Over the years, I have sat down with hundreds of clients to discuss a new project. And over that time, I have learned several key questions that need to be asked and answered if the project is going to be successful.
If the client has the answers, the project has obviously been discussed and there is an investment being made already to its success.
If the client doesn’t have the answer – and this is most common – we just need to focus on getting the answers before we start investing time and money into writing something.
Here are the questions, in no particular order.
Who is the audience?
The more you can tell me about the target audience, the better.
If you have developed personas, please share, because the more I understand their wants, needs, expectations, perceptions as well as their buying process and selection criteria, the more I can create copy that is relevant, interesting and motivating.
How will this content/copy be used?
Is this a blog post? A product information sheet? A case study? Something else?
This can typically lead to some discussions about keywords, images, and more.
What is the objective? What is success?
When I know what you are evaluating the work on, I can focus on that objective and increase the odds for success. But if I am focused on the wrong objectives, the end result will likely miss the mark – and I don’t want that to happen.
What is the offer? Why will the audience view this offer as unique, valuable?
If the project is focused on generating leads or sales, we need a strong offer and I want to completely understand the unique value this offer delivers to the targeted audience.
And when I understand how the offer is unique and valuable to the audience, I can communicate that more clearly and convincingly to the audience.
What are the five keywords you would use to convey your business' values?
Communicating your corporate values to the audience is a highly effective way to grab the attention and interest of prospective customers and clients as well as to help remind existing customers and clients why they like you so much.
Who are your main competitors and how is your company different?
This information ties back into my earlier questions about what makes your business and offer unique and valuable and further helps me clearly communicate that in the end product.
What is the timeline for this project, including tasks, owners? What is your workflow process for reviews, approvals?
When do we start? When do we finish? Is that timeline going to require some of my time? All of my time?
The process for reviews and approvals can have a significant impact on workflow so the better I understand it, the more I can stay on schedule and avoid unknown pitfalls.
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Who are the other people I will be working with on this project?
Getting to know the team and their preferences for working together is another key step in staying on schedule and producing great work.
What are your expectations of my availability?
I recently had a conversation with a colleague about client expectations – he had a new client that was sending emails and texts at 3 AM and my colleague was less than thrilled.
Personally, I prefer addressing this upfront so there are no misunderstandings and the entire experience is pleasant – so discussing this upfront is key.
Can you provide me with samples of current content/writing that you like? And what writing style guide do you use?
Understanding what you like and are currently using provides me with added direction. And knowing your preferred writing style saves you time and energy in the review process.
As you can tell from this list, these questions can lead to others for further clarification – but it’s a good list to start with as you prepare to meet with a freelancer regarding a project.
If you don’t have all the answers, don’t worry. Most businesses don’t, and when I ask a question that my client can’t answer, we work together to figure out the options and select the best course of action.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or give me a call.