I was writing an email campaign for a client to introduce their company and services to an audience that fit their target demographic. It was an interesting, challenging project.
My contact at the company loved the first drafts, but as always happens, they had to be run up the food chain for approval from her bosses.
This kicks off the adventure of being a freelance contributor: revising and rewriting content to the “feedback telephone game”. The suggestions and requests are filtered through one or two other people’s interpretation before they reach you. Or you hear conflicting input from several different sources, neither of whom is communicating with you directly – or with each other.
For example, here is some feedback I received on one email.
“It sounds a little too business-like. We want to adopt a warmer, friendlier tone. Could you start by empathising with the reader and sharing the story of who we are and how we have helped thousands of clients achieve their goals before getting to the pitch? Also, could you make it shorter? We’d like to tighten up text.”
So, use more casual, conversational language. Share a story. Add new information. But make it shorter. “Tighten it up.” No problem.
Actually, it was a problem. It was extremely difficult to make something shorter at the same time as adding a bunch of new stuff to it. But if it was easy, the client wouldn’t have outsourced it. That’s what we’re here for. To make the impossible look easy. To make a boring brand relatable and interesting. To deliver results.
The final draft of that email was better than the first.
Some feedback is not really actionable. Case in point:
“It doesn’t make me dream”
I’m not sure what that ….
“Make it dreamier.”
No problem. Dreamier. Check.
“You need to bring up the specs. The client needs to know specifically how our technology can streamline their data storage, enhance productivity, increase business performance, build customer communications, and reduce costs while maintaining a competitive edge. But don’t make it sound technical. It has to be sexy.”
I’m not sure you know what sexy means.
I’m pretty sure the end result wasn’t in fact sexy. I have to say that it did turn out to be a pretty good content piece, though. The struggle to combine conflicting elements, shorter + more detailed, technical specs + sexy, often produces some genuinely engaging results.
That’s the trick of it. The magic of content creation. Helping clients get what they need – when they may not even be sure what they want. It makes my life interesting.
Of course, the client is not always right. I’ve been in a board room outlining a social media strategy for a brand that was late to the table. We were going to be on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, FB and Insta. We were going to produce images, videos, articles, short and long form content, surveys and interactive pieces.
I was blindsided when an executive I had never worked with before suggested an addition. “What about this Tinder thing. I hear it’s all the rage. Shouldn’t we have a presence on Tinder?”
“I, um, I really don’t think that’s the platform for this particular campaign…” I know that some brands have leveraged dating sites and apps for marketing, but this client was in the enterprise software field. They never said a sentence that didn’t include the phrase ‘digital transformation.’
They didn’t belong on Tinder.