What Copywriters Should Ask Clients before Writing Content “…Just One More Thing”

The increasing importance placed on relevant, original, and interesting content has website owners scrambling to create it or searching for someone to create it for them. If you are a copywriter, this is definitely good news. But before you take on your role as a writer, you must first channel your inner Columbo. Ask questions like a detective and talk to your client about their industry and their company, ask them about their audience. There are a myriad of questions to ask to help you better understand the client and their niche so you can write content that reflects their vision and is useful to their customers. The creation of this kind of content will help to further their SEO and internet marketing efforts.  The Search Engines are putting increasingly more emphasis on great content in how they rank web pages.  So, asking great questions and learning as much as you can about the client’s subject matter is essential towards developing great content.

Here are some key objectives and questions to help you Columbo your way to some really great content that meets important content creation standards and makes your client glad they found you and your company. So skip the cigar, dig your notebook from that grimy trench coat, take some notes and be sure to ask them “just one more thing…”

Define the Client:

Before you can put a pen to paper or press those fingertips to keys, you must genuinely understand your client. The production of content is not about writing as much as you can about anything, but rather generating content that portrays your client accurately and as an authority in their niche while offering value to their audience.

Focus on whom you are writing for. Get to know them and their company. Call them on the phone or set up a time to have lunch and discuss their business. Hearing their tone of voice or seeing the passion in their face will highlight what is truly important to them – and what you should focus on.

Not only will this kind of interaction give you the information necessary to write some really stellar, focused stuff, but it will make your client feel like you really care about them and their business.

Start by asking:

  • What industry are they in? What is their niche?
  • Where are they located?
  • Are they a local, national or international business?
  • What do they refer to themselves as? For example, you don’t want to be calling them a janitorial service if they prefer the term custodial.
  • How do they want to portray themselves? What is their mission?
  • What are five descriptive words that define their core value?
  • Who are their major competitors?
  • What makes them different? What is their unique selling proposition?

Asking these questions will not only give you insight into your client and their business but you may even help them further define themselves and their goals.  Additonal important questions will also surface as you carefully listen to the responses.

Define the Audience:

Once you understand your client and their place in the industry, you, my gumshoe friend, must also unearth as much information as possible about their audience. This way you will not only be writing content that accurately reflects your client, but content that is useful to the people they most want to attract.

  • Who is your client’s target audience and how much can your client tell you about them?
  • Are they a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) company?
  • What are the most FAQs they get from customers?
  • What are the problems their audience has most often? How do you uniquely solve those problems?  What questions would they like answered about products, services or other niche-related topics?
  • How does the client’s product or service fulfill the audience’s need?
  • Has the client done any market research on them? If so, can they share their results with you?
  • Ask for any additional information – brochures, pamphlets, websites, social media sites, case studies, testimonials, surveys, existing content that has been published online, videos podcasts. Be sure look at online reviews to further understand what it is their audience needs.

Every investigator knows that research is paramount to gathering accurate information. Discussing this with your client and doing some thorough keyword research will help you target issues relevant to their audience.

Providing your client’s clients the answers to their questions, the solutions to their problems or the remedy to their boredom is the most effective way to generate ideas for content and keep your client impressed with your ability to attract leads and conversions.

Define the Schedule:

Just as a good detective pinpoints the whereabouts and activities of their suspects, you must do the same for your content. Once you know everything you possibly can about your client, their niche and their audience, you can then choose a pace that suits their purpose. (The answers to these questions are generally determined before a company becomes a client, but it is still something that relies on an understanding of their industry, niche, company and audience).

  • What is an appropriate pace for the production and implementation of articles per month based on the competitiveness of their niche?
  • What type of articles should they be – regular (500+ words) or power (1000+ words)?
  • There is no such thing as too much content when it comes to internet marketing.  Ask if the client has enough material to create an effective eBook.
  • Are there any recent newsworthy events about the company that should be promoted online through the Press?
  • What other kinds of content do they need? Blog posts? White pages? Articles? New landing pages? The revision of content they hate? Press Releases? Positive content that will be used to push negatives into the back of SERPs? The industry, niche, purpose and demand for information will determine the pace you should set.

Determine How Material Will Be Edited and Approved:

Sometimes a detective has only one suspect, sometimes he has several and must figure out how they worked together. You may encounter this same circumstance when it comes to editing and approving your articles. Knowing how many people are involved and who has what role will make sure that the editing and approval process flows as smoothly and quickly as possible.

  • Who writes the material? In this case it is you or I, but there are some clients that prefer to write their own content.
  • Who edits the content?
  • What is the approval process?
  • How many people are involved?
  • Who gives final approval?

Choose an Appropriate Tone and Style

Detectives have superiors who expect their reports to sound a certain way – it is imperative to court cases, maintaining integrity and a variety of other matters. Even the language that they use is different from other industries. You, too, must write in a way that suits the client, their niche and audience.

  • Your client’s niche, audience and the site that the content will be published on should guide you in choosing a tone and style for the work.
  • Understand the language the industry uses to discuss their products or services. If you are writing for a company that owns inns across the country, you will want to use the language of the hospitality industry and be flowery. However, if you are writing for a company that sells machinery parts, flowery descriptions of their merchandise might work against them. Be as technical or descriptive as their niche requires.
  • Don’t write above or below the level of the company or their clients. Make sure you use terms that the average person can understand. Don’t use this as an opportunity to showcase your vocabulary.
  • Determine how technical or conversational your tone should be based on the industry and intended audience. A company selling organic baby supplies to busy moms will be much more conversational than a law firm discussing different cases and services.
  • Format text to make the material easy for people to peruse. People generally look for bold subtitles, bullet points, a numbered list, or some other way to see what information it contains before investing their time in it.
  • Check out Jani Seneviratne’s article for more tips on how to write effectively.

Channel Your Inner (Insert Favorite Detective Here)!

Hopefully you now understand what goes into the creation of ROI content. Do some investigating into your client’s industry, company and audience by speaking with them to determine how to approach the creation of content for their websites. This, coupled with other SEO content creation processes, such as keyword research, will ensure that your content is relevant, original and interesting!

To speak with an internet marketing firm with a knack for this kind of investigating and who isn’t afraid to ask “Just one more thing…” contact Optimum7 today!