As a copywriter, understanding your client’s needs and their business can be a lot harder than it seems. For example, some (most) clients don’t know how to communicate their needs or explain their business to someone outside of their industry.
Miscommunication, or lack thereof, is something you — a communicator — can easily resolve. The next time you have a discovery meeting with a client or send them a form to fill out in advance, make sure to include these 3 questions:
1. If your target audience was a single person, how would you describe them?
Asking your client who their target audience seems rather obvious, but I have found it helpful to ask my clients how they would describe their audience if it was one person.
If they don’t understand, tell them to think of it as when you first meet someone, what questions do you ask to get to know them? Where are you from? What do you do for work? Tell me about your family. What are your hobbies/interests? And the list goes on. Have your client answer these questions for their audience.
The more you can get to know your client’s target audience the better you will be able to research that audience and deliver copy that will resonate with them. If the target audience is other businesses, you know you can use industry terminology. If not, then it is always best to write messaging that reads at the average national reading level (around 6th grade). Sounding smart sounds appealing, but in reality, if people cannot understand your message from the first read, they aren’t going to read it again and they aren’t going to keep reading your other content.
2. Think about your brand, what adjectives would you use to describe it?
Through this question, you can get your client to open up about their brand and business. If they use words like “feminine, young, and fun” then you can ask what makes their brand “feminine, young, and fun?” This way they start describing aspects of their business that will be useful to you when writing their messaging content. You also now know what their copy should sound like.
With adjectives like “feminine, young, and fun” you know you can drop pop culture references and write like you are their best friend. If they use adjectives like “professional and caring” you know to create messaging that appeals to their audience’s struggles but remains a formal tone (i.e. not their best friend).
More often than not, you will run into a problem where your client describes their brand one way but wants their copy to sound a completely different way. This is when you as the expert need to tell your client that they won’t resonate with their audience if they don’t speak as their audience does. Don’t be afraid to pull your “I’m the professional card” because that is exactly why they hired you.
3. Who are your competitors? And what do you like or dislike about their website messaging?
Getting to know your client’s competition is a great way for you to view examples of website messaging in their industry and pick up on its terminology. If you can get your client to express what they like or dislike about their competition’s messaging then you have now also created a good list of do’s or do not’s in their messaging.
Often times you will run into a client that says it doesn’t have any competition, in those cases I find it best to ask them to list companies with messaging they really admire. If they can’t tell you, then that is when you assign them homework to find companies with messaging they like. Examples can be invaluable to you and are a fantastic way to visualize and actually read messaging your client will like.
With these 3 questions and their follow-ups, you should be able to better understand your client’s needs and desires for their website messaging and start creating copy they love — meaning better reviews and better business for you.