I’m just going to run down the stairs real quick and put this laundry away. I thought to myself.
It was late evening, and the sun had long since set. It was dark in the basement, but instead of turning on the stairway light like a sane person would do, I decided to grab the laundry basket and walk down the stairs in the dark. Why turn the light on when I’d just have to turn it off again, right?
Famous last words.
Our basement stairs aren’t enclosed. The left side butts up against the wall, but the right side is open to the living room. As I neared the bottom few steps, already thinking about what I was going to do after I put my laundry away, a big hand reached out and grabbed my ankle.
Cue freakout. I swear I lost years off my life. I shrieked loudly, and it’s a miracle I didn’t throw the whole laundry basket up in the air, scattering clothes in every direction.
My husband had been crouched down to the side of the stairs, waiting in the dark for me to get close enough to scare. He immediately burst out laughing while dodging my attempts to fake slap him into tomorrow.
It’s true. I admit it. I am the best victim ever if you want to get a good jump scare out of somebody. All you have to do is catch me when I’m not paying attention to my surroundings, which, since my brain is always ruminating on words of some kind, is often.
Jump scares aren’t the only things that make my blood run cold, however.
As a sales copywriter, there are five statements that create an instant sense of foreboding and dread in me. This article reveals what the five super scary sentences are and gives you some effective strategies on how to deal with them without giving in to fear.
Scary Statement 1: “I need it by the end of the day.”
The conversation with a client or prospect is going great. You’re excited about their project and can’t wait to get started. Then they drop the bomb.
“We’re scheduled to start running ads tomorrow, so we’re going to need it ASAP.”
Instantly, your brain starts furiously trying to figure out how you can make it happen. Maybe if you move that project to tomorrow and put off writing your own content (again) …
It’s easy to fall into the trap of allowing your desire to please a client override what you know is reasonably possible. Believe me, I’ve totally been guilty of dropping everything and rerouting my whole day’s workflow just to make it happen. It always exponentially adds to the stress of my day, and that is a dead indicator that it’s not always worth it.
When I catch myself being tempted to fall into unreasonable client-pleasing responses, I ask myself one question: Who is the boss of my business?
Oooooh, yeah that puts things right back into perspective, doesn’t it? Am I running my business, or am I allowing my desire to please my clients run it for me?
I serve at a high level and will bend over backwards for a client - but it’s not fair for me to do it at the expense of my other clients, time with my family or my own health. To help myself avoid doing this, I have put a couple things in place as hard and fast rules in my business.
First, I have set minimum turnaround times for my main services. Having a go-to answer at the ready when clients ask what’s possible in terms of turnaround is a lifesaver. If it’s the rules of your business, it’s the rules of your business.
Second, I have a separate rate sheet for rush requests. Are there times I can accommodate a last-minute request? Yes, but I don’t want it to happen all the time. I also want to set the standard that just as I respect and honor my clients’ time, I’d like them to do the same for me.
Having different rates for rush projects allows me to present a shorter timeline as an option while still respecting my time and my other clients’ projects. I can choose to pull it out if my workflow has the space to accommodate a rush request, and the client then has the choice to pay the rush rate or adjust their timeline.
If I’m okay with either option they choose, then it’s a win-win. And I do love a good client/service provider win-win!
Scary Statement 2: “I think everyone is going to want to buy my offer.”
Ever heard that one before? Most sales copywriters have, and it’s one of the scariest things to hear coming from a client’s mouth. Why?
Because it’s 100% not true. Unless you sell toilet paper, your target audience is NOT, nor will it ever be, “everyone”. Clients who think everyone wants their offer aren’t as ready to make their offer public as they think they are.
Knowing exactly who the target audience is, what they want, and how the offer helps solve a problem is the most important first step to successful campaigns. Most of the research phase time I allocate for each project is spent going all super-spy on the target audience.
Not knowing enough about the target audience eventually turns campaigns into nightmares. Campaigns won’t perform as well when there’s no clear target … and the sales copywriter tends to end up on the wrong side of the blame when things aren’t converting.
So how do you navigate this scary situation?
I walk the client through a framework that takes them through a deep dive on their ideal clients and customers. This framework helps the client look past their offer to the people behind it. I offer this as a separate service because it’s very time-intensive, but it’s worth it because they end up with campaigns that speak directly to their ideal buyers instead of the general public.
If a client doesn’t want (or have the budget) to go through this framework, then I set some very clear, reasonable expectations for what I can do and how their campaigns may perform before I ever write a word.
Scary Statement 3: “If you take this lower price now, I’ll have a lot more work for you down the road.”
I understand operating within budgets, I really do. I use hard and fast budgets with my own marketing campaigns too. It’s not fair, however, to expect someone else to completely change their pricing structure based on the promise of something that may never materialize in the future.
There’s also another problem lurking beneath the surface. Once you agree to a lower rate with a client, it’s very hard to get them back up to your regular rates. If you’re going to engage in price negotiations, be sure you’d be happy with that rate long term.
My best advice here is to proceed with caution ONLY IF this is a client you really want to work with. Sometimes an arrangement like this can be worth it in exchange for experience writing in a niche you’d like to break into or a testimonial.
Never make the decision to work with someone based on the “promise” of future work. If it doesn’t work out, you may resent the time that could have been spent on a client who believes in your worth and pays your rates happily.
Scary Statement 4: “Hey, somebody just stole your copy!”
As unethical as it may be, there are people out there who have no hesitation about copying and pasting someone else’s copy and using it for themselves. Unfortunately, good sales copywriters experience this far too often.
I once wrote a piece of copy for a large influencer’s Facebook ads. The ads converted really well. So well, in fact, that a year later I did a double take when I saw the exact copy, word-for-word, attached to someone else’s ads.
I sent a message to the not-my-client-using-my-client’s-copy. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they’d hired someone to help with their ads or copy and were unaware their service provider was stealing copy from others.
I never got a response, but I stopped seeing the ads and assumed it was taken care of. A few months went by, and they popped up again. This time, I contacted the client, and they took it from there.
It’s not okay to copy and paste other people’s copy. If this happens to you, my best advice is to go directly to the source of the copy with an open mind and ask them about it. Give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.
At the end of the day, as creepy as it is to have someone else copying your stuff, it’s kind of a back-handed compliment.
Scary Statement 5: “The copy isn’t working.”
This one is the ultimate horrorfest. You pour your heart and soul into your client’s project, and when the data starts pouring in, it doesn’t convert.
Before you panic and accept all the blame, there could be other factors affecting the campaign’s results. Don’t make massive changes to the copy until you’ve answered the following questions:
The most important thing to remember is the data doesn’t lie. As the ads strategist for the landing page conversion rate and the ad click through rate. These two stats tell you a lot about where a breakdown might be occurring.
The truth is, there are many factors sales copywriters don’t have control over within a campaign. The copy is just one (although a very important one) piece of the pie. It’s important to think about how you’d respond in these situations BEFORE they actually occur. Having a plan to deal with these scary statements ahead of time means you can calmly handle whatever comes.
More from Christa Nichols
I’ve been working on something that’s going to be transformational for sales copywriters for over a year now, and the VIP launch is coming this November. Click here to get on the waitlist to find out more.
Hi, I'm Christa, an Iowa-based messaging expert specializing in targeted messaging, copywriting, and ghostwriting services. I have one handsome hubby who's my partner in crime (not literally) and two great kids who keep us busy (Track and field! Volleyball! Basketball! All the sports!) Using words to help people promote what they love is my favorite!