As a client, it can be hard to express precisely what you want—largely because doing so requires you to know precisely what you want. Determining what you want typically entails lots of conversations and thinking on your end with many different groups of people. We’re not judging—this is truly difficult. It’s natural to feel like dragging your feet a bit. Especially when, for you, this is likely just one small project of the many, many projects you’re handling.
But ultimately, more precise, consistent, and open communication between client and content marketer—from the very start of a project—leaves everyone far better off. This communication is important because, hard as we may try, we can’t read your mind.
You’d probably love to hand a project off to designers and writers and move right on to other things. In a busy world, the last thing you may want to do is spend hours agonizing over how a new blog post or infographic fits into your company’s content marketing strategy. That’s what the professionals are for, right?
Yes, we writers and designers are definitely going to put a lot of thought and effort into whatever project we are working on. We don’t expect to be handed all the answers. One of our talents is understanding a topic or industry and filling in the gaps to craft a compelling narrative. We are expert storytellers and as such clients trust us.
But we can’t make all this up on our own. I mean, we could, but the end product would be from our outside-in perspective. The main goal of content marketing is to set your firm apart from its competition. As a subject matter expert, you need to get across what’s distinctive about what you do, and you have the best information on what makes you stand apart. That critical information and insight must come from you—even if at first you don’t have a clear sense of the direction in which an article, infographic, or blog post should go.
If left on our own to construct a draft, when we put it in front of you, you’ll inevitably realize you actually have a lot of opinions. The article should really be framed around a point that is now only mentioned in passing, the colors should really be in A and B because of a new branding effort, the piece should really be directed at a different audience, and so on.
Granted, some changes are easy to make—and to some degree, they’re expected. Even if we actually do know exactly what you want the final product to be, there are still bound to be iterations and revisions with minor touch ups and tweaks. A failure to engage and communicate early in the process, however, often causes us to completely dismantle and rework projects, which of course takes more time. And, as they say, time is money. We all want you to get the most out of your investment, and solid and consistent communication helps ensure that.
But here’s some relief: good communication is a two-way street. While you need to know what you want, we need to ask. We do this work a lot, so we’ve become pretty good at asking the right questions to get the project where it needs to be and to establish clear goals ahead of time. But sometimes there are bumps in the road—new data, a different team that wants to be part of the conversation, a new leader with different ideas—there are limitless possibilities for how the project could go awry.
So, the more you, the client, can share with us about a project’s goal, audience, and tone, and the more background information or documents you can provide, and the more updates you share as the project goes on, the better. Your words don’t need to be perfect (that’s what we do) and you don’t need to worry about overwhelming us with information. In this instance, more is always more.
In addition, we always do a little of our own digging and research. You can expect that on our own we’ll develop a good sense of where a project fits in with the larger conversation and your brand and voice. But it’s still much better to also get the information from the source—you.
Really good communication between the client and the creative team is the stuff of content marketing dreams. It’s what produces terrific projects that fall within scope, hit deadlines, and make everyone happy. So tell us what you want—what you really, really want, and keep the communication going. We’ll be sure to ask the important questions and connect the dots to get us the rest of the way.
+1 Spice Girls reference