How Working With a Copywriter Works
If you’re thinking about working with a copywriter, this guide will arm you with all the information you need so you won’t feel out of your depth when you approach them to discuss your requirements.
The process of working with a copywriter
Most copywriters will follow a three stage process, which can be considered as before writing, writing and after writing.
Stage 1: research and discovery
The aim of this part of the process is to gather as much data as possible to inform the project and deliver a result that delivers maximum return on investment.
This phase will dive deeply into your product, your company, your competitors, your customers and your market. The aim is to understand exactly where your product or service fits in the marketplace, what drives people to need your product or service and the barriers to purchase.
Your copywriter will ask to interview you and other members of your team as necessary to get the information they need. If you’re not sure about any of the information they will be happy to discuss them with you to gain the detail they need.
They will want to know the specifics of the project they will be working on:
- The format — is it a four page leaflet, a 20 page website, a 3,000 word white paper, a 750 word blog etc
- The deadline — does this need to be written for tomorrow or is the deadline in a month or so’s time? (A word to the wise: “a month” [or more] is better than “tomorrow”. Your copywriter won’t thank you if you always need things in a rush. The best ones will be fully booked at such short notice and won’t be able to fit your work in anyway. Plus, you’ll always get a better result when they’ve had time to get a proper grasp of what’s required.)
- The aim — what do you need the project to achieve? Raise awareness? Inform? Entertain? Celebrate? Manage expectations? Highlight an achievement? And what do you want people to do after reading it? Call? Download something? Buy something?
- The KPI — what results would you like the project to achieve? How many sales? How many calls? etc
They will also want to know about your business more widely. You should be ready to share the following.
- Your current marketing strategy and business plan
- Marketing and tone of voice documentation etc you use
- Marketing literature you have (past and present)
- Market research information
- Pricing information
- Website analytics
- The results of any customer surveys you have carried out
- Details of customers who would be willing to let your copywriter interview them to find out about their experiences with you
- Details of the magazines and websites your target customers read
- Details of your competitors and your strengths and weaknesses in relation to them.
Aside from the information gathering, they will also want to confirm the people involved in the project: the project manager, the direct project team, the people who need to be kept in the loop and the person responsible for signing off. Doing this creates clarity and means you will get to a better result faster.
Stage 2: writing and editing
The aim of this part of the process is to make sure you have a powerful piece of work that will deliver on its objectives.
This is the nitty gritty of the project where your copywriter will be writing the project. They will have discussed the timescale with you and will let you know when you can expect the first draft of the work. Most copywriters will deliver the first draft to you in Microsoft Word format or something similar, so it will be easy for you to make comments in as you wish.
Your copywriter will discuss with you the approach the piece needs to take and will also do a great deal of research to confirm the right decisions have been made. It means that the copy they write will speak directly to your target customer.
This level of research gives you reassurance that this element of the project has been taken care of. It means that when you are reading and assessing copy, you can pay close attention to the nitty gritty of the text such as:
- tone of voice
- legal aspects.
The work put in during the research and discovery phase means it is likely that the first draft will be very close to delivering on its objective. Most copywriters allow for one or two rounds of amends in their price but others will be happy to discuss and amend until you are completely confident it speaks effectively to its target audience.
Once you have signed off the copy, it moves into the design phase (if this is required). During this phase, your copywriter will be on hand to work closely with your design team to make sure that copy and design and working together in harmony to deliver maximum impact and maximum returns.
Stage three: testing and measuring
The aim of this phase is to measure results and assess how they could be improved.
This phase happens once the project has been launched. Your copywriter will work alongside your analytics team to look at user data and explore improvements that will enhance the results you get. This information be used to inform future projects.
How do you share this information with your copywriter?
Your copywriter will work with you in the way you feel most comfortable. If it’s easiest to chat things over while your copywriter makes notes, then do that. If you want to put together a formal written brief, then do that instead. Copywriters are great listeners and they love reading, so however you want to do it is fine. The most important thing is that you share as much information as you can. Your copywriter will be used to handling confidential information and to distilling the essence of what you say, so there is no need to worry about overloading them or sharing sensitive information. The more information you’re able to share, the better the result.