14 questions copywriters must ask their clients

Election Interrogation

Being a freelance copywriter isn’t just about writing. Words are the tool that copywriters use to achieve results, but every smart copywriter understands that their real function is to quickly and accurately deliver a business proposition.

Before you can write about a business, you have to get the business. You have to understand what a business does and what’s important to their customers. You have to get down to the details, and prepare to write on behalf of a business.

Here are 14 key questions that copywriters should ask their clients, in order to get the information required to write great copy:

  • Why do your customers choose you?
  • What aspects of your business are you most proud of?
  • Why did you start this business?
  • What questions do new customers frequently ask?
  • What features do your customers look for in your products?
  • What benefits do your customers get from your products?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What are your customers primarily interested in?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What is the typical process you go through with a customer?
  • Can I talk to your customers?
  • Can I have a tour of your factory or a chat with an operative? (to get a bird’s eye view of the business)
  • What tone is appropriate for your copy?
  • Why did you pick me? (this one is a useful insight into your own marketing)

    Now this seems obvious to me, but I’ve rescued a few clients from the clutches of copywriters who have asked no questions at all, and then produced irrelevant and totally inappropriate copy.

    So it’s important to ask questions, but also to ask insightful questions that provoke useful answers.

    Comments

    1. Really useful – just what I was looking for! Thankyou 🙂

      Comment by Lucy — December 5, 2011 @ 11:19 am

    2. This is really useful – thanks for sharing. I’d love to know how you recommend presenting these questions to the client – an email so they ponder over it? During a phone call? Thanks!

      Comment by Lorna — December 6, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    3. Hi Lorna,

      I prefer to ask clients these questions – either in person or over the phone. That way I can respond to things they say, and ask other questions that arise.

      Face-to-face meetings with clients are massively useful for a copywriter, and are certainly to be encouraged. They give you so many chances to learn about your client, and ultimately that’s what a copywriter must do before writing.

      Of course, the list of questions I provided above are just a starting point. Different projects demand different questions – and there may be things that you happen to be curious about. So feel free to go off-piste, as it were.

      Comment by Leif Kendall — December 6, 2011 @ 11:53 am

    4. […] a bit like being a detective, or perhaps an interrogator. You have to ask questions and they have to be the right questions. […]

      Pingback by Website copy - one of my favourite things - TAITHTAITH — October 23, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

    5. In my humble but accurate opinion, before anything else, you need to understand the client’s objective.
      Understand where they are now.
      Understand where they want to be.
      Get a clear view on what success looks like.
      What their expectations are of working with you.

      Secondly you’ll need to understand the target market – You should be able to write most of the ad without knowing anything about the product.

      Finally, you need to understand the product (and the brand) and particularly how it solves the target markets problems.

      Comment by saed — March 23, 2016 @ 10:01 am

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