10 things your copywriter does not want to hear

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Your written collateral speaks volumes about who you are as a brand. The way it is crafted and the time it takes to get it just right often involves several edits before your copywriter client delivers a first draft.

A good copywriter will find your brand voice and write in the style that connects with your target audience. He/she will pick out the key messages that need to be brought to the forefront, within a narrative structured to tell your story in the way it needs to be told.

Many companies know they need a website, report or corporate brochure, but when they engage a copywriter, you need to be clear on your requirements. The more ambiguity, the less chance of getting the result you need. Here are some approaches not to take:

1- We haven’t got a brief as such

If you can’t provide a clear brief of what you need, you cannot expect a copywriter to produce the most satisfactory end result. If you were a car salesperson, it would be helpful for you to know the make and model the customer was looking for before selling the benefits and specifications. Not that car sales has anything to do with copywriting, but you get the idea.

It may be that you need a copywriter that has experience in consulting with clients to drill down into the essence of the business, its target audience and the main aims you want to achieve from your website for example. However, you’ll need to understand that consulting services take time and are likely to be charged as an additional service to the later function of producing the copy.

2- We have a five-draft approval system here

There is no reason for this. For most of our clients, THE BLACK AND WHITE GROUP works on a perfectly good system of two drafts – one initial draft, then an amended draft based on client feedback. There are instances where a hierarchical company will need a number of reviews and approvals, but even these can all be performed in a full review using tracked changes and comments boxes, avoiding the back-and-forth of amending each draft before moving to the next review stage.

If there are likely to be multiple rounds of reviews, make it clear in the brief so your copywriter can factor it into the cost.

3- I don’t like this. Write something different

If you can say what you don’t like, and you’re not making a big departure from the original brief, then absolutely fine. On the other hand, if you can’t express why you don’t like a first draft, it’s like a needle in a haystack and cannot yield a satisfactory conclusion.

4- We don’t have any unique points, but can you conjure some up?

This is as problematic as the point above – even more so for your copywriter than for you. But it is a surprisingly common request. If your company can’t identify its own uniqueness, how can an outside service provider?

5- We’ve decided to go for a completely different angle

Once more, this comes down to the issue of brief. A copywriter will have based his/her cost on a specific scope of work, as would someone building an extension onto your house. You suddenly change the size and specification and the builder needs to re-cost the job. If you completely change the scope of a copywriting brief half-way through, it’s like starting again and you cannot expect it to be done for the same price.

6- Here is our scanned handwritten feedback

Give feedback in comments boxes – and where applicable tracked changes – only please. Nine times out of ten, your scanned handwritten comments will be open to misinterpretation at best and unintelligible at worst. The clearer your feedback, the better chance your copywriter will be able to execute it properly.

7- It’s an easy job. What’s your best price?

This is tantamount to saying, “can you give me a substandard job?” If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well, meaning it will take time – and as anyone that has written copy in the past will know, writing is one of the most time-consuming things you can do.

8- It’s only 100 words. You can knock it out in a jiffy

On the contrary, it is easier to write longer copy. The real skill lies in fitting all the relevant information you need to include into a shorter word count. Often it means editing, re-editing and re-editing until you reach the result.

Contrary to popular belief, word counts do not correlate with time. Word-for-word, you don’t pay less for developing a five-word marketing slogan that you do a 1000-word article. Very often, the slogan costs more as it can take longer to develop.

9- I’ve had a quote that’s a third of your price

Hopefully they’ll give you a similar quality of service, but don’t necessarily count on it.

That’s not to say that a more expensive copywriter will necessarily be good, but certainly be aware of a copywriter who charges bottom dollar. There might be a reason for it. As a rule of thumb, any worthwhile copywriter will have a portfolio of work they can show you.

10- Can you take all this copy we’ve stolen and put it in your own words?

First, it is wrong to steal. Second, it will not promote your own uniqueness as a company (see above). Third, it is often thought of as a way of getting a cheaper rate from your copywriter. In reality, it takes longer to paraphrase someone else’s copy to the extent it no longer constitutes plagiarism than to write from scratch.

THE BLACK AND WHITE GROUP provides specialist and tailored technical, corporate and marketing copywriting services, along with graphic design where required. If you need support on a bid proposal document, annual or sustainability report, website content, newsletter or corporate profile, contact us on +971-50-4575469, info@weareblackandwhite.com, or see our work on https://www.weareblackandwhite.com.

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