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How To Hire A Copywriter: A Step-By-Step Guide

If you are considering hiring a copywriter to develop your marketing content this post may be the most important you ever read.

Let me explain…

I know there are others who try to explain the process of finding and choosing a copywriter, but they all miss what I believe is the most critical factor in determining if someone will help improve your marketing.

You will read about this factor in a minute.

If you have seen other opinions on this question, you will also see my take is somewhat different and I believe, more useful in selecting a writer who will pay off for your company.

I’ve boiled it down to three primary questions.

But before I get into the nitty-gritty, we should agree on the purpose of marketing.

I believe the purpose of marketing is to deliver business – it may be focused on getting new leads and customers, reactivating current customers or getting customers to spend more with you – but if it isn’t focused on getting results like these, I don’t really understand why anyone would spend money on marketing or advertising in the first place.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s jump in and choose a copywriter.

Here are some questions to ask:

1.) What Results Have You Achieved For Clients?

This is the critical factor I spoke of above. Yet, other articles don’t seem to consider this important enough to comment on.

I’ve put this at the top of the list for a reason:

As a business owner, what would I expect from my marketing? I would want it to grow my business! Simple.

A seasoned copywriter should be able to rattle off any number of specific gains made for clients.

I’m not talking about how many projects the writer has completed, I’m referring to concrete results.

For example:

X number of leads through this campaign. X dollars added to the bottom line with that campaign.

If a copywriter gets results for one client, he can probably get results for you too.

2.) Who Have You Learned From?

Similar to any other field, a good copywriter will study her craft. There is no reason to try to figure out everything on her own.

You should hear names like:

John Caples Claude Hopkins Eugene Schwartz David Ogilvy Gary Halbert Victor Schwab

There are too many to list here, but you want to hear the prospective writer is interested in learning from the greats. When you hear names like those above, you can also be certain the writer is focused on the right thing – results.

Conversely, if you hear something like:

I’m very creative or I’ve always loved writing and have a natural talent for it – beware.

My father is a physician. He’s seventy years old and still studies in his field every week. He has to in order to keep up with developments but also to refresh his memory about effective approaches to treating patients.

And it isn’t just doctors, it’s mechanics – pilots – executives – anyone at the top of their field studies to be better, to learn from those who came before and those blazing new trails.

But the dirty little secret is that many people in the advertising and marketing business seem to believe they are qualified based on the fact… they work in the advertising or marketing field!

3.) What Is Your Process?

Successful copy flows directly from the amount of preliminary work a writer puts in.

So, a process should include serious information gathering.

  • A list of pertinent questions about your product, service, business, market, competition.

  • An interview by phone or in person to follow-up.

  • Independent research.

  • Examination of past promotions and marketing materials.

  • Research into the competition.

All this should happen before a single word is put down.

If a writer takes the time to do due diligence, the chances of a successful marketing campaign skyrocket.

If she wings it, your campaign will probably fail.

The rest of the questions:

I’m going to run through a couple more questions, though if those above have been answered to your satisfaction, you probably have a good writer on your hands.

4.) Are There Any Projects You Don’t Do?

The answer will be very instructive.

If you hear, ‘I do everything’, I suggest you be very wary.

Here’s why:

There are naturally areas where we are less effective. If someone says they do it all, it could mean they are desperate for the work (which should tell you something) or they’re inexperienced and don’t realize that certain work isn’t their cup of tea.

The whole point is reducing your risk – you don’t want to run into problems mid-project when you realize the writer isn’t suited for the task or they realize they are in over their head.

Here’s my answer to that question:

I don’t handle any highly technical writing, don’t have the mind for it – I don’t write speeches, don’t have the knack – don’t write white papers, don’t enjoy it and if I don’t enjoy my work I’ll have a tough time delivering my best.

5.) Do You Have Experience In My Field?

Not as important as you might think. If the writer’s process includes a good discovery phase and he has the skill to produce results in other fields, he will have a good chance of producing for you as well.

If you interview a copywriter, the above guide should help you select someone who can help your business get new leads, clients and growth. When I’ve managed writers for corporate clients, these are the questions I ask, and they have worked very well in helping me find and choose some solid professionals – I think they can help you too.

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