If working with your copywriter was a breeze, you just wasted your money
July 20, 2015 • Glenn Murray
When you pay someone to mow your lawn, you expect them to take the entire job off your hands. They turn up, they mow, you pay them, they leave. No input required from you at all.
Likewise, when you eat at a restaurant, all the work’s done for you. Or when you pay to get a tree cut down, or have your office cleaned or your car washed. You don’t have to help at all.
There are so many ‘set and forget’ services in our lives that it’s temping to think all services work that way.
But they don’t.
A copywriter, for instance, will always need to ask you a lot of questions. Always. If they don’t, there’s no way they can know what really sets you apart from your competitors. Or what drives your customers. Or what you’re really trying to say.
Here’s an example…
I’m writing copy for a laser hair removal clinic at the moment. 4 web pages, a 1-minute video script and an ad concept. Before I started, I sent the client an 11-page questionnaire with 65 questions:
I do this for almost every job. And it’s usually just the starting point. I tell my clients the questionnaire will probably be enough for me to start their copy, but not enough for me to finish.
“But how could you possibly need to ask more than 65 questions to write a few pages of copy?!” That’s what you’re thinking, right?
Well, sometimes I think the client’s answers are wrong. Or incomplete. Like this morning…
In her questionnaire, my laser hair removal client said the video script should be about their professionalism and male customer base:
That looks reasonable from a distance, but when you try to write a script based on that, you quickly discover it’s not enough. Professionalism, commitment, safety and customer breakdown are all features of their service. What are the benefits?
Plus, based on some of her other answers, I thought she might have overlooked something.
So I asked for clarification:
Sure, I could have made some assumptions here (and sometimes I do, then highlight my assumptions in the copy deck so they pay close attention to that section of the copy during review). But I have to be very careful doing that. If I’m wrong, it tends to derail the review process a bit, and the client may be annoyed that I’ve ignored their instructions.
Or I could have simply written exactly what she asked for. Focused on features. That would certainly have been faster and easier for both of us. And she may not have even noticed. The copy would have read well, and because it would have said exactly what she asked for, she might have approved it instantly and paid me with a smile.
But a month later, when the video was failing to convert, she wouldn’t be smiling.
No. The truth is, if your copywriter gives you a ‘set and forget’ experience, and you get your copy without lifting a finger, you’ve probably just wasted your money.