Copywriting for a Type A client

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I'm preparing a messaging framework for a client who is a bit more nuts-and-bolts than I'm used to and I'm curious how fellow copywriters might respond.

Typically I would walk a client through each step in the framework over the course of a 60-minute phone call, being careful to point out why we chose specific verbiage and how it all plugs into their marketing strategy. But I get the sense this client would prefer a one-page email that summarizes everything in broad, general terms, and anything that takes more than 5 minutes of his time would be seen as excessive.

In my mind we're selling him a puppy, something he will have to take care of and pay attention to. It seems he views our services more like an HVAC system, something that will work fine if it is installed correctly and won't have to be replaced for 20 years.

So that's the conundrum: Do I craft a framework robust enough to withstand years of neglect and cross my fingers he won't misuse it and get mad at us, or do I convey to him how the framework is meant to be adjusted and adapted over time and will require his attention and energy? I don't see option B happening on any meaningful level. Fortunately he has assigned a manager to liaise who is far more interested in the nature of our work, but the client still needs to give final approval and this is the part of the process I see becoming a challenge.

I'm grateful for any help or input the warrior community can provide.
#client #copywriting #type
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    It seems he views our services more like an HVAC system, something that will work fine if it is installed correctly and won't have to be replaced for 20 years.
    In what way is that a Type A client? He sounds to me like the very opposite.

    Marcia Yudkin
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    • Profile picture of the author Stephen Floyd
      When I say Type A, I mean someone who is more adept at moving forward with a vision than slowing down to observe the minutia. It's a trait common among leaders who are better at motivating and guiding a team than they are at sitting down and planning, and I suspect this client is the former.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery
    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    I'm preparing a messaging framework for a client who is a bit more nuts-and-bolts than I'm used to and I'm curious how fellow copywriters might respond.
    What do you mean by "messaging framework"? Do you mean a series of emails?

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    Typically I would walk a client through each step in the framework over the course of a 60-minute phone call, being careful to point out why we chose specific verbiage and how it all plugs into their marketing strategy. But I get the sense this client would prefer a one-page email that summarizes everything in broad, general terms, and anything that takes more than 5 minutes of his time would be seen as excessive.
    Today's email recipients prefer to spend one minute or less reading an email, newsletter, etc. and your client may know this is a form of "conversion" and that is why s/he wants "copy" from a copywriter service.

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    In my mind we're selling him a puppy, something he will have to take care of and pay attention to. It seems he views our services more like an HVAC system, something that will work fine if it is installed correctly and won't have to be replaced for 20 years.
    Your client has a specific need for your service (any service) that converts. Either you provide a service that converts or s/he will find a service that can.

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    So that's the conundrum: Do I craft a framework robust enough to withstand years of neglect and cross my fingers he won't misuse it and get mad at us, or do I convey to him how the framework is meant to be adjusted and adapted over time and will require his attention and energy? I don't see option B happening on any meaningful level. Fortunately he has assigned a manager to liaise who is far more interested in the nature of our work, but the client still needs to give final approval and this is the part of the process I see becoming a challenge.
    You are overthinking it. Simply give the customer what s/he wants or at the very least two different versions of A and B and let the customer decide. Just be careful, do not insist.

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    I'm grateful for any help or input the warrior community can provide.
    Keep us informed please.
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  • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
    From Wikipedia:

    Type A and Type B personality hypothesis describes two contrasting personality types. In this hypothesis, personalities that are more competitive, highly organized, ambitious, impatient, highly aware of time management or aggressive are labeled Type A, while more relaxed, less "neurotic", "frantic", "explainable" personalities are labeled Type B.
    Someone who views copywriting as like an HVAC system that can stay in place for 20 years is a Type B personality, not Type A.

    Sorry to harp on this, but you shouldn't twist concepts to mean something that you arbitrarily have in your head.

    Marcia Yudkin
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    • Profile picture of the author Stephen Floyd
      I'm more familiar with quadrant-based psychographic theory, which is a further breakdown of the A-B concept. In this model, Type A carries a more specific definition, as detailed here:

      https://www.hiresuccess.com/help/und...sonality-types
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      • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
        Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

        I'm more familiar with quadrant-based psychographic theory, which is a further breakdown of the A-B concept. In this model, Type A carries a more specific definition, as detailed here:

        https://www.hiresuccess.com/help/und...sonality-types
        From that site:
        What are the turnoffs, dislikes, and fears of the Type A personality?
        Touchy-feely things
        Long explanations or descriptions

        Now, and I can only hope you take this in the spirit it is given, intended to help you with your copy writing pursuits...

        Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing. As dangerous as too little.

        It is good to know all of that, and many have studied the psychology behind the copy, some to the Nth degree. And many will point to these sites...but few have used the INSTRUMENTS of personality identification as listed.

        I have.

        As a county Job Coach and Job Developer for a large county agency, I had to administer some of these tests, and in collaboration with a team of professionals, DECODE them..and get the results RIGHT.

        Myers-Briggs was one of them, and DISC as well as others. They are nifty little tools, and maybe, across the board, across the whole spectrum of personalities, much like Astrology signs...they contain some generalities of a given "personality", BUT,

        when it comes to any given INDIVIDUAL the nuances are so different, you'll spend a lot of time wanting to place a round looking oval into a circle, and find out it just doesn't fit.

        So, knowing some of your clients are going to be the "A" as you point out, then don't you need to modify YOUR approach, and toss out that 60 minutes up front, you can get it, but don't demand it at first, use a small step approach to lead your client to the well you want him to drink from.

        As an aside, I think you may be too smart for your own good, so MUCH copy doesn't need to be that thought about.

        In most cases, you could be selling bananas to monkeys. Don't make it so complicated.

        GordonJ
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    I agree with Jeffery that you may be over-thinking - perhaps more over-analyzing than necessary. It doesn't matter what the client's personality type is - and it is not an insult to you that he is not interested in the details.

    The client HIRED a manager to handle the project. Could it be the client has no interest in a 60 minute phone call or the detailed minutiae of the project? A client does not hire a manager for a project unless he's ready to 'sign off' on it.

    Why not ASK the client to what extent he wants to be involved personally - and how much of the training/details/etc should be done directly with the manager instead of the client?
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  • Way too much verbiage gowin' on here imho.

    Question I wanna ask is ... how 'nuts-and-bolts' is your typical client walkthrough?

    Remembah: screwin' stuff is kinda myootyool.

    So ... you got Spidey sense SEEMIN' gowin' on, 'longside a tested struckchah means you don't gotta ask no questions.

    I would wanna ask the client 'bout summa this -- preferably without comin' ovah all stoopid.

    They got one half of the ansahs, aftah all.

    So ... move your supposition closah to their raison d'etre.

    (If'n that ain't the basis for no perfect pickup line, I don't know what is.)
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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    Interestingly said my dear Princess.

    It's taken me 3 years to decode your secret alphabet. And I'm starting to think we have a lot of thoughts in common. We should work together sometime.

    But today is not about you and me. Today is about Mr. Floyd...

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    I'm preparing a messaging framework for a client who is a bit more nuts-and-bolts than I'm used to and I'm curious how fellow copywriters might respond.
    Not sure exactly what you mean by messaging framework, Stephen.

    Are you talking about preparing a proposal for a full campaign?

    Or are you just talking about explaining to this guy how a single piece of copy works?

    Or do you mean something else?

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    Typically I would walk a client through each step in the framework over the course of a 60-minute phone call, being careful to point out why we chose specific verbiage and how it all plugs into their marketing strategy. But I get the sense this client would prefer a one-page email that summarizes everything in broad, general terms, and anything that takes more than 5 minutes of his time would be seen as excessive.
    This might not be what you want to hear. And I'm not trying to be harsh or mean, especially since I don't know anything about your client, your relationship with him, or what you're working on (refer to my question above).

    But picking up where Princess left off, it sounds like the mistake was made during the first interview you had with this guy. And expectations on both sides were not clearly identified.

    You expected a 60 minute phone call. He expects a 1 page summary. And now you're both left frustrated because of unspoken expectations.

    I can't speak for how anyone else runs their business, some low end copywriters like to just throw the copy at the client and then move on to the next customer, but when I work with a client it's a partnership.

    We're working together towards a common goal (their goal) and two way communication is always important.

    And if they can't (or won't) take the time to sit down with me and talk about their marketing campaign, then we don't need a crystal ball to tell us frustration will probably be big part of this job.

    I might still accept the project (if the price is right) but the price just doubled because now I know I have two jobs...

    One job is writing a campaign that gets results, and the second job is being a therapist to someone who will likely complain about all their unspoken expectations not being met.

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    So that's the conundrum: Do I craft a framework robust enough to withstand years of neglect and cross my fingers he won't misuse it and get mad at us, or do I convey to him how the framework is meant to be adjusted and adapted over time and will require his attention and energy?
    This question tells me you're still new to this game. And that's OK, we all need to start somewhere. But here's the thing...

    Unless you're working on a quick, short form ad... You need to tell him every campaign requires testing, measuring and adjusting.

