The 3 P’s of Writing Client Success

What’s on the iPod: Lonesome by Dr Dog

Disjointed day yesterday — it started with an appointment that lasted until lunch time. I came home, got busy on a large project, but I was lacking steam. I pushed through and managed a few thousand words, but not the kind of progress I’d hoped for. Today is a better day, I hope. I have another batch of projects that just came in, so the week will finish on a good note. Plus my poetry course on Coursera started, and I’m enjoying every minute. Only one Coursera course I took bored me to tears. This poetry course is the second time through for me. I love the professor’s style and the delivery method of the material is first rate.

The larger project I’m working on is interesting. It’s an educational project, and I get to learn as I write, which is always fun. Right now, I’m writing about a fairly common due diligence process — people, process, and performance. It’s also applicable in nearly every business situation in nearly every industry. So I’m going to apply it to us writers and how we ensure successful client project outcomes. We can do that more effectively by looking at each part of that process.

People: Namely, who are your clients and how are they motivated? Get to know what drives them to make the choices they make or send the messages they send. What keeps them up nights? What factors are behind the decisions they make? What is the primary motivation? Also, don’t forget the motivations of their customers and of their writer (you). Look for disparities — for example, is your motivation primarily money-based? If so, are your motivations clashing with those of your client? Also, are the clients understanding their customers’ motivation? If not, how can you improve that?

Process: How do you deliver to your client? What delivery method will work best? Also, what writing process are they interested in? Do they want to be more hands-on, or are they looking for someone to take charge and run with the project? What methods will you use to get your clients to their goals? What processes are being used now that aren’t working?

Performance: Almost as important as the people involved, you need to understand how your suggestions or their ideas will play in the real world. What’s been done before? How effective have previous attempts been? How will the suggested project be received by the intended audience? Is it a strong enough idea, or is it too strong and needing toning down?

It sounds like a ton of work, but evaluating clients under the three P’s is not hard once you start looking at each client and project through the same lens. For instance, you may know within five minutes that your potential client is all about looking like a big player on a small player budget. Or you may recognize that the messages they’re sending are inconsistent or off-point. Much of the process is listening, intuiting, and adjusting to match the cadence of your client.

Do you already evaluate projects in a similar way? What methods of client and project evaluation have worked for you?

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  • Anne Wayman September 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I recognize each of these although I've never formalized them that way. Interesting way to think about it all.

  • Lori September 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    There are so many interpretations of these concepts too, Anne. Fascinating to learn about it all.

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