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Paranoid & Picky Client - Or - Insensitive Copy Work


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12 replies to this topic

#1 bobmeetin

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 10:37 AM

I'm working with a very small business, developing their first website, and of course coming up with copy to support a niche service, i.e. they provide a single service to a local region and have both local competitors as well as national competitors.

Beyond describing the service there really isn't a lot you can say. I've had to be a little creative in coming up with content, accurate content.

I put together a nice FAQ page, incorporated most of what they gave me, but in looking through competitors' sites found some additional relevant questions as well as some questions I, myself, would ask as a consumer.

Upon review they requested that they did not want these types of questions (and answers) on their website. I don't mind 'striking' some of the content which as it turns out they have some good reason for not answering, but I'm struggling a bit with whether I am insensitive or they are overly paranoid and picky on some of the other copy.

I also set up a resources page with

1) Preferred Services
2) News and Interesting Articles
3) Just for Fun

and a Link to Us message. My thinking is to illustrate some openness, show a little rounded-ness (is that a word?), and just plain add something interesting or fun to the site. It was a bit of a struggle to find relevant, interesting articles to list. I googled, found a couple, reviewed the copy, added the titles/links.

One was a link to a Wikipedia entry on the service. Another was a link to a major news article on the service. When I read both entries, I saw interesting commentary. As it turned out, if you look a little more closely the national competitors' sign is displayed in some of the pictures and of course they don't like that.

I tend to think this is genuinely irrelevant and that they are hyper paranoid, but knowing who I am, I need to hear some objective feedback.

With limited budget it's going to be a struggle to be able to devote much time to link building. They do have some sister type services that they refer folks to beyond their region. I put one of these in the Preferred Services section and got the 3rd degree.

This is amounting to a ton of long-winded explanations. Feedback please?



#2 copywriter

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 10:43 AM

Been there, done that smile.gif

So, is your question whether or not you're being insensitive? There's no way to know without being in the middle of the circumstances. I haven't spoken with or met your client. It is entirely possible that they are being too picky. I've seen many that are. Communication is usually the fix to problems like these. If you haven't already done so, ask the client before adding more content. Tell them what you propose before uploading it to the site. Find out ahead of time what they will and will not approve.

Can you say what type of site is it? Just thinking that I or others could help you generate content ideas.


#3 bobmeetin

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 10:56 AM

It's a too-sided question I guess.

1) Are they being super picky and overly sensitive, leading to self-imposed limits?
2) Yes, am I being insensitive to their circumstances?

I don't wish to publicly share any kind of information which could ever lead back to the business, so sorry, gotta be a little vague here. There have been a number of times where in either conversations, verbal or email, I hear excessive caution in sharing some factual info about the service.

With regard to the Wikipedia and news article, my general feeling is that very few people are going to take the effort and both read the entries then look/see that their are background pics that have a competitors' sign. They did, of course, and ask why I am advertising for the competition. But I am not them...

I can easily disable the Resources page and not engage in the debate.


#4 SEOreports

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 01:09 PM

Your best bet will be to communicate with the client and find out the direction they want to go. After all, it is their website and they are paying you.

If you disagree, you can always walk away.


I agree with your client, with regard to the wikipedia article and news articles. Their website should NOT be promoting someone else's brand.


Steve

#5 Jill

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 09:39 AM

Does the client have a unique selling proposition (USP)? And if so, can you write about that? I'd want that on my site more than other people's articles.

If they don't have a USP, is that something you could help them come up with?

#6 bobmeetin

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 11:58 AM

I have removed the Resources page for the time being, leaving 5 total pages (including contact). About the best is see here is getting some reciprocal links with business associates in the future.

There is nothing particularly unique about the service, nor about how they service. Unless of course that fact that they answer the phone as opposed to being connected with an operator and that has been mentioned.

The trouble we run into now is that the tight budget has been exhausted in developing the site and content, no time spent with obtaining any quality inbound links, well aside from google and yahoo local. If anyone here can point me to some creative process/techniques to come up with quality, inbound links for Ma-Pa shops with a limited budget, talk to me. This is one area that I can certainly do better.

#7 copywriter

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 12:31 PM

You may want to take your last post and move it to the link building section.



#8 Randy

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 05:37 PM

They need a USP. Absolutely, positively must have something that differentiates them from similar offerings by other companies.

If they don't nobody is going to bother to link to them, nor is anybody going to be spurred to buy from them. It's that important, so cannot be missing from the marketing plan if there is to be any hope for success.