    Rarely do we hit a homerun on the first swing at bat. And even if we get lucky, it can still probably be better.

    And eventually even the best sales copy gets stale and needs to be updated or completely redone.

    Times change... situations change... markets change...

    Marketing campaigns and sales copy need to change with the times, situations, and markets.

    On a rare occasion a sales piece will last for many years, but these days that's more rare than it's ever been before.

    Either way, as an expert it's your obligation to explain to your client there is no "set-it and forget-it" in this game.

    It's all about testing, measuring, and making adjustments. Until the results are acceptable enough to move on to the next thing. (or until we decide it's no longer worth the effort)

    Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

    I don't see option B happening on any meaningful level. Fortunately he has assigned a manager to liaise who is far more interested in the nature of our work, but the client still needs to give final approval and this is the part of the process I see becoming a challenge.
    Based solely on what you've written here, the best advice I can give you right now is to explain that he needs to give you what you need (including two way communication), so you can give him the results he wants.

    If you don't see that as an option, then I suppose you can just throw something at him and cross your fingers?

    If nothing else, this client could be a good learning experience for you. And you'll be able to ask better questions and set proper expectations when you first engage with the next one?


    Anyway, whatever you decide to do I wish you the best of success in dealing with this client.

    All the best,
    - Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Stephen Floyd
    Seems I need to clarify "messaging framework." It's basically a master playbook that informs the way emails, web copy, social posts, print ads and other outreach methods should be crafted. It's meant to be modified and updated by the client as required by the business' needs, so that's why I'm concerned about a client who has a plug-and-play expectation.

    Kay King and SARubin, you are correct. I should be more proactive in communicating with the client and depend on the manager for what he was hired to do. Indeed I am new at this, so I'm nervous about doing what I believe to be quality work only to have such efforts undermined by a client with very different expectations. It's better to clarify those expectations before delivering the final product.
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    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Originally Posted by Stephen Floyd View Post

      Seems I need to clarify "messaging framework." It's basically a master playbook that informs the way emails, web copy, social posts, print ads and other outreach methods should be crafted. It's meant to be modified and updated by the client as required by the business' needs, so that's why I'm concerned about a client who has a plug-and-play expectation.
      Just out of curiosity, Stephen, what kind of business does this client own?

      Only asking because if you can use some of the language from his world, it may help you bridge the communication gap and build some quick rapport.

      Building rapport by impressing him with your understanding of his world, even at this late stage, could help open him up to the idea of listening to you.

      If this is a corporate client you're dealing with, then you can tell him all about your "dynamically holistic integrated and systematic approach to cross media market outreach".

      On the other hand, if this business owner is just a normal human being, you might want to call it "keeping the message on brand across all mediums".

      There's a half dozen different ways you can reframe the same message and they basically mean the same thing. It just depends on who your presenting it to.

      I also see from your first post that you're not afraid to use metaphors? (you're selling a puppy... he's buying HVAC...)
      So maybe you can try to adjust your metaphors to fit his business?

      It may or may not help at this late stage of the project, but you might be surprised how open people become when they believe you understand them and their world.

      All the best,
      Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    I may be off base but seems to me 'categorizing the client' is only useful if YOU have developed approaches to use with the various quadrants. Does that make sense?

    The quadrant theory is often about how to hire the right people - and how to ask the questions to decide which 'quadrant' they fit into.

    Finding out what the client's expectations are is more important than fitting him into a 'marketing category'. If his expectations are over the top tell him so. In my experience the most demanding clients often end up being the best clients to work for - they know what they want.

    It's meant to be modified and updated by the client as required by the business' needs, so that's why I'm concerned about a client who has a plug-and-play expectation.
    Any potential for ongoing work of updating/modifying monthly or quarterly yourself...for a fee?
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  • Profile picture of the author Stephen Floyd
    Update: He liked it. I crafted a marketing strategy and full copy for four websites promoting different properties he owns in the hospitality industry and his only feedback was to clarify two benefits on one property. In taciturn businessman terms, that's a rousing success. So I guess I got worked up over nothing.

    Thanks for all your feedback.
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  • A quick point - (btw glad the client liked the copy).

    Clients often think, they may even insist - we should be writing for them all keyed to their personality.

    Some are prone to try and superimpose this on every aspect of their business including their customers - whether they like it or not.

    But we are not writing specifically for the client.

    We are writing for their esteemed audience - the good people who pay the client.


    Steve


    P.S. The all important "notes" explaining the copy ( Why this, Why that, Why the other... which avoid endless questions and unnecessary drama) can of course be tailored to their persona.
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