How to Use Challenges to Your Advantage
By Jewel Pickert
Your neighbor's lawn always looks greener than yours, unless you've been outside working on it. The same can be said for challenges. Everyone has challenges they face, but frequently, we only concentrate on or know about our own.
Perhaps a client isn't working out the way you had hoped.
Maybe a project starts to baffle you.
Or, something comes up in your life that makes it difficult to meet a deadline.
Perhaps an industry has been severely disrupted.
You could become angry or frustrated. Or, you could exercise that stress away while you cogitate on the "problem" as a new-found opportunity.
Maybe more follow up is needed. Maybe you need to create a new system. Maybe your expert status will be elevated or cast in stone once you resolve the issue.
As you can see in the following challenges, there is always an underlying opportunity just waiting for you.
Challenge #1: Decision makers may disagree or not get back to you by the deadline.
Opportunity: Become a leader. Actively facilitate the process and communicate consequences of any inaction. You may not always have the leverage you’d like, but you can certainly communicate how delays would impact the overall B2B project you're working on.
When you approach it in this manner, disagreement becomes a process for finding the best path. In this case, you might be more flexible with the deadlines.
With experience, you’ll be able to determine more easily whether a decision maker procrastinates or really does need additional information to make a decision.
Better yet: To avoid this dilemma, it's best to anticipate that all things will not work out as planned. Before you even begin the project, provide a checklist or cheat sheet of how the process will work. Indicate if more of your efforts are required to finish the project than what was agreed upon, additional consulting fees may apply.
Challenge #2: A web designer balks at making substantial changes.
Opportunity: Heap lots of appreciation on her for work already completed. It's her baby. Show how the time has come for something new to elevate your product or service in the minds of your customers.
It is possible that the changes you seek are beyond this particular web designer's capabilities.
Depending on the circumstances, you may want to have the original designer provide input or insight for the approach she used before you incorporate the new features you want from another web designer into your site. Otherwise, you may be reinventing the wheel.
Challenge #3: Your deadlines loom too close for comfort.
Opportunity: If a company always expects "rush" service, stipulate that you’ll charge extra for that.
If possible, quote a longer deadline than what you think you’ll need. Then deliver earlier. If something unexpected comes up, you'll still be on time.
If you need help in determining a deadline, outline your projects before writing anything. The visual plan will help you decide on a reasonable time frame.
Challenge #4: A project baffles you.
Opportunity: Unleash your creativity. Do something completely different to unlock your brain block.
You could follow the obvious paths of consulting with fellow copywriters or researching a product or company more thoroughly. Certainly, these time-honored endeavors can work. Except, they keep your mind directly plugged into the same type of information, which can squelch creativity.
Instead, hold a birthday party for your child. Go to a movie. Cook. Play cards. Fish. Knit. Walk the dog. Make a Play-Doh figure. Exercise. Just do something completely different from your copywriting project.
You may be surprised at all of the new angles and ideas that erupt, just because you allowed your mind to work its magic.
Then go back to your project refreshed and relaxed.
Challenge #5: Your industry just got disrupted. We know disruption typically involves out-of-the-box thinking.
What if Pepsi wanted to topple Coke's market share? For this, the decision makers wonder why a boxed beverage container couldn't be used instead of a cylindrical one. While the new design would be distinctive, how would that impact beverage dispensers, cup holder design, product packaging mold formation, costs, and ultimately, sales?
This out-of-the-box thinking may not be disruptive enough for this example.
What if, instead, a product, service, or entire industry became obsolete? No more brick-and-mortar stores. No more watches. No more bookkeeping.
Opportunity: Whatever the disruption is, opportunity follows; therefore, blaze a trail. Don't wait to copy someone else. Be the one to copy. Think of what companies may want as a result of the disruption in that industry, and go for it.
By being first to tackle a new approach, you’ll also position yourself as a successful consultant whom others want to copy.
Tweak your mindset to view challenges as opportunities, and you may find yourself becoming the go-to copywriter for many companies. In fact, you might find clients view you as a problem solver.
If you can add out-of-the-box thinking, a fresh perspective or angle, and a willingness to tackle not only your own challenges, but also those of your clients, you’ll deepen your knowledge and have more fun creating results.
Seek challenges, but think “opportunity” to use those challenges to your advantage.
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