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What Copywriters Want - And How To Keep Them Happy

By Expert Author: Philip Johnson

If you're paying a copywriter to do a job, you may not care about keeping them happy. On the other hand, if they are happy, they'll do a better job and work more efficiently, which will help keep the price down.
So how can you help your copywriter to produce excellent work - and keep them happy into the bargain?
Plan ahead
Try to build at least some time into the project for the writing.
The brief
Give your copywriter a good brief, and they'll be off to a flying start. Supply as much background material as you can. The brief which says "there's lots of information on our website" usually starts the alarm bells ringing. It's amazing how few people in business have really looked at their websites and analysed how little information is there.
You may not have much information, however, and you may employing a writer so that they can go and find it - perhaps by interviewing product managers or chief executives. That's fair enough. But there are still plenty of things you should try to include in the brief - or at least find answers if the writer queries them.
This should include a guide to your marketing positioning, your brand and so on. Who are your customers / clients? What makes them buy? What messages do you need to get across?
If possible, dig out product / service descriptions, reports, whatever you can find. Most copywriters like to get as much information as possible: they can sift through it, that's their job.
The other dreaded bugbear, however, is the PowerPoint presentation. These usually contain nothing. They might be useful in sales, because there's someone there talking over the slides. But for copywriters, they are usually next to useless.
The same goes for mission statements. Don't bother.
Ask people to respond
If the copywriter needs to talk to people in your company, but they never respond to phone calls or answer emails, things can get a bit frustrating. In fact, the job can stall.
Approvals
When you get the copy, remember to look at the bigger picture. Bear in mind that the copywriter is pitching this material for your customers and clients - not your sales force or managing director. The customers are the ones that really count. The language has to be what they will respond to. That's part of the reason to employ a copywriter - they understand this stuff.
The copy will usually need tweaking and refining. This is normal. Make sure the core messages are right first, before getting too engrossed in sentence structure. When it's time to give amends to the writer, try to make them co-ordinated. Ten conflicting set of track changes in a word-processor file will spoil anyone's day.
Give it back
One of the most common mistakes in marketing is to allow all-and-sundry to make last minute changes to the copy, without ever consulting the writer. Horrible sentences get shoved in regardless. The tone of voice is wrecked. All that care taken polishing the flow and creating a coherent sales message is wasted - because someone decides to cut and paste a sentence without even re-reading the piece as a whole. You've paid a writer - so if at all possible, get them to have a final read through.
Pay up
Like everyone else, copywriters like to get paid for their work. On time, if at all possible.
Keep the copywriter informed
If you really want to keep your copywriter happy, send them a copy of the finished product, if it's a brochure for example, or at least a little message that the website is live. Give praise where it's due. Give feedback, if that's more relevant.
Keep it coming
More work would be nice. Lots more lovely work.

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