Questions a Copywriter should ask.
At the start of every copywriting project, the first thing any good freelance copywriter will do is ask a number of questions about your business and the project.
I would be very wary of copywriters that don’t ask questions about your business. I learnt early on that writing copy without sufficient knowledge and a good brief produces poor results, makes projects run long, and damages relationships with clients.
Whilst this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are 10 questions that I ask almost every client, to ensure that I can meet the brief and produce interesting, engaging and relevant content in a timely manner.
What would you like me to do? – This might sound simple but often, clients aren’t entirely sure what they want from a copywriter. It might be they have broad strategic aims (e.g. to improve their marketing materials), but haven’t decided on the specifics. This question gives me chance to offer advice, and discuss how I can help the client.
When do you want to get started on the project? – This is something that I never used to ask, but I’ve found to be really useful. Often, clients aren’t ready to start a project for a couple of months and if they let me know, I don’t have to waste our time needlessly chasing work.
When do you need it for? – It is really useful to get a handle on the deadlines, so I can manage my workflow, and keep my clients happy. Deadlines are really helpful, and I find when people set completion dates on projects, they are more likely to look through the work, suggest amends and additions, and help me to complete it in a timely fashion.
How many people will be involved in the project at your end? – Whenever I ask this question, I always hope that the answer is 1! The phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” comes to mind as invariably, the more people who are involved at the client end, the longer the project will take! Amends by committee can ruin good copy, and if a client says they are going to pass the content around the office – I make it clear that I only want to speak with the person who has final approval.
Can I see your existing marketing materials? - Chances are that I have already seen the client’s website (if they have one) to get some background information, but I won’t have seen their brochures, leaflets and newsletters. Even if the client hates their current content, it gives me a handle on some dos and don’ts when writing new content.
Who is this content aimed at? – Usually, businesses know who their customers are, and who they want to reach with their marketing materials and websites. Understanding the target demographics and audience is an important part of the research and planning process, and ensures that I can create content that is interesting and relevant.
What is the purpose of this content? – Finding out what the client wants to achieve from their content is paramount. Understanding where the content will appear, and what they want customers to do when they see the copy helps me to decide on an appropriate voice and style.
Who are your competitors? – By finding out who my clients’ main competitors are, I can gain a better understanding of the industry they work in. Looking at competitors’ websites and marketing campaigns gives me reference materials to look at, enabling me to quickly gain knowledge about an industry.
Why should customers choose your business? – Good marketing content focuses on the benefits to customers, and once I know what sets my client’s business apart from its competitors, I can integrate this into the content.
Are there any websites/marketing materials you particularly like? – Whilst I never plagiarise content, looking at websites and marketing materials that my clients like helps me to define the style, formatting and voice to use when writing their content.