When it comes down to it, great copy will not happen without the help of the client. Most people think all they need is to find a great writer and all their copy worries are over. That’s not entirely true. Any experienced copywriter will tell their clients they need a bit of information so they can give them what they want. If a copywriter doesn’t ask for any help or information, buyers should run the other way!
Let’s face it, freelance writers know their industry, not the industry they are being contracted to write about. When working with clients, writers have to bow to their authority in their industry in order to give them the copy they want. Most writers are contracted because it’s a skill their client doesn’t have or they don’t have time to write the copy they are contracting a writer to produce. In this relationship, the client is the most knowledgeable resource a writer can have.
Expertly Gather Information and Get Help
No writer worth their keyboard wants to make themselves look like a novice when it comes to gathering help and expertise from the client. Instead of getting the necessary information in an awkward Q&A session, writers should use briefs to get it.
A brief is a short, written form used to gather as much information as possible in a professional manner. The most professional firms will use briefs to get the information they want and need to create the perfect copy.
The brief of a freelance writer should include some very important things. Without certain information, the writing process is delayed and consistent calls to the client could jeopardize future work for that writer. To get the most information, briefs should include questions like:
- What is the focus of this marketing initiative?
- Who is the audience exactly?
- Is there another audience?
- What is will the call to action be for this audience?
- Is there anything to support the claims for this product or service?
- Who is the competition?
- What is the tone this copy should have?
- Where will the copy be used? Will it be online, on television, mailers or other media?
Once the project is accepted and the outlines are agreed upon, writers should take a moment to ask another set of questions. These questions can include:
- What tone should the copy have?
- What don’t you want to see?
- What industry concerns have to be taken into account?
- Is someone else doing the same thing? Why is THIS better?
- What is the point of view to be used?
These seem like obvious questions but many writers don’t ask. They don’t ask and they fail to deliver a first round draft and often earn the ire of their client.
At the end of the day, great copy is the result of a writer and client coming together. A great writer writes the copy but the concept is born of honest conversations with the client. Without the client’s expertise and experience, a writer cannot produce copy that stops people in their tracks, calling to their needs.