Fired by a copywriting client! Gasp!

A copywriting client fired me…

After a few weeks of working on a copywriting project for a client, I e-mailed him client to discuss the copy I’d written for his business.

Well… the reply I got wasn’t quite what I expected.

The phrases included “we’re terminating out agreement”, “impact of the message”, and “not acceptable to our corporate direction”.

On the bright side… it also included “appreciate your attempt and professionalism”.

Now of course, there are other parts of this story, but that that’s not my purpose here.

So… it made me feel…

Honestly, when I first read it, I was pissed at him. Then a little disappointed.

And then I started to second guess the quality of my work and expertise, thinking “Well… maybe I just didn’t do a good job, or set proper expectations.” But I know I did.

Oh no… I had been fired by a client… for the first time ever…

Like a divorce, I guess…

So what didn’t I do?

(It’s just as important as what I did do)

I didn’t shoot him back a quick e-mail telling him he was stupid for making the wrong decision…

Or that he was an ass for firing me…

Or spitting out some other sarcastic response…

No no no! I wanted to respond like the professional I am, plus I don’t like to burn bridges if it’s not necessary. Just no reason to.

Actually, this client is well-respected and a nice guy, with a great business. And his e-mail was very professional and courteous, so none of these statements are true.

What I did do

Instead, I sat on it overnight and thought about what he really said, and how I wanted to respond.

When I decide to take on a client, I become a “partner” to them, almost like a marriage. Getting successful results is a 2-way street, so I also expect my clients to collaborate with me, and respond to my questions in a reasonable timeframe.

He wanted me to write “all about him” using what I consider long useless fluffwords that sound important and cool, but don’t say or mean anything, or convey any benefits to the readers.

I realized it was more important for him to maintain a high image and look good, than to persuade his readers to become customers because of the many benefits they’d get.

And converting prospects to customers? That’s what I though he hired me to do, or so I thought.

Now what?

First of all, I replied to his email professionally, thanked him for the opportunity to work with him, said “sorry it didn’t work out”.

Then I mailed him all the materials and research I’d done for him and he asked for.

The light bulb went on in my head!

Even though his business was a good match for my services, and even though he had the money to pay my fees, his copy ideas and mine simply didn’t jive because all he wanted to talk about was how great the company is. (which I know from experience usually doesn’t work)

Basically, I realized he just wasn’t the ideal client for me, and I wasn’t the right marketing guy for him, and him deciding to part ways was the best thing for both of us. Maybe divorce ain’t so bad after all.

It’s all good, though

Glad it happened early on. Now I can get on with my other projects for clients who do appreciate the work and effort (and results) I get for them.

And have more time to find more clients just like them.

Get more of my ideal clients!

Do you know who the ideal client is for your business?

If you do, drop me a note – and we can figure out how to get more of them…

Creating your own DIY website?

Do you or anybody you know want to set up a DIY website, but aren’t sure about creating content or how to write better copy?

Pick up a copy of my book “How Your Local Small Business Can Get More Customers on the Internet” today! Paperback or PDF E-book.

Let me know your thoughts below…

If you want help with your marketing strategy, writing effective sales copy, have any comments, or have a marketing project you’d like help with, e-mail me or call me at 603-686-5140

If you need help with website design, writing SEO optimized web copy, email marketing, or other online marketing strategies, I can help!

To your marketing success!

Merrill Clark

Website and Marketing Copywriter

Join my discussion by leaving a comment below…

6 thoughts on “Fired by a copywriting client! Gasp!

  1. Carol Burgard

    What a great article Merrill. It’s funny how we always talk about wanting more business and how to go about getting more customers. We hardly ever talk about when to just walk away from someone. Not all customers are created equal and some just do not fit with who or what we are about. It’s hard to walk away sometimes even when you feel in your gut that it’s just not a good fit. So thanks again for your honesty!


  2. Merrill Post author

    Thanks for your comment, Carol.

    Yea… just like some marriages are mad in heaven…

    Others… not so much.

    Life’s too short to worry about the bad ones.

    And it’s certainly not an effective use of time or money to market to clients who won’t be profitable emotionally and monetarily, too.

  3. Roger C. Parker

    Dear Merrill:
    I was sorry to hear about the closing of one door, but commend you for sharing your story and viewing it as an opportunity to open other doors.

    Let this be both a cautionary tale for others to be aware of their own intuitions when dealing with clients, as well as inspiration for others to develop a healthy, optimistic perspective when things don’t work out.

  4. Merrill Post author

    Hey Roger,

    Don’t be sorry… I’m not.

    The fact is – 2 new copywriting projects came in the door the very same day.

    Both will be much more profitable, more enjoyable, and the clients will even take my advice.

    Gotta move on! -:)

  5. Andrew Kelly

    The ideal client for your business is the one who requires exactly what you are providing. The ideal client is one who also has past experience of working with other copywriters. As you said, his and your ideas were not matching, he wanted you to write only about how great the company was and you knew it does not work. Clearly, this client was not very experienced and he did not know what is included in a good copy.

  6. Merrill Post author

    Thanks for your spot-on comment Andrew…

    Ironically, and out of the blue with no action on my part, one of his direct competitors has hired me to write copy for him.

    And he actually understands why I’m going to write about the benefits to his market.

    What a concept!

    Have a good one,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *