A couple months ago I was brought on board for a cosmetic company that was just starting out. I had worked with a cosmetic company before with much success, so I didn’t foresee any problems with the project. The only difference between the two projects was that the new one had no copy written at all. So I began writing copy for some of the category pages with little to go on, except for the two sentence descriptions that were on the individual product pages.
At first the project seemed to go good as I turned in pages and they made revisions to them. There were a lot of revisions at first but that was to be expected. I wasn’t just developing optimized content, I was also helping to shape their brand. And this is where the problem occurred. What I was writing wasn’t what they envisioned about their company.
Yesterday I had a phone call from my contact after not hearing from him in a couple of weeks. The lack of contact made me suspect what was to come when he asked for a teleconference. He was very nice about what he said but he finally came out and said that while he appreciated what I had written, it was what he or his staff envisioned. They had decided to go in a different direction.
I was secretly relieved with what he said. I had the sense from the beginning they weren’t sure how they wanted to project their products and with the number of revisions involved I knew it could take a lot of trial and error to get it.
If part of the problem was that the company hadn’t developed their brand yet, it was also that I wasn’t their target market. So I couldn’t envision myself using the product. In the past this has never been a problem because I had the content that was already written for a company and their testimonails to review. And I would conduct intense keyword research to find the phrase the targeted market would use. And in the best of situations I had analytics to review, as well.
This research has allowed me to successfully sell everything from jet aircraft to caskets to complex software programs I didn’t completely understand. The content I’ve developed has continued to bring in business long after my work was completed and which still ranks even though Google has changed its algorithm hundreds of times.
In this case the owner did the right thing in letting me go. My guess is that they’ll go through a couple more writers before they get what they’re looking for. Yet, many business owners take on SEO consultants or firm that aren’t a right fit for them or that provide them with subpar content. In the end they lose not just money, but also a lot of time.
One of the objectives with a company’s website is that it projects their brand. This image is then reinforced through the use of social media, white papers and blog entries. This owner realized that with his startup he wanted it to project a specific brand impression. He wasn’t sure yet what that brand was, but he knew he’s had to live with it for a long time considering the amount of investment he would be making in time and money.
The first step in hiring a firm is to make sure they’re legitimate. That they have actually provided relevant, engaging content that is also optimized for specific keywords.
The second is to make sure they understand your company. Not that they know it inside and out, especially if this is just the start of the conversation. But they most likely have reviewed your site already and they should be asking almost as many questions as you are doing the conversation. If they don’t understand your goals, how are they going to be able to project your brand to prospects and customers?
Finally don’t be afraid to sever ties as things progress if you’re not pleased with their work or worse, if they hardly have any contact with you. It should be a partnership, not some work done behind a curtain. With my clients I make sure to not only update them on my progress, but also to explain to them what I’m doing and why.
Now it was disappointing that I was taken off this project, but the time wasn’t wasted. They had my research to take to the next writer and there is a good chance I will work for them again. They had already expressed interest in having me do SEO on the copy they were to develop and to assist them in social media and pay per click. I just wasn’t the person to help them create their brand.