Customers, Freelance life

The marketing director, the air stewardess and the copywriter: a cautionary tale.

police security tapesHere is the next installment in my thrilling series: How my repeated cock-ups nearly cost me my clients, my reputation and my business.

She was the blonde-tressed European marketing director of our most important client. Behind the velvet headband was a marketing mind sharper than a sharp thing.

I was the jet-lagged, hungover copywriter sitting in her office after catching the red-eye back to London and allowing the flirty stewardess to refill my glass one too many times.

We were looking at some proofs for a brochure.

“I’d like you to move the headline up into the white space. Then there’s more room for copy.”

Now, this was en eminently sensible suggestion. And what could be wrong with space for more copy?

But I was tired, irritable and somewhat full of my own importance as a design expert (which I was, and am, not). Here’s what I said.

“No. That’s not what it’s for. We should leave it like that.”

There descended over the table what I can only describe as a froideur.

Her ice-blue peepers narrowed. She turned to me, locked gazes, and, very quietly, repeated:

“I’d like you to move the headline up into the white space. Then there’s more room for copy.”

As I casually brushed the beads of sweat from my waxy brow, I assented, before beating a cowed retreat from her office.

And what is the moral of this story?

Do not argue with clients. And especially, do not tell them “no”.

Cajole, wheedle, explain, plead if you must: but argue? Never.

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