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How Important Has Being “Forgettable” Been to Your Success?

Say you had some home fix-it project that you hired someone to take care of, because you’ve just got too much going on. You’re thinking, he’ll show up, get the details, and then he’ll go to work. You’ll go back to your to-do list until an hour or so later, when he calls to you up the stairs and lets you know he’s done. Write the check. Finito.

If instead, he kept calling you down time after time with more questions, or asking to borrow tools, or chatting about his operation, or his wife’s shopping habits, or the last episode of American Idol, there’d come a point where you’d say to yourself, (all together now…): F’cryin’ out loud, I’d have been better off doing it myself.

Did an encore plenary speech appearance at the Washington Independent Writers annual conference this past June. The theme of my talk was “Creating a Memorable Box.” Given that human beings like to put things in boxes as a way of quantifying the world around them, the more we can make ourselves memorable to our clients, the more success we’ll have. I defined “creating a memorable box” in this way:

Make what you bring to the professional table a “predictably enjoyable and rewarding experience” for your clients and you’ll find a receptive and returning audience.

One of the memorable boxes I discussed was being forgettable. I do case studies for a large manufacturing company in Atlanta. I get a few grand to do a 1500-word story that takes me maybe 12-15 hours to do. They never question my fees. Why? Because after they give me the parameters in an email, I ask a few questions and then I’m gone – until it’s due. No endless phone calls or emails.

They go back to doing their jobs – which is how it’s supposed to work – and forget aaaaaall about me until the finished product shows up in their email box – ready for prime time. For any writer in any arena, reliability, dependability and yes, “forgetability” are solid gold boxes to be put in.

(NOTE: Not surprisingly, this is a company with money – which is key. When money isn’t a big issue for a company, but bottom line profitability and competitive edge ARE, the work HAS to be done right. As such, the desire for reliable, predictable competence will always trump cost.)

While the following idea should be a “well, duh…,” we all know how that sometimes goes. Here’s it is: A company will hire a writer because they don’t have the skills, time or both to handle it in-house. The whole point of hiring that writer is to create less, not more work for themselves.

After they meet with you once, and give you the scoop on the project, your goal should be to vanish from their minds, gloriously freeing them up to do their jobs. Sure, every job is different, and some involve more client contact, but no matter the situation, the extent to which you operate autonomously is the extent to which you will create that predictably enjoyable and rewarding experience that will keep clients coming back.

How important is it to your clients that you’re forgettable?

What strategies do you employ for being forgettable for your clients?

What lessons has being forgettable taught you?