Okay, pop quiz, copywriters:
Once you found the client, landed the work, and written the first draft, the next step is just to send the draft back to your client with a friendly, “Let me know what you think!”, right?
(Hint: If that were right, this would be an awfully short post.)
Believe me, I certainly understand the impulse to send a draft off an get it off your plate. On to the next conquest! But the problem is that you’re doing both your client and the project a disservice to treat your first draft that way.
For your client, it’s been a long time since your input/kickoff call—no matter how recent it’s been. While all of the details of the project have been in your head since the moment the call ended, your client hasn’t had to think about it. After all, that’s why they hired you!
And that’s why it’s such a terrible idea to send through the copy without any context. You remember all of the details about your conversations, but your client may not. They may have forgotten answers they gave you, decisions you two made, or even elements they wanted to be included.
Instead of just sending through your copy, the best way to present it to a client is to get on a call with them, walk them through it, and, essentially, re-sell it to them. Give them the thinking behind the choices you’ve made and get them excited about the work you’ve done.
How do you do that? Why, I thought you’d never ask!
When you get on the call, start out by explaining the purpose of the call: to present the work and talk it through. Let them know, though, that they shouldn’t feel pressured to give feedback on the call; that they can certainly take time to review it and send feedback afterward.
Next, go back to your notes from the input/kickoff call and review the key points from your creative brief including (but not necessarily limited to!) the purpose of the project, the benefit to consumer, the target audience, the action you want the audience to take, and any required elements.
This helps get you and your client back on the same page about everything you discussed in the call.
Next, you have two options—you can either read it aloud to your client or let them read it for themselves. Really, it’s a matter of both you and your clients’ personal preferences; either way is fine.
After they’ve read it and before they get into any questions or feedback, this is a nice time to call out certain elements and explain your strategy. For example, you might say something like, “I used this subhead here because I wanted to get a bit more detail in right away since you said your audience tends to be skeptical.” Something like that—just give them a peek into your strategic thinking.
You certainly don’t need to do this for every line you wrote but it can be a good idea to explain a few choices and also reiterate in your client’s mind that every copy choice you made was very deliberate.
At this point, it might be tempting to say something like, “What do you think?” or “Do you like it?” Don’t put the pressure on your client to give you a “positive” or “negative” reaction—especially since what you really want at this point is just a little feedback to help you polish and improve the work.
The simplest way to start the conversation is to say, “Do you have any questions?” Maybe they will or maybe they won’t – the most important thing is to make your client feel comfortable with the process.
If they don’t jump in with thoughts you can remind them, “Again, you don’t need to give my feedback now—there’s a lot to look over here.” And you can follow up with something like, “Once you’ve had a chance to look it over, let me know if you want to hop on a call again to discuss feedback or just send it back to me via email. Either works just fine.”
And then you’re set!
Two things, though: Don’t worry that this process will preclude your client from raving about how much they love the work. If they’re over the moon about it, they’ll certainly let you know! But this process also helps to make any feedback a little bit easier to take and incorporate since you’ve had the chance to explain your choices and answer any of their questions.
Also, do you have to do this with every single project? Definitely not. If you’ve been working with a client for a while and the project is pretty similar to things you’ve done in the past, it’s fine to send it via email. Or if, for some reason, the client is resistant to getting on a call (maybe they’ve got a busy schedule, for example) you can send the doc via email—WITH the context points you would have covered on the call.
By and large, though, with new clients and with big projects even for less-new clients, presenting your work and “re-selling” it is the way to go and will help keep the process smooth and your clients delighted with your work.
Your turn! Are you willing to give presentation calls a try? Let me know in the comments below!