One of the biggest challenges a copywriter faces is to make future clients feel confident in his or her ability. You know you can deliver, but your clients don't know that... yet! In my own experiences as a freelancer, I've noticed that the most hesitant potential clients often ask the same questions. Following are answers to help allay their fears.
1. How do I know your writing style is the right one for my company?
I understand where this question comes from, because I ask it myself when I need to solicit the help of another writer. A good copywriter would never inject her own personality or opinion into the work she does for other people. Rather, she adopts the appropriate tone for their particular industry.
When it comes to writing, I consider myself something of a chameleon. If you take a look at the varied samples on my website, Wordfeeder.com, you'll see that I can change my colors to suit a purpose. Am I Cybil? No, I'm just good at imitating the way that people talk.
Professional copywriters will agree: language is a handy tool for manipulating emotions. If you choose your words carefully, you can make people respond in a certain way. If you know how your target audience thinks and speaks, you can communicate with them in a way that brings a favorable reaction. It's sort of like being emotionally multilingual!
How is a copywriter able to write a whimsical children's story one day and a hard-hitting marketing brochure the next? Acute awareness of the audience, and the ability to switch the "voice" that comes out through the words. You do this all the time without even thinking about it!
Let's say you're a lawyer by day, and a family man by night. Imagine yourself having a phone conversation with a client. What words do you choose to convey your message? What tone do you take? Later on, after you've hung up, you're tucking your little boy in for the night. He asks for a bedtime story. Do you speak to him in the same manner you used earlier on the phone? Of course not! You instinctively change your tone, from cool and professional to tender and fatherly. This is the same strategy that copywriters use to make their living. It's our job to represent YOUR company, by mastering the language that your audience understands.
2. We just became acquainted. How can you write for someone you barely know?
Once you sign a writing contract with me, I make it my business to know who you are and what you stand for. If you're a corporation, then I take the time to familiarize myself with your company philosophy. If you're an individual, I learn your goals and personal style. It's incredibly important for a copywriter to know what makes his clients tick... so that he can embody this in his writing and effectively drawn in a responsive audience. The process happens in steps.
1. We'll have an initial phone conversation or email correspondence.
2. I'll send you a questionnaire that you can either fill out in detail, or we can discuss over the phone.
3. I research your company, industry, and target audience.
Every so often I use an icebreaker to get things flowing between me and my entrepreneur clients. This is great fun for me, and my clients really seem to enjoy it, too. I send them what I call Twenty Questions; an informal quiz that will help me get a flavor for who they are. Two sample question from the quiz:
- What's the thing that drives you get out of bed every morning, ready to face a new day?
- If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
Sounds a bit off the wall when placed in this context, but let me stress that I only use the quiz on select clients (never for corporations). It works every time! Remember: my goal is to capture the essence of who you are and what you represent. We're going to keep on trying until we hit the nail on the head.
3. What do you know about branding?
People ask me this all the time. Branding is nothing more than a concept, but an unbelievably important one that should be the basis for all of your advertising messages. Branding is the gradual process by which you burn your name into the mind of the consumer. Some classic examples of branding at its finest? General Electric. McDonalds. Microsoft. You get an instant and distinct impression when you hear these names. That's some killer branding all right!
How did these brands come to be the households name that they are? Consistency. If you want to build a solid reputation for your company, you must stand firm in your philosophy. You must develop an actual physical image that people recognize (think of the Golden Arches). And above all, you must always speak to the same people in the same way. When people know that they can count on you for predictable behavior, they'll begin to trust you. Customers who trust in your brand always come back.
As a copywriter, I'm your Branding Watchdog. I'll make sure you never fall off the branding wagon and start talking like somebody you're not. You should never have to tell your writer, "Let's work on branding," because it's something that gets factored in automatically. Branding is part of the package, and you won't be a smashing success until the backbone of your brand is firmly in place.
4. What if I don't care for what you've written?
Clients with a tight budget usually ask me this question. The answer that always pops into my mind is this: "Do you walk into a restaurant and ask, 'What if I don't like the food?'" Of course not, because you understand that there's always a small amount of risk. "Let the Buyer Beware!" is the famous cliche that still rings true. Even so: if I want to keep you as a customer, I'm going to do the best job possible to ensure your satisfaction.
I'm like the guy who runs a restaurant. He makes sure your food is prepared just the right way, so you'll enjoy it and return again. Likewise, I prepare your copy just the right way, in the hope that you'll absolutely love it and want to return to my website for some repeat business.
My sole purpose is to create writing materials that reflect your brand intelligently and professionally. You pay me to represent you, so I make your needs priority one. That means I provide rewrites until you're happy with the end result. Copywriters with a true passion for their work will welcome this challenge, and they won't stop until you're completely thrilled by what they've created for you. I truly feel this way, and I promise that once we work together, you'll "catch the creative fever," too.
5. How long will this project take to complete?
I'll be perfectly honest: to provide you with the most accurate assessment, I need your feedback. Give your copywriter a helping hand, and volunteer as much information as possible. How many words/pages? Will this be a kit that contains multiple elements, or a quick 500-word article? Will this project require in-depth research? All of this affects the time it will take to do a quality job. And while quantity is important, quality is more important. I refuse to hand in sloppy work because you wanted the job done yesterday.
Additionally: the less certain you are of what you want, the longer I'll spend doing "test drafts" that you'll read and give feedback on. This is quite all right by me, but I will warn you that it may lengthen the time it takes to finish the project. On the other hand, if you know exactly what you want and can express it in a detailed way, your website copy could take less than a week to create!
I hope I've been able to address your concerns as a potential copywriting client, as well as shed some light on the copywriting process itself. I truly love what I do, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than putting my creative skill to work helping you build an empire of wealth and success. If you're thinking of starting your own business, now's a great time. I wish you all the luck in the world! And if you ever need a copywriter... you know who to call. ;)
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with ten years of industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.