When taking on a new copywriting client, I want to really “get” their business and their goals for the copywriting project. It’s my job to find out before embarking on any writing: where are they now, and where do they want to be after this copy project is complete?
25 questions may seem like a lot, but this interview saves me – and the client! – a lot of time in the long run. It helps to ensure that the process of crafting their website (or other) copy is as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
It also means that I’m much more likely to accurately deliver the message that they’re looking for and hit the jackpot with my copy in fewer drafts.
Here are the 25 questions I always ask:
- First (and this is always first!), who is your ideal customer / client / reader? Who is most valuable to your business? Tell me about them – in as much detail as possible.
- Next, tell me about your secondary and tertiary audiences.
- What’s the purpose of this project? Can you define the project’s goal in one line?
- What is the one single action you want visitors to take? Let’s define a clear and focussed CTA (Call to action) which is the most valuable action your website readers can take. Examples might be: Joining an email marketing list, Selling a certain package, Contacting you, A direct sale. Or it might be improved SEO.
- Any Search Terms to be aware of? (SEO). What are the keywords or key phrases that you’re trying to rank for?
- Have your customers used this sort of product or service before? If so, whose? (Competitors). If not, why not?
- What concerns do your customers frequently have?
- What questions are you frequently asked?
- The experience: What feelings or emotions do you want to evoke with this piece?
- The sales process. How does your funnel work? What is the step by step process users take before and after a sale?
- The ideal before / after scenario – what transformation are you selling with your product or service?
- Who is making the purchase decision? The reader or someone higher up the chain that they will defer to?
13. What are the benefits, benefits, benefits of your product of service?
14. Features, features, features! How do you differ from your competition? Your USPs?
15. Do you have any testimonials?
16. Do you have any statistics & case studies we can use?
17. Existing materials: Do you have any marketing materials that you like? What do you like about them?
18. Any that you dislike? Why?
19. Do you have defined corporate values or a mission statement you could share?
20. The tone of your brand: Is it friendly, formal, funny? Any sample copy or other brands you like?
21. Is there a word count?
22. What’s your timeframe?
23. What’s your budget?
24. Sign off process – who has final say on this piece and what will the approval process look like?
25. Work style – how do you like to work & communicate? How often and how?
Of course, there may be follow-on questions from this initial list, and you should always leave some time for the client to ask you any questions they may have, too.
How to collect these answers
Some people might prefer to do this Q&A via email so that the answers are already notated, and so that the client has more time to think about their responses. Whilst I can see this approach working better in some situations, in most cases I prefer to jump on the phone for this exercise. The reasons are:
- I can use the time to connect with the client and build a deeper relationship
- I’m able to ask follow on questions if a certain question leads to an interesting line of enquiry
- Sending over the questions via email can make the exercise seem a bit intimidating and may lead to a long delay on the client’s behalf vs. a one hour phone call
- You can gauge a lot from the client’s tone of voice / emotions that are evoked by the q&a!
As such, I tend to type / scribble madly during our call, but what I’m left with is a great resource for kick-starting a great project off.
I’d love to hear from you! Have you any questions that you’d like to ask / be asked before a big copy writing project starts? Leave a comment!
Note – these questions are specifically for copywriting projects, not content. If you’re not sure what the difference is, there’s a breakdown of copy vs. content here.
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