I’ve come up with a lot of content and link bait ideas for clients in the past few years. Most of the time they’re excited about the ideas, but every once in a while I’ll run into a client who is nervous or doubtful about the content I’m proposing. Most of the time they’re unsure of how appropriate the tone of the piece is, and it can often be difficult to let go of an idea that you know will do well virally. Other times they’re worried that their CMS can’t handle something as substantive as an infographic or other complex piece of content. Below I’ve outlined some suggestions on how to get your client on board with your content suggestions. Trust me, it’s much better to have your client on your side when it comes to content — if you can’t convince your client that a piece will do well, you’ll almost certainly run into roadblocks and failure down the road.
- Talk to your client beforehand to get a grasp of what he/she’s comfortable with. Right off the bat you should be able to eliminate a ton of ideas that aren’t appropriate based on what your client wants to do and what the brand’s all about. If your client sells kid-friendly DVDs, you probably won’t suggest “The 50 Most Epic Nip Slips of All Time.” Get a good idea of your client’s comfort level before wasting his or her time with a batch of good ideas that won’t work for a more conservative brand.
- Ask your client for some sample ideas. Getting a few ideas from your client is a good branching off point. You may not use the ideas, but it’ll give you a good idea of how your client is thinking and what he or she would like to see in the viral sense. Tweak these ideas and improve upon them, or use them as a launching point for a new batch of ideas that are in the same neighborhood of what your client was thinking could work.
- Provide example linkbait that’s done well. If you have a great idea and your client isn’t quite on board, find some successful linkbait that’s similar in tone or different but in the same industry. By providing examples for your client, you’re showing him that other brands have “taken the leap,” so to speak and that they’re still standing at the end of the day. Keep in mind that you may have to assure the client to expect at least a small amount of negative comments to come with any piece of linkbait since it is the Internet, after all. However, for the most part, a well crafted, well researched piece of content that isn’t controversial or intentional trollbait should be positively received.
- Deliver a draft that’s consistent with your initial concept and outline. If you promise an informative, scholarly list about Topic X and deliver a draft about Topic X that’s full of poop jokes and “That’s what she said!”s, your client probably won’t be thrilled. Keep your tone consistent with what your promised to your client. If you miss the mark, you’ll run into a huge cycle of rewrites and will have to work hard to erase the doubts piling up in your client’s head.
- Make sure to get final approval from your client. Have your contact approve every step of the process, and don’t publish or launch something without his or her thumbs up. The more time you spend getting input and running things by your client, the more time you get to get him excited about the idea and look forward to promoting it.
- When all else fails, head back to the drawing board. Ultimately, if you’ve done all you can to convince a client about a piece of linkbait or viral content and he’s still doubtful, I recommend not moving forward. I’ve worked with some clients who never seemed to be fully on board with a concept or idea, and every time that happens, the piece never does nearly as well than if they were excited and fully committed. The “If you believe it, you can achieve it” quote fully applies here — if your client doesn’t believe that something will work, it’s going to be hard to make it work. It’s better to move forward with something he is comfortable with, even if it’s not as stellar an idea.
I have worked with lots of clients who trust my content suggestions and let me go wild with ideas, but not every client is like that. A lot of them need some guidance and assurance in order to be comfortable with an idea. I hope the above process has helped a bit, and I’d love to hear some additional suggestions if you’ve got any to share!