No two copywriters are the same. So how do you know you’re getting the best writer for the job? Unless you know what to look for, choosing your copywriter can be a bit of a lottery.
The truth is, copywriters range from the great to the not-so-great. Just like any other profession, there are high flyers, under-achievers, rogue traders and young pretenders. And even if you bag a top banana for your project, who’s to say they’ll gel with you? Or your product? Your style? Your chosen media?
The answer, of course, is research. Knowing what you want and sniffing it out is wiser than saying yes to the first person with a ready typing finger. But remember, a copywriter is someone who can – and should – do more than write. Their greatest asset is curiosity.
Copywriters want to know the ins and outs of every little thing. They’re fascinated by human nature, knowing how to capitalise on motivations and get inside the consumer’s head. A good copywriter will research your market inside out, then look at you critically through your customer’s eyes. It’s their curiosity – not their way with words – that finally helps them see your business in a whole new light.
Whatever your project, this is the first quality to look for in your copywriter. Curiosity is the key to persuasion. And persuasion is the only reason copywriters exist in the first place!
So, your copywriter needs a way with words – fairly obvious! And they have to tick the curiosity box. But you still need to whittle down the field and find the one you can spark off.
Try asking yourself a few of these questions when you’re weighing up a candidate:
Who’s doing the talking? Are they listening to you or talking about themselves?
How quickly have they grasped your business? Not just your products, but also your marketplace?
Can they write passionately? About anything? Even the dullest product? If they get you excited about sprocket valves, hire them on the spot!
Have they worked in your industry and chosen media? If not, does their other work show they have a grip on your marketplace?
When you’ve chosen a suitable copywriter, you’ll know you’ve made the right choice when you start offering feedback. Professional copywriters thrive on constructive criticism – it’s a surefire way of knowing they’re heading in the right direction. That doesn’t mean they’ll roll over and accept any changes you make, but they will keep an open mind and listen to every point of view.
When you offer feedback, however, you should see it as a two-way street. You may have to let go of some of your preconceptions. Great copywriters can realise why your current marketing isn’t working, and won’t shirk from telling you. They’ll be cruel to be kind.
But for now, these small measures should protect you against hiring the wrong person. Of course there’s no guarantee – creativity by its very nature demands that element of uncertainty.
But if hiring a copywriter really is a lottery, you should be pretty close to scooping five numbers plus the bonus ball…