I'd love it if every business owner out there contacted me and requested my writing services for that next big marketing project on the boards. The only snag is, I'd have to turn down most of those requests -- and not necessarily due to my own creative bandwidth limitations. Believe me, I stuff my calendar like Uncle Bob at an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet whenever I can, even though my brain sometimes cries out for a brief fasting period. But many times I encounter prospects who simply aren't ready to become clients because they haven't yet arrived at the point where hiring a copywriter makes the best sense for their current needs and situation. So how can you tell if you're jumping the gun? Here are a couple of major indicators:
You don't have a budget in place.
It alarms me when I see clients paying me cash out their wallet or purse. Why? Because marketing payments should come out of a business's marketing budget, not somebody's grocery money. If you don't have an official marketing budget, you need to make one that fits into your overall business plan, just like any other corporate expense. Save your grocery money for groceries, and pay your business expenses with corporate funds. If you don't have any corporate funds, than your business problems most likely lie deeper than the marketing level.
You don't have a strategy in place.
Just as you need a marketing budget to fund any copywriting or other marketing expenses, you need a marketing strategy that dictates the most sensible way to spend that money. What are your long-term marketing goals for your brand? Which media channels can help you achieve those goals, and how should you use each of them in a way that strengthens your overall message? What is your Plan B if Plan A should spring a leak? These are questions for a marketing strategist, not a copywriter. If I get called in to write a press release and the client asks me, "What do you think we should say? Who should we write this for?" and so on, I gently steer them toward a marketing consultant who can help them figure those things out. Once you know how you'll market yourself, then you can figure out whether you need a copywriter's services.
If you're not whether you're ready to hire a copywriter -- just ask. Most experienced writers are astute and honest enough to point out any preliminary measures you may need to take first. I'm always happy to refer my prospective clients to other marketing experts who can lend a helping hand. And if you know you are ready to pull the trigger, I'm right over here holding up the big red target!