Selling On Promises: Why Transparency Matters To Us…

Life’s like a box of chocolates- you never know what you’re gonna get

– Forrest Gump

Am I that transparent? I want you, I need you- oh baby, oh baby

– 10 Things I Hate About You

Have you ever bought a discount flight and then paid more on top for all the unseen extras? Or been in the U.S, seen an item listed for a great price and then been stung when the local sales tax was stacked on top of that seductive sticker price?

Or maybe you’ve met somebody and while their words told you one thing, you could tell they weren’t being up-front with you. Just little giveaways (or ‘tells’) that revealed all. Recently I read a book, titled What Everybody Is Saying (Joe Navarro) and it delves into the minor details of how to read a person beyond the mere words they’re speaking to you.

Because you might ‘know’ a person doesn’t line up with how they’re trying to present themselves or that a particular offer sounds too good to be true, but when you think about it, what’s the real frustration?

The real frustration is that we’ve already got enough things to think about. Enough issues that require our ongoing attention and energy. Having to decipher what somebody’s real intentions are or what you’re really getting when you sign up means you have to devote more of your time (and energy) to being on-guard and minimising the chances of being stung.

If you ask me, life is too short! Call it simplistic, but whenever I pay for a service or a product, I want to know exactly what I’m getting- and it seems like I’m not the only one. Places like Dominos now allow you to see your pizza being prepared in the store before it’s delivered- so you know exactly what you’re going to see when you open that piping hot carton.

After all, when you know what you’re getting straight up then it’s easier to make a decision- yay or nay? At least if a service is expensive, we know it’s expensive from the start. If a process is complicated and time-consuming, then you sign up understanding it’s not a simple case of click your fingers and get the result.

I still remember the day I walked in and signed up for the Fight Like A Pro experience back in 2016 and Gavin talked about how over the coming 10 weeks there’d be times I’d feel like quitting, but that (ultimately) if I got to Fight Night it’d be one of the best things I’d ever done and I’d want to go back and do it again- like plenty of other guys who returned to train here at the gym…

Without giving too much away (because you should read the article for yourself), I was in the midst of a difficult year and I’m generally a persistent person. I figured wanting to give up was for men weaker in spirit than myself. I also assumed Gavin talking up Fight Night as being “one of the best things I’d ever done” was just his pitch.

Yet ultimately- he was correct on both counts. Not only did I return to the gym to train again, I stepped into the ring once more at the next Fight Night. It turned out that I got what I signed up for (and then some) even if I didn’t know it yet…

As human beings we’re attracted to certainty because it’s part of our survival mechanism. We want to know that water is wet, sand is gritty, sugar is sweet and that if we stand in the middle of the road then our day isn’t going to end well. Small elements of certainty like this make it easier (mentally and emotionally) to focus on longer-term decisions that are important to our survival.

If we do get the unexpected, we want it to be something good. Like the afternoon when, just a couple of weeks short of my 10th birthday and (intending to hit the street in the new billy-cart I’d built with my dad) I walked out into the living room to see both my parents sitting there with the Scalextric slot-car set I’d been wanting for ages. It was an early birthday present (truth is, my dad was keen to have a crack at it himself) and to date it remains arguably the best birthday present I ever received…

But back to what we expect as a customer-

Ideally, we want to know exactly what we’re getting and how much we’re going to pay for it, right? If it’s a product then we want to know the materials, the quality, the finish, the size, the weight, the features and the price. If it’s a service then we want to know what’s going to be done, how long it’s going to take, the results and (yet again) the price.

So when I was brainstorming what kind of guarantees to offer clients, making transparency one of those guarantees didn’t need a second thought. What it means is that before you pay the invoice (let alone receive the invoice) we’ve discussed the proposal with you. You know what service you’re getting, the timeframe it’s due to be completed in and how much it’s going to cost in total-

So if you’re thinking about getting sales or marketing copy written and you want the peace of mind that comes with certainty and knowing what to expect, then contact us

The Birthday Party That Fell Flat: Why Efficiency Matters…

Let me take you back to the occasion of my mothers’ 40th birthday party

Now obviously, your 40th birthday is a big occasion and (while I haven’t experienced it yet) it’s considered a milestone like any year where you turn another decade older. So for Mum’s 40th she’d organised a medieval themed birthday party, complete with a spit-roast in the backyard, horseback rides and (best of all): a jumping castle

It was that last one I looked forward to the most. Having a fairground attraction in your own backyard for a day seems like the most awesome thing ever when you’re 9 years old, the only thing better would be discovering they were taking apart The Demon from Wonderland and coming to set it up at your place (but then again maybe not, as I was scared of rollercoasters as a kid and I regret the rides I missed out on, but that’s another story)…

So the weeks counted down and then at last, here it was: the day of Mum’s 40th birthday party…

The caterers arrived and set up the spit roast, the horse float showed up and a white horse clopped through our side gate and into the backyard, family and friends came around to our place dressed like the cast from a Robin Hood movie- while I eagerly waited for the jumping castle, which would arrive at any moment, surely…

I waited…

And waited…

The afternoon drew on and still no sign of any jumping castle. By this stage even my parents were getting impatient, calling the hire company up for a please explain? According to the hire company, their guy was on the road and meant to be turning up with the jumping castle soon.

