As a freelance copywriter, work is always varied. Each project involves research to gain an understanding of the subject matter from the customer’s perspective. I need to convey the message that the company wants to deliver, in a manner which appeals to the reader.
No task has involved as much customer research as a three-month project that I took on at the end of 2018.
Gathering Views from the Community
A local charitable organisation wanted to submit a funding application. The funding body wanted clear evidence that any allocated funding would be used to directly benefit the community. Rather than look at demographical data, the funding body required that the organisation went out and spoke with the community.
I took on the challenge of compiling and executing a plan to get over 300 representative views, through direct conversations with community members. It was no mean feat!
I compiled the findings into a report, which accompanied the funding application. The outcome of the research was fascinating. Many of the reasons that people liked about living in the area would not have shown up on standard data; including the green areas, or the close proximity of family or friends.
The areas for improvement from the community’s perspective focused on cleaning up litter, making it easier for school children to cross the roads and more information about local activities and events. These points would not have been priorities if an outside agency was to look at employment, crime, free school meal allocation or other such statistics on the area.
The Importance of Speaking Directly to Customers
As a freelance copywriter, this community project highlighted the importance of speaking directly to customers for feedback on my services.
Every business knows that they need to meet the needs of their customers in order to survive. Many companies spend money researching their target client group. They sit behind a desk reviewing data and may even send out the occasional survey to get customer feedback.
Data can certainly offer insight, however, when it comes to customers, it can also lead us to make assumptions. We read data from our perspective and impart our own values and opinions on what it tells us. As the community project clearly illustrated, this does not necessarily tally with the experience of others.
Placing Value on Personal Interaction with Customers
I know that personal interaction has been fundamental in developing good customer relations, as well as future referrals. I enjoy meeting my customers in person and it is a skill I observe in many other freelancers and small business owners. It is this personal touch, combined with a willingness to adapt, that can give micro-businesses an advantage over large corporations.
If it has been a while since you last spoke to one of your loyal customers in person, I would recommend dedicating a little time to having an open conversation.
Unfortunately, this particular bid application was unsuccessful, although there was very positive feedback on the research.
“Everyone involved did a great job in reaching a large and diverse group of residents and gathering feedback from the community. The range of methods used was positive. The engagement process seems to have provided the opportunity to build new relationships with residents and local groups, which we hope will support your work into the future.”
Alex Kerney – Senior Partnerships and Learning Officer
All is not lost. The report is now being used to inform future funding applications that clearly tie into the priorities of the community.