As a copywriter, I look past the dirt, clutter and dusty facades of businesses to find the gold. It’s the gold I use as the basis for my clients’ communications. I ask my clients to come to me with a certain level of understanding and willingness to see gold beneath the scruffiness of early drafts.
Unfortunately, I suffered a mild setback after considerable emotional investment into a client who wanted his LinkedIn profile updated.
My first red flag that the relationship wasn’t working out was that I had a difficult time grasping his LinkedIn strategy. His business model and services and packages on offer were clearly stated on his website, so what was the problem?
No personality, that was the problem.
His personal brand, which came across as “the nice guy”, was difficult to put into writing. Because let’s face it, nice guys are boring.
Us copywriters are a weird bunch. We are like actors in a sense. We must channel our clients and translate their personality, their adorable quirks, sharp opinions and all, into text format. If they aren’t a character, well shit, maybe we have nothing to work with…
This guy liked to hide behind a mask online. His web communications were produced by ghostwriters who wrote in a corporate, journalistic and objective tone which did nothing to push emotional triggers and appeal to the senses. He was represented as an abstraction coming out of the professional and cliched tones of the keyboards of his content producers (probably sitting in cube-farms, hatching out words as if they were caged hens).
I was torn.
Write in his tone of voice, where he doesn’t express one single original opionion (he was no Gordon Ramsay, who’s a memorable personal brand) and come across as wishy washy, well-rounded and fluffy or do the LAZY THING and don the corporate mask?
I chose to hide behind the mask and produced mediocre, vanilla content outlining his services and packages on offer.
He hated it. Not at first of course, because he is a nice guy. He kept going along and wasting both our times as I pushed to finalise the last push on the piece of shit copy.
He also hated the few spelling and grammar errors and despite getting paid for 1 hour and putting in 4 hours of work into the relationship, I was fired without getting a chance to polish the turd.
Perhaps I should’ve been up front with him, telling him to express himself and give me some REAL STUFF instead of the shit he was feeding me about how he was saving money to his clients by retaining the good employees that his clients were keen on firing.
Ironically, he couldn’t give himself a taste of his own medicine and found it easier to fire me instead of wondering why the copy was so mediocre.
I should’ve been up front. My fault. Or, it’s the nice girl in me. Well guess what? Nice girls don’t get anywhere and neither do nice guys.
As for the experience?
It goes toward identifying what the ideal client looks, smells, tastes and feels like. I’m a girl who wants the fairy tale, the long-term commitment to keep growing with the client who like Richard Gere’s character in “Pretty Woman” is willing to take a long, hard look into himself and see that maybe he too is a prostitute and must do better going forward.
These gold nuggets only emerge when two people trust themselves and each other to keep pushing the other to do better.
Going forward, this is my professional commitment.
If I think I’m being fed bullshit, I will call it until I get something to work with and not try to shit out copy and try to polish it later.