When you get a specialist on board to help with your project and you haven’t worked together before, there’s always some degree of trust involved. For starters there’s the sheer number of people everywhere you look online, making all kinds of claims and assurances. How sure are you that you’ve made a good choice?
Or maybe somebody has been referred to you by a contact you know well, they have glowing testimonials to their name and appear to be the right fit for your project. But as the saying goes, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.
Maybe a copywriter has been in your orbit for a while now- you follow their pages, sub to their newsletter, read their articles. Or maybe you do this with more than one copywriter- and the time is here to enquire about getting help with your copy. On the one hand you want to find the best person for the job required, and that can take time. But hesitation has a 0% completion rate. Analysis paralysis, they call it.
So how exactly do you make a decision with the most confidence of getting the results you’re after?
Unfortunately, there’s operators out there who are silver-tongued masters of spin, but can’t deliver to the same level on the actual project front. Or perhaps they genuinely do great work for the majority of their clients, but (for one reason or another) they just aren’t the right fit for you?
To help you make the best-informed decision you can, today I share this 5 point checklist of things to take note of when you’re screening for a copywriter. Following this checklist, you can then make a better informed decision on whether a potential copywriter is the real deal- and the more confident you are in your decision making, the better your chances of making the right choice:
#1. Do they promote themselves- or their clients?
Who is the main focus of their messaging? Is it the clients who are paying them- or does most of their writing arrive at a similar conclusion: How awesome am I?
Of course, taking pride in your achievements is perfectly reasonable- but if their focus is primarily on their own greatness rather than the success of their clients, you have to ask what their real motivation is? Is it a genuine desire to produce outstanding work and help their clients succeed, taking pride in a job well done that makes somebody else’s life (and their business) better? Or is it just another excuse to validate their self-worship?
If they talk too much about themselves- how experienced they are, their skill, their accolades, their prestige- this is a warning sign they could be far more focused on their own image than on what they actually deliver for their clients.
#2. Do they live in the real world- or a partisan box?
When I say “the real world”, is it evident they recognise a world exists outside of the internet, outside of their inner circle? Can they disagree with other people but still understand their position with a fair degree of accuracy and good faith? After all, the real world is a place of nuance, personal experience and overlap, and a good copywriters’ understanding of the world should reflect this.
If their worldview is limited to: People like me= good, people not like me= bad, how might that translate when it comes to their ability to understand your business as a whole?
What about writing for the clients you serve and understanding what really motivates them? This counts especially if your clients are not the type of people they typically associate with.
Another problem with somebody forming their worldview based upon a small number of curated, mainstream sources is that it stunts their ability to think independently and see a more detailed picture. A good copywriter needs to be innovative and capable of thinking outside the box. If their worldview is limited and they fail to understand ideas that fall outside of that box, how will this translate into their ability to write effective copy and brainstorm fresh, game-changing ideas for your marketing strategy as a whole?
#3. Do they know how to keep it simple?
As David Ogilvy said in ‘Confessions Of An Advertising Man‘: “Either an ad works or it doesn’t.”
After all, when it comes to your concerns, the accolades they’ve been given, the awards they’ve received, the people they know on a first-name basis or the books they’ve read don’t really matter. These all might suggest achievement and prestige, sure, but they’re all secondary to the #1 most important thing of all to you:
How good are they at understanding your goals and converting that into copy that actually works?
Many times, it doesn’t require verbose, multi-paragraph miniature essays where they get to show off their vocabulary. Name-dropping who they know or what they’ve read rarely factors either. What counts is the know-how to keep it simple when that’s all it needs. Don’t overdo it. A simple message can be a great one- and a powerful one.
#4. Are they all about the data- or YOUR priorities?
This kind of follows #3:
It’s good to understand the data behind copy- what click/ open rate a change of headline brings your campaign, what keywords are lesser used but have the potential to make your site rank through the roof on search engines- but all to a point. If they’re constantly going on about numbers, figures and data and not really highlighting how they make life better for their clients- then they’re focusing on the wrong thing.
The aim of effective copy isn’t to get better numbers on a graph or produce data that looks good. The aim of effective copy is to persuade more of the people it’s targeted at to take action- whether that’s to order online, call, subscribe or fill out the contact form. Their #1 priority should be to either:
a) Help you achieve these results from working with you directly or,
b) Help you achieve these results through the knowledge they share
Either your marketing message works, or it doesn’t. Achieving the former result for clients should be the #1 focus of any copywriter worth considering.
#5. What guarantees do they offer- if any?
You most likely know your business inside and out, far better than any potential copywriter is going to. You can talk on the phone, meet in person, communicate back and forth and share all the most important details when it comes to your business. But still- you have the day-to-day experience of what it’s like to work in your business. You know how you want the finished product to sound and to feel when it comes to your copy. As a result, the draft your copywriter submits is not always going to be a perfect match for what you envisaged the first time.
So in that case, what guarantees are there to ensure your investment is as low-risk as possible?
What guarantees does your copywriter promise, if any?
It’s for this reason I offer 5 guarantees to all of my clients:
If your copy has a deadline date, we can meet it.
This means there’s no added or hidden expenses after terms have been agreed to. What you see on the proposal is what you get on the invoice. What you see on the invoice is what you pay and what you’re paying for. You pay nothing more, and you get nothing less.
From putting together the first draft to final edit, you’re kept informed on project status every step of the way.
#4. Unlimited Edits
For 1 month after submission of the first draft, any additional edits (if required) come at zero extra cost to you.
If we can’t help you to achieve the results you’re looking for when it comes to your marketing, we’ll refer you to somebody who can. So just from getting in contact, you’ll get the result you’re looking for!
Maybe you need copy now or it’s on your to-do list. Maybe we end up working together or you choose one of the other fine copywriters out there (and they do exist!). Whatever your situation and whatever you choose, this guide should help in making your final decision and doing so with confidence. Knowing what to look for gives you the best chance of finding the right person for the job and seeing a finished product you can be proud of when it comes to your copy.
And- if you’d like to chat further about anything to do with your copy, you can reach me here