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EIGHT QUESTIONS TO ANSWER ABOUT YOUR PROJECT BEFORE YOU HIRE A COPYWRITER 1. Have I worked with a copywriter (or similar creative professional such as a graphic designer) before? How did it go? What do I want to do differently this time around? 2. Am I willing to work together with a professional and relinquish some creative control? Am I ready to trust a professional to communicate my message? 3. Where does my product or service fit in the marketplace? (In other words: Do I understand the business I’m in well enough to be engaging a writer?) 4. Who is the target audience for the material?

(Hint: It is not “adults from 20-80 years old that live anywhere.”) 5. What is my unique selling proposition (USP)? (Hint: Why me and why now?) 6. What are the features and benefits of the product or service I’m promoting? (Hint: A feature is a characteristic of the product. A benefit is what the customer will gain by using the product.) 7. How does the copy fit into the overall marketing plan? Will the copy need to be repurposed for other marketing materials? 8. What are the goals for the copy? How will I know when I’ve achieved them?

BONUS: FIVE TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR OWN COMPELLING CONTENT /// Get crystal clear on your USP Yeah, I know that I mentioned this one in the questions above too. It’s that important. Without it, your copy is simply not going to get results. Invest

time before you start writing to uncover why people should buy your product in the crowded marketplace. A key part of your USP is tapping into your target audience’s psyche. What keeps them awake at night? What are they yearning for? What would make their lives easier? What would make their lives more joyful and meaningful?

/// Unsubscribe from blogs and newsletters Chances are that you subscribe to industry leaders’ blogs and newsletters. I’m not suggesting you eliminate this important market research from your business strategy. I am suggesting that unsubscribing is an important first step toward writing in your own language, tone, and brand without your competitor’s lexicon swimming around in your brain. This can be a temporary exercise. Try a blog and newsletter reading fast for at least a week before starting to work on your own marketing copy. /// Create a word bank for your brand Start by making a list of at least 20 words that come to mind when someone asks you to describe your business and your product or service results. Revisit the list a couple days later, and narrow it down to the ten most powerful and compelling words. Use these liberally throughout your marketing materials to strengthen your brand.

/// Write for an audience of one Picture your ideal client and speak directly to him/her. You likely have that one client who achieved impressive results as a result of your services (and was a dream to work with). Chances are pretty high that none of your competitors has the same favorite client. Close your eyes and picture that client. Now open them, and for whatever marketing collateral you happen to be working on, pretend you’re writing directly to him/her. Pretend that you’re creating content for his/her eyes only. /// Track results Once you’ve written your content, publish it. Then, track the results. (In copywriter language, we call this the conversion rate.) Did the copy do what you wanted it to do? Are you getting the sign-ups, the sales, the open rates, or the click-throughs? If not, rework the copy. Delete the first paragraph. Make it shorter. Move the purchase buttons. Add photos. Add video. Change fonts. Make sure you’re communicating the benefits.

Ana Ottman Los Angeles, California | October 2013

8 questions to answer about your project before you hire a copywriter.  
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