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How to get your client’s team into a fight

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The 6 am interview woke me up.

I’m working with an Australian client and, with me being in the UK, the only time we can schedule interviews is the wee hours of the morning.

In business and in life a lot of times you just have to suck it up.

Anyway, today’s interview lasted almost an hour and a half and went great.

I had a nice chat with the CEO and we dove into their business, their market, their industry and audience.

And finally, we went into their brand voice.

If you’re a copywriter and are not asking clients about their voice, you’re missing out.

Because this is where you can see them getting really passionate.

Sure the product is cool and all, but when it comes to brand voice, it gets personal. So personal that you can risk escalating the whole thing into a fight!

Well, not really, but maybe in their minds they’re punching the guy in the next cubicle, who knows.

So what should you do?

No matter if you’re a copywriter or part of the marketing team, here’s a nice little game I love to play.

At the end of each interview, I show the interviewee a chart.

On the chart I plotted a couple of bubbles each one identifying a voice type (for more on this I highly recommend looking up the Codex Persona and Justin Blackman), on four quadrants across the horizontal and vertical axes. They don’t see or have any idea of what each axis means (this is important!).

Then I ask them to tell me where, among the bubbles, they think their voice fits based purely on the voice types they see.

What they don’t know is that each bubble is strategically associated with as specific combination of voice vocabulary (complexity of words) and cadence (short vs long sentences).

And I do this with every single team member I interview.

Sometimes the difference in opinions is astounding.

This speaks to a lack of alignment in how the team wants to be perceived.

So I act like the referee…

Finding common ground but also considering what the market needs to hear.

Next time you’re trying to settle the brand voice debate, try this little game.

Have a great weekend!

Quote and reflection of the day:

“It’s human nature. We have all been too quick to make up our minds and too slow to change them.”

  • Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Superforecasting

Growth requires flexibility and elasticity. Treat life as an experiment where your main goal is simply to learn and think more effectively with no attachment to the starting point.

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