What to do when the goal posts move

We’ve all been there.Dealing with moving copywriting briefs

You’ve been approached by a customer to create some copy for them; you’ve taken a detailed brief and provided them with a written proposal and quote – the work starts and just when everything seems to be going well, the client moves the goal posts.

So what do you do?

Is it in writing?

Let’s go back a few steps.

You did provide a written quote, didn’t you?

Verbal quotes are all well and good but, if things change, you’ll have nothing to refer back to when tackling the client about the changing brief.

That’s why it’s best to create a written detailed proposal and quote based on the brief received from your client, whether it’s from an email, briefing document or a face to face meeting.

It should include details of:

  • The aim of the project in question (what your client wants to achieve)
  • Your fee for the project and what that will cover
  • The hourly rate that will be charged for further meetings or additional rounds of amendments over and above those included in your fee
  • The services you will provide your client based on the brief they have provided
  • How the work will be carried out
  • When the first and subsequent drafts will be available and how quickly you’ll turn round the amendments
  • How payment is to be received

That way, when they want to make changes to the brief (i.e. they now want 10 pages of web copy instead of 3) you can go back to the quote that they agreed to and negotiate the way ahead for the extra work.

If you have nothing in writing it’s going to be an uphill struggle.

A professional way of working

If you think that all of this is just going to generate more work for you and you don’t have time to put formal proposal and quotation documents together, have a think about this.

Can you really afford not to?

After all, how many times have you agreed to extend the work you originally agreed because you either:

  • Had no way of proving what you thought had been agreed
  • You and your client had different interpretations of what was agreed
  • Felt uncomfortable going back and asking for more budget

If you provide a professional, written document outlining all aspects of the project, what your fee includes and an outline of what they will be charged extra should they exceed the scope of the original brief, you can refer back to it if required.

Plus, as they would have agreed to it in order to accept your quote in the first place, they can’t quibble.

Over to you

How do you go about defining the projects you work on?

Have you experienced moving goal posts? If so, how did you deal with it?

Leave a comment below and let us all learn from your experiences.

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