A long time ago, in a place far away, I was a young web copywriter at a design and copywriting agency. We were consulting with a large public corporation, one you might call an arm’s-length government business.
This very large corporation had many customer groups, which broadly broke down into: ‘households,’ ‘businesses’ and ‘international partners.’
The VP of Marketing at this corporation sent word to the marketing department that they needed to put a ‘customer toolkit’ on the homepage of the website and it needed to be done right away.
What happens when Executives play copywriter
Do you see the problem yet? No, it wasn’t that the copywriting agency wasn’t consulted (although that may have prevent what happened).
I’ll help you out.
Every audience group thought of itself as a ‘customer’ of the big corporation. Households, businesses of all sizes, and partners – they all perceived themselves to be customers.
And the toolkit label wasn’t just confusing, it became a business issue – a complex and costly problem blamed on marketing:
- Customers who happened to think of themselves as customers, but weren’t the ‘right’ sort of customers tried and failed to sign up for the toolkit – for instance, businesses that were too large to be considered ‘customers’ by the corporation’s internal jargon.
- Regular people – household customers – began phoning into the call centres to get help accessing the promised ‘customer toolkit.’
- Call centre staff struggled to make sense of the new offer too. They hadn’t been told it was only for business customers.
People got frustrated. Customers (all types) got angry. Complaints were made. Marketing was told something was wrong with the toolkit.
They spent money on technology upgrades and process diagrams.
The VP of Marketing told his board that they were working quickly to solve the ‘glitch.’
No one thought to change the copywriting because the internal language of the corporation dominated their thinking. A customer, to them, was ONLY a small to medium-sized business. Everyone else had different labels: residential, commercial, enterprise.
The complex made simple
Had our web copywriters been asked from the beginning, we would have helped the corporation understand that although it had a specific meaning within the corporation, ‘customer’ is ambiguous and personal to those on the outside.
A copywriter, like other creative professionals, puts the end-user (or customer) at the foundation of our work.
What did we do?
We solved the big marketing fiasco with a simple act of copywriting.
And we further qualified this with the size of business
“To help small and medium sized businesses manage their services and save money”
Sometimes, an outside copywriter’s perspective is all that’s needed to save a bundle.