#9 bobmeetin

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 01:16 PM

Here is where I can use some advice. Maybe this really does belong in link building (is this something I can do myself?) but this is where help is needed. I, probably many of us, work with lots of small businesses, brick-mortar. They offer a very specific, very unglamorous service in their locale/region.

There really isn't too much you can say to describe the service. They do a great job, offer great responsiveness to phone calls, etc. - But what they do does not lend itself to tons of content. In this specific case, they pride themselves on answering the phone, whereas you have to go through hoops with both the large and small similar services to get a quote.

There are bigger companies around, national companies, who do the same service but offer all sorts of bells and whistles. more fluff. The big boys put money into adwords as well.

So I build the websites for these business types. Randy has mentioned some article submission sites to test as possible inbound link options. What can you write in an article to talk to this service? Without laboring the point of the benefit or not of reciprocal linking with similar small business, how or what plan should we pursue to obtain some quality inbound links?

#10 SelfMade

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:30 PM

If I owned a company building sandcastles..I bet I could get 2 pages of content out of it.

Primary Rule: You must have content sites will want to link to in the first instance. Sometimes its hard to get that content...but, then thats why there is such a thing as professional copywriters...last resort option..but it is still an option never the less!

unsure.gif

#11 copywriter

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 02:43 PM

And herein lies the problem wink1.gif Don't focus exclusively on the services/products. You'd do better to focus on the end results the customer gets after working with the company(ies) you build sites for.

Here's a for instance. That sandcastle company smile.gif... for website copy, don't write about the features and benefits of a sandcastle so much as the end results the sandcastle owner will get after using your clients' company. Instead of "Our sandcastles are higher and sturdier. We make more beautiful sandcastles than the other guys (which the other guys are saying, too!)..." Talk with the reader about how their life will change after they hire your client to build their sandcastle.

"Creativity is in the eye of the beholder. Your personal taste and style aren't exactly like anyone else's. As the process moves forward, you'll appreciate the hassle-free option to make design changes to sandcastle templates at any time prior to construction. What's more, you'll have ready access to your representative through office phone, mobile phone and email seven days a week to ensure transparent communication. As you look out over the open ocean and see the flag of your sandcastle waving in the breeze, you'll breathe a sigh of contentment knowing you made the right choice for sandcastle construction."



There needs to be a least 1 differentiating factor. And it preferably needs to be something other than service and here's why. Good customer service, personalized customer service, etc., etc. is over used and has become a meaningless cliche. Even if it is true, nobody believes it. In fact, hardly anybody even acknowledges it as a benefit. If you just *have* to use service as the differentiating factor, don't say it in the copy. Let others say it for you through testimonials, etc.





#12 Mhoram

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:17 PM

In my experience with creating web pages and content for clients (and the reason I used to avoid that part of the business), you need to budget double the amount you estimate it will cost to create it: one half to create the initial copy or whatever, and another half for completely redoing it when they decide what they really want. Often it's like pulling teeth to get people to tell you what they want on a site at first, even something as simple as getting them to pick out a couple colors they like. But once you have something they can see, it's easy for them to tell you what they don't like, and then you can work from there to narrow down what they will like. So if your budget only covers initial creation, you need to charge more, so you can toss something out there for them to critique, and then be flexible about the inevitable modifications.

#13 Randy

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 06:12 PM

Are these companies actually local to you bobmeetin?

If so, here's a little trick I used to utilize back in the day when I designed (usually the first ever) site for local companies, because no local business owner seems to be able to wrap their head around what their real value is to their customers.

I'd take part of a day out, hopefully a fairly busy day with lots of customers around, to actually show up at their store/office/whatever. Then I'd talk to their customers, or more importantly Listen to their customers. Nothing long and drawn out, just pick up on some of the comments people made to the clerks or sales people. Every now and then politely ask a customer if they had a minute or two to tell me what they most liked about the business. What made them keep coming back.

Take notes. Or carry a little tape recorder. You'll not only get pages and pages of potential content, but you'll know exactly what the USP is that drives current customers to come back over and over. wink1.gif

That's the kind of stuff no small business owner ever does. So the answers might even be incredibly enlightening for their other local marketing efforts. If you can get the business owner to buy in you might even hand out 10% off or whatever coupons to those customers who take part in the survey. Though that's not usually needed in my experience. (Make sure to put an expiration date on these coupons if you go that route.)

If the small businesses aren't local to you this is much harder to accomplish. I've had the business themselves try to do this a few times over the years, but they either don't ask the right questions or don't listen well enough to what they're being told.




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