Monday, February 27, 2012

When a Client Wants More Than Copywriting

Sometimes a client needs more than your words. Sometimes they need graphic design, keyword research, SEO, media placement, or one of a wide range of other services that often go hand-in-hand with copywriting. If you offer these services, great—work them into your existing project.

But what if you don’t offer the extra service the client wants? You have several options, each with its own pluses and drawbacks. Here’s an overview of your possible responses:

“No, I don’t offer that service.” Sometimes the easiest thing to do is just say no and move on. This is the best track, I think, if you genuinely don’t know anyone who provides the service well enough to recommend them. Recommendations reflect on you, too, and you don’t want to recommend just anyone.

That said, by brushing off the client’s question, you do miss an opportunity—not just to make things easier for your client, but also to make a friend and even yourself some extra money.

“Sure, my company can handle that!” You also have the option of handling it all “in-house.” Don’t have an in-house graphic design department or SEO? No problem…bring one in! It works like this: you negotiate separately—and sign a contract separately—with the service provider you bring in. Then you offer your client a marked-up price, and the contract they sign with you covers the service provider as well.

The bit about the mark-up sounds good—but it’s not free money. You’ll have to earn it by doing some project management. You may act as a liaison between the client and the service provider, and you may be held responsible if the service provider doesn’t deliver on time. This type of arrangement usually comes with added responsibility as well as added revenue, which is why many feel it’s fair to charge a mark-up.

“I don’t offer that myself, but I can recommend someone who can…” This is an in-between option. Instead of brushing off the client’s request, recommend a service provider you know—or give the client a list to choose from, if you know several.

Under this arrangement, the client contracts directly with the service provider—you won’t be asked to manage the project. You won’t get any revenue, either—unless you and the service provider have a separate referral-fee agreement. This arrangement is usually easy to manage for you—no added extra work. It helps a fellow provider who may be inspired to return the favor someday. And it makes things easier for the client, who would likely rather use someone you recommend than find someone on their own.

How do you handle client requests for added services?


Lori said...

Great options.

It depends on the project as to how I approach it. If they're looking for design, I'm pretty much spent because I really don't know any designers beyond a really small circle. If they want ghostwriting, I have any number of options to offer.

I've started a referral network and as we start giving referrals, we get to keep a small percentage of the profit in exchange for the referral. It's a great system for everyone, but only if you trust the people in your network to deliver. And I do. :)

Jennifer Williamson said...

I love that idea, Lori! So far I have an informal network of people in a lot of different areas to refer work to--including writing, graphic design, SEO, and social media marketing. If I had a mind to, I could build this into a value-added service thing, but I just haven't done it...and I've been a bit nervous about bundling everything under my own company name and then having to do any project management. I like to keep things simple.