When you’re creating content for customers, it’s smart to put it in front of a few people before you distribute it widely. But a common and serious pitfall in professional communications is letting everyone and her Aunt Mary look over materials, each feeling free to add a critique.
The VP of marketing doesn’t think it’s sexy enough. The accountant thinks the word plethora would sound better than many. (There’s a reason he’s an accountant.) The lawyers think you might be promising more than you can deliver if your company happened to get hit by a 7.0 earthquake the same week of an economy-crippling stock market crash. The CEO wants to see her name in bigger letters. The founder wants to see his name in bigger letters. The top salesman wants to see his name in bigger letters.
You get the point.
When you make all of these people happy, you end up with mush. Mashed potatoes are a nice side dish. They don’t make for a very satisfying dinner.
Who should control your content?
Prune your approvals list down to no more than three people:
- Your strongest writer.
- The person who owns customer experience (that person might need some education about the benefits of transparency, setting realistic expectations, and avoiding hype).
- Maybe your lawyer, but don’t accept her first take on every point.
(As a side note, when your lawyer tries to keep you from doing something that you think is a good idea, ask why. Don’t quit asking until you fully understand the answer. This is a good time to be a pain in the ass.)
If those three people are happy, you have a good piece. Send it through a fanatic proofreader, release it to print, and move on.
Homework: List everyone on your approval list for customer communications. Does the list strike you as insane at all?