We Speak Collaboration
Spoiler Alert: I’ve been working on a commercial that talks all about the language of collaboration and how that plays into what we do at In The Cloud Copy. Or at least what we try to do.
We could be better at it. We learned that a week or so ago when one of our favorite clients suddenly wanted to reevaluate our relationship. l had thought things were going well, so it was a mighty big shock to the system. But I reached out (like ya do), offered a swag pack filled to overflowing with coupons for discount oil changes, and asked what I could do to help her out.
A Lack of Clear Communication
As it turns out, the copywriting company that claims to speak collaboration failed to adequately communicate expectations. Woah, so my bad!
When it comes to collaboration, it’s not simply a buzzword to us. What we mean, really, is that we don’t want to just write words for you; we want to write the words that you would write if you were the copywriter.
We want to be your content partners, not just your content producers.
So, if we don’t nail it the first time, we will absolutely try again. Your feedback helps us all create better content for you, your audience and your customers.
Some Tips for Major Collaborative Success
Obviously, a large portion of the crossed wires was on us. Me, really. I should have told her what I’m about to tell you. There’s plenty of ambiguity in this world, and communication specialists should somehow not add to the problem. We learned… I hope.
Now, tips for you, whether you work with us or another, clearly less cool, firm:
We want to hear your ideas. I’ve found that there are three kinds of clients in this world. The first kind just wants results and will leave you to do the heavy lifting, the second wants to be deeply involved with content planning, and the third, well, the third wants to throw some ideas at the wall, but they’re afraid that’s somehow not allowed.
Hey, Number Three! We’re here to be part of your team. As long as you’re footing the bill, you’re calling the shots. We may advise against something because we’ve seen it fail utterly too many times, but ultimately, we will defer to you and do our best to make sure your content sizzles.
Bring us your style guide! We have a house style guide that we use when we’re not told any different, but I am starting to think that I need to specifically ask clients about style guides. See, not only are there lots of variations on the English language (Australian, British, American, Canadian, Nigerian, Jamaican, just to name a few), there are different rule books that work within that framework.
If you asked me what style guide we default to, I’d tell you it’s the Associated Press Stylebook and we do it with American English. We can and do use other stylebooks, but we may have seriously crossed wires if you’re expecting that we will use your preferred stylebook when we had no idea you had a preference. Again, I need to be asking this question directly; this is in no way a client failure.
Let’s talk about your audience. It’s really important that we know who it is we’re writing to, for many reasons. The most important one, though, is so we use relevant examples and relatable language. We value engagement highly, so if you need to reach bookish 25- to 60-year-old Australian women, we will find a writer who is really good with Australian English and is up with the slang that demographic uses (we actually have one hanging around here somewhere).
Contractions and local expressions usually increase engagement, since it makes the content feel more like you’re talking to a friend. Technical material, of course, requires a different sort of touch, as do other efforts like political campaigns.
Need to video conference? No problem. We’re all about convenience. Video conferences are great because we can both have a copy of the recording to keep in case of a disagreement later. But if you’re not into that sort of thing, we’ll happily call you directly using an actual phone, open a chat window, or grab the nearest pigeon. Flexibility, I’ve found, makes anything possible in a collaboration.
We can measure success. Oh yes. We can quantify success, and we will be checking in periodically to see what kind of content is resonating with your audience. An incredibly generous client has recently sent me to work through the Digital Marketer certification courses. I’ve already completed the data analytics unit, so now I can prove that I know how to use that stuff. It’s too bad all the time I spent learning how to use it years ago can’t be certified. Haha.
Want changes? Let us know! As much as I’d love to pretend that we always hit the mark on content, that would be a terrible, horrible lie. There are times when your description of your content needs doesn’t quite translate, so we don’t create exactly what you want. Sometimes it happens. We just have to sit down with an example and go over it so we get on the same page. Your content is your content, after all.
To look at it another way, if you came to my store and ordered a tub of bacon (yes, that’s a proper way to measure bacon) and I came back with Canadian bacon (just bacon for the Canadians in the back), you’d be like, “ummm… no, I need the greasy kind…” If I came back from the mysterious meat storage place with, say, flank steak, you’d be even more confused and frustrated.
But if you went to the glass case and pointed to the item you were talking about, a light would go on in my dim little brain and I would then know to ask you if you wanted the one-kilo tub or the 2.2-pound tub. (We speak metric, too.)
Need other special treatment? There’s a line here, but we’re providing custom content, so that means if you have special requirements like inclusion of keywords or metadata or images, we can work it out. We want your copy to be right. Not almost right, not sorta right, but right right.
When in Danger… OH! LOOK! Another CTA!
When I was a teenager, I spent an unholy amount of time memorizing poetry. Mostly the rhyming kind, but I wasn’t too picky. Anyway, one of the poems I came across was short and sweet. It went like this: “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!”
While I’d prefer that you keep the screaming and shouting to a minimum, if you’re in danger or in doubt, let me know. If you have a question about anything, ask me. If you feel like you’re carrying too much weight, let me carry some of it. We’re more than just pretty words, you know, we’re part of the shadowy world of business services, where we make you look superhuman on the regular.
Speaking of carrying a lot of weight around, right now we’re offering free site content audits to help you debloat your website, catalog your blogs and ensure that future content isn’t just an endless cycle of the same old, same old. All you have to do to get started with one of those is to poke the offer up at the top of the page, hit me up on LinkedIn or email me directly by clicking here.