Have you ever had a client say something like:
- “I want my book to be for everyone.”
- “All my friends say I should write a book.”
- “I want all (car dealers, plumbers, lawyers) to come to my site because of this article.”
So often clients have only the vaguest idea what they want from the writing they’re talking to us about. You know what I mean:
- If you write for everyone you write from no one – I’ve forgotten where I read this first, but it’s so true.
- The motivation for writing a book has to come from inside – it just won’t get done otherwise.
- No single article or blog post will do all of the marketing you want – a series is a start, but only a start.
In other words, clients don’t really know what they want
Part of your job and mine is to help clients understand what writing can do and help them dig deep enough to discover what they really want and need. We really can’t expect them to know unless they’ve had a lot of experience working with writers. Even then they may need some help.
The way to do this is to put the client needs before your own. If you’re thinking about how to be of service rather than how much you can earn you’ll be able to listen deeply and ask questions that will reveal the clients needs. And deep listening is what’s needed.
Jonathan Fields posted an article called Sales Fail: Moron Tours. Ostensibly it’s about why we hate getting canned gym tours, but as he talks about the way it should be done he exemplifies service based questioning. I particularly like the way he lists the types of questions that should be asked, than adds:
Ask, don’t talk. Listen. Reflect answers. See if there’s more. These are just primers, the deeper you go, the better.
Anyone wanting to work with clients can make use of this. When you reflect, you usually get a clarification. There’s almost always more and you won’t hear it if you’re doing the talking.
As you listen and come to understand the results your client wants from what you’ll be writing you’ll be able to provide the information that will lead them to having a better understanding of what they actually want. Once you both understand what’s really needed your job becomes much easier and client satisfaction almost always assured.
How do you help clients know what they really want?
Write well and often,
Image from http://www.sxc.hu