So you've decided to hire a professional