the “knowing about” barrier to get to the soul of your client’s business. It gives real, tangible life to their company that all consumers are desperate to find.
Be courteous, but be honest. Don’t forget to smile.
Let’s face it: we put on our happy face when we work with any client. Our courtesy comes flowing through us in an effort to establish an agreement for a project or assignment. It’s, in all honesty, why many clients choose to seal the deal and say “yes.” No one wants to work with a Quasimodo hunching over their keyboard, tip tapping nonsense-ridden content for their business.
Stay true to your courteous side; it’s also all the natural charm you’ve got. Use it to your advantage when working with others, and others will (likely) be nice to you. Trouble brews once you’ve provided some content and the client uses their honest side with you.
“It’s too wordy.”
“It needs revisions.”
“Re-write the third paragraph, and make the second paragraph a new closing.”
No matter what honesty your client brings to the table, tackle it with courtesy. There are no secret penmanship awards given to writers who use their attitude as a rebuttal.
Gracefully accept their revisions, edits, or comments as though they are your teacher. Use them as a guideline and provide at least 75% of what they ask for.
That last 25% is where your honesty can come to the party. Occupy that 25% as preferred diction, structure, and grammar– anything your attitude desires.
Share your toys.
Kids in a sandbox work best when they share their toys. Everyone gets a chance to use the shovel, the sandcastle mold, and the bucket. So long as each child gets to play with each toy, everything is peachy.
The same goes in the content world. If the client wants to heavily edit, reformat, and change your work it’s an ideal situation. They are getting into the nitty gritty of what you wrote and are loving it!
They want to see you make something better; something that will truly captivate them and their audience.
Appreciate every client you encounter. With your glowing smile and courtesies in place, all the while listening to them, working with anyone will become a lot easier.