Half an hour ticked by. Then another half hour. The birthday cake was brought out, Mum blew out the candles and speeches were made. Yet still no sign of the jumping castle. Eventually Mum called the company back and passed on a message, simply saying “Boy very upset”

As I heard her say this I cringed at her exaggerating for dramatic effect. I wasn’t balling my eyes out. I wasn’t sitting in a corner and sulking. There was cake to eat, a horse to ride, cousins and the family friends’ kids to take for hot laps around the backyard in my old red Little Tykes wagon. But sure- I was as disappointed as any 9 year old kid would be when they get promised a jumping castle and then it never shows up…

To their credit, the hire company did the reasonable thing and (once it was clear today there’d be no bouncing) let us have the jumping castle for another day and refunded us. I could live with that.

So the alternate date was arranged, I invited my friends over and then come that day when I would- we all would- all get to jump around at last?

No sign of it. A call to the company again led to them calling the home of this guy who was meant to be delivering it. His wife apparently said he was at footy training and then meant to be dropping the jumping castle off. I don’t know what happened after footy training, but that jumping castle never showed up. Strike 2…

After this point, the company boss spoke to Mum on the phone and said they’d now give us the jumping castle for an entire week. It would be delivered by somebody else, as they sacked the bloke who’d let us down twice now.

Looking back now, it almost feels like the premise for a depressing Simpsons episode: bloke still manages to fail at a job that allows him to be somewhat loose with punctuality= gets the sack. I wonder what the rest of that guys’ backstory was? I probably wasn’t the only person he’d let down because in my experience, if somebody is letting you down on small things then they’re probably letting other people down on much bigger things as well…

But in the end, the jumping castle arrived- a giant inflatable giraffe, head popping up behind the roof of our house and wobbling around all week, visible from the end of our street. My friends, cousins and the neighbourhood kids all came around and yeah, it was cool being able to come home, go out to the backyard, turn the generator on and bounce around until you were exhausted!

Whether it’s waiting for a jumping castle to show up at your house, a flight to leave or a team member to submit their contribution for an important group assignment, being kept waiting is massively frustrating, isn’t it? Because somebody else’s incompetence or lack of care means you end up paying for it, whether you miss out on the fun, miss out on an important connection or miss an opportunity to achieve greatness.

And nobody wants to miss out like that, do they?

It’s for this reason that here at Scribe Copywriting, we’re committed to efficiency. So much so that it’s one of our 5 Guarantees to every project we take on. I’ve edited brochure content, written client emails and turned them over in the space of 24 hours to help clients meet important deadlines. There’s an added cost involved with tight deadlines like those, of course- but it pays to be punctual.

So whether you’re in party hire, property development or providing an outstanding service people pay you top dollar for- you’re assured that the copy you need is in your hands when you need it-

If punctuality is your prime objective, then contact us.

Story time: Communication problems and what it REALLY costs you…

It’s amazing to think just how popular ‘Fawlty Towers’ remains, considering they made just 13 episodes. Yet it was the characters and some of the lines that became part of comedy folklore:

“Dont mention the war- I did once, but I think I got away with it!”

“What are you looking at? Get on with your meals!”

“About your Waldorf salad- well I’m sorry but it appears that we’re all out of waldorfs.”

My favourite line was in one particular episode where Basil (on the verge of losing it) punches his open hand and says “Right- I think I’ll go and hit some guests!” For me it was the visual of Basil storming into the dining room then indiscriminately punching hotel patrons as they sat and ate that cracked me up.

Yet certain episodes were equally frustrating as they were funny, with one prime example being an episode titled ‘Communication Problems‘. In it, one of the hotel guests is a deaf woman named Miss Richards, and what made her so annoying wasn’t just that she kept forgetting to turn her hearing aid on. It was her manner as well- overly demanding, uptight, loud monotone voice, the stick up her arse type. You know the sort…

Poor communicators are so frustrating because they don’t just make life more difficult for themselves. Everybody they come into contact with risks having their time, energy and yes- money- wasted as result. Looking back, I can think of a few examples of this from my own life:

Story #1: The Bi-Polar Property Managers

It was my 1st year studying in Brisbane and I lived in a student accomodation place where (at the end of the university year) I’d cleared out my stuff and stored it in the flat, because I was moving down the hallway to the bigger (and now vacant) room when I came back for the new semester. Now as you know, part of moving out of your rental dwelling is that you’re expected to clean it before you vacate- which I did. I vacuumed the carpet, dusted and wiped down the windowsills and desktops, cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom and gave the mirrors a polish as well. With that out of the way, I vacated the flat, went home for the summer holidays and (the following February) I returned, moving into my new room. But in my 2nd year there, I noticed something…

Because while the complex I lived in had been designed as student flats (and titled as such), I began noticing that amongst the fellow residents I saw daily there were fewer students in their late teens or twenties and more people who’d be classed as mature age students- mature aged students with kids- if they were studying at all. Now while I can’t prove anything, I’ve got a suspicion that body corporate wanted to push the uni students out and turn it into a residence aimed at low-income families, figuring they’d be less trouble for the same rent…

If this is what they were doing, I’d have no problem with it. Just be up-front about it, and at least you’d know where you stood. But here’s what happened-

To keep it as short and sweet as I possibly can, let me break it down for you:

a) It came to the end of the year and one of the property managers (we’ll call her Nadine) told me that while I was gone over the summer, the flats may be rented out to other tenants and so there was no guarantee I’d be in the same flat when I returned.

b) I asked where I could store my possessions for the time being, and Nadine said to leave them in the storage space under the flat, accessible through a lockable side-door next to the carport. So away I went, hauling my gear out of my room, downstairs and into this storage space.

c) I was about half way through when Nadine saw me and said I couldn’t leave my stuff there. I tried pointing out this was what she’d told me to do just the day before, but now apparently that wasn’t ok for reasons I’ve forgotten since. Point was, she now said I’d need to move my gear up into the so-called conference room of the complex office building. I say so-called because they never held conferences in there and it didn’t look likely any time soon. It was essentially a vacant room, housing old furniture ready for the dump.

d) So I moved my belongings a second time, from the storage space up to the conference room. But finally, my room was empty- which I proceeded to clean top to bottom just as I’d always done when vacating. I packed the stuff I was taking home into my large grey suitcase, dropped my keys into the slot of the mailbox outside the front office and headed into town, ready to catch the train home early the following morning. At last, my holidays had started and I could relax. Or so I thought…

e) The following afternoon I was sitting back in my comfy seat on the passenger express when my phone buzzed. It was Nadine on the other end and she was irate about the fact my personal belongings now sat there in the conference room. I said that was where she’d told me to put them (sound familiar?) but now *apparently* this had never been discussed. On top of that? She also complained about the state I’d left my room in, claiming it was “unacceptable”. I pointed out that I’d cleaned my room just the same as I’d done the previous year before vacating and nobody had said a thing about it, to which Nadine claimed that hadn’t been left in an acceptable condition either (I have a theory about how this shake-down works but that’s for another time). She said I wouldn’t be allowed back to live there in the new year and, realising it was pointless trying to reason with an unreasonable person, I hung up.

Now, maybe she was right? Maybe I hadn’t left my room in a state deemed to be acceptable from a tenant? But even if that was the case, they had an entire year to say something about it, to say “Look, the condition you left your room in when you vacated wasn’t acceptable and you’ll need to do a better job next time if you want to continue living here”. I would’ve asked for clarification, got a checklist from them and ensured their expectations were met. But they never said a word. Being a lowly STUDENT, I suspect my name had already been marked down, long before that December evening when I vacated the premises…

So the following February (having found a new place just down the street in the interim) I returned to the old premises and began moving my stuff out of the conference room. One of the caretakers (we’ll call her Rosie) saw me as I worked away and said “Do you know how much trouble you’ve caused?” Arguing with a complete idiot is a waste of time, so I brushed her off, saying “I didn’t mean to cause trouble for anybody” and continued my relocation…

If just reading all that frustrated you, then imagine how it was for me! So much trouble, and it all could’ve been avoided with some simple, clear communication on the other sides’ behalf.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, customers aren’t exempt from the curse of bad communication, either.

Story #2: The Client Who Needed To Consult A Dictionary

Years ago I was writing website copy for a client, on behalf of a mutual contact. There was a section they wanted written that was (essentially) a straightforward FAQ section, nothing fancy. I asked the client directly what they were looking for (as you do). They sent me an email with a link to the FAQ section of a company website from the same industry, and he told me to “take this and replicate it”

Replicate: To make an exact copy of, or reproduce.

Check out the definition for yourself. So I replicated the FAQ’s from this other company website, pasted it into a new document for my clients’ web-page and then edited it (where I saw fit) to make it as straightforward and simple to understand as possible. Then I sent it off to the client…

A day or so later, I got an email from the contact who’d introduced me to this client. The client had emailed him, ranting and raving about how what I’d done was “plagiarism” and that my contact should demand a refund on his behalf, etc etc. I told my contact I’d be happy to chat with this guy on the phone and straighten things out, but that request was never followed up.

As far as I’m concerned, in business and in relationships, poor communicators are welcome to go elsewhere. I only have a finite amount of time and energy and I intend to invest both where it’s actually worth the trade-off.

I’m sure you’ve got your own horror stories about people who drove you up the wall and wasted your time/ energy/ money (or even the trifecta) through their poor communication skills- whether a colleague or a client, boss or body corporate. I get it-

That’s why here at Scribe, one of the 5 Guarantees we offer you is clear communication. This means nothing is left to guesswork. When we write a brand new piece of copy or edit existing content, we explain the thinking behind what we do- and ensure that before we start, we’re as clear as possible on what the client’s vision is, what they expect.

From start to finish, we keep you posted every step of the way regarding the progress of your project. Because good communication costs nothing.

So if you want effective copywriting that pulls in new leads, gets clicks, gets new customers AND comes with clear communication? Then contact us today!