Are You Giving Your Clients Squid Eyes?

(The Second Secret of an Awesomitised Freelance Life)

Bad-ass kung-fu copywriter Leif Kendall continues to reveal the secrets of an awesomitised freelance career.. Awesomitisation Part 2 explores the importance of understanding clients’ briefs.

Imagine a freelancing career of profound peace, untroubled by these nightmares:

  • Client disputes
  • Misunderstandings / time-wasting
  • Changing or evolving briefs
  • Excessive amendments
  • Disappointed clients
  • Sprawling projects

The Cure

One way to avoid the problems listed above is deceptively simple:

Read the brief.

Oh, and if you haven’t got anything as formal as a brief, ask the client to put an outline of their requirements in an email. If you agree further details in conversation, note them down in an email back to the client.

How Can a Brief Make Me Awesomitised?

It’s easy. Remember that the brief is kind of like the client’s order form. It’s their request. It sets out what they want. If you don’t give them what they want (and what is detailed in the brief) then you might encounter all kinds of hell. And quite right too. Imagine if you asked the hairy man at the fish counter for king prawns, and he gave you squid eyes – WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Immersed in Briefs

I’m sure you read the brief, but…

  • Do you always read it and understand every word of it?
  • Do you read it at the beginning, middle and end of a project?
  • Do you go over the brief with the client and make sure that your understanding of every word is the same as theirs?

Unless you can honestly answer ‘yes’ to all of those questions, you aren’t quite awesomitised. And if you can answer ‘yes’ to every question, you’re probably lying and liars can never achieve awesomitisation.

Don’t Just Read the Brief. Understand it.

I’ve heard this before:

Client: Why isn’t my website purple?
Freelancer: What?
Client: It says here, in the brief: Website must be in colour range 670-750 THz
Freelancer: Oh, I wondered what that meant!

It’s easy to ignore things that don’t make sense. But never, ever assume that something you don’t understand is insignificant. How can you assume that something is insignificant if you don’t know what it is? That’s a fatal error. It is often the things that make the least sense that are most important.

You Say Potato, I Say Tomato. Actually, I want a Brochure

However clear and simple a brief appears to be, talk it through with the client first. And when I say talk it through, I mean you should have a conversation in real life. Either in person or over the phone. Go on, give the client a call. It might surprise them!

The Brief Might Be Wrong

I’ve discovered scary things in briefs  – including things the client meant to delete. I could have easily wasted hours doing something that was no longer required.

My Brief is My Bible

Three Steps on the Long, Awesome Road to Awesomitisation:

  1. Read the brief at the start of the project. Understand it. Start working.
  2. Read the brief in the middle of the project. Are you following it? Clarify any areas of uncertainty with the client. The client might have forgotten to mention an important aspect that’s in the brief, but don’t take their silence to indicate that it’s no longer desired. That neglected element could end up being the thing that stops your invoice getting paid.
  3. Read the brief at the end. Does the finished piece of work relate to the brief? If not, have any divergences been cleared with the client?

By Leif Kendall – a freelance copywriter who is working hard to be Awesomitised.

Image by Ores2k

Have you got any horror-shows lurking in your briefs?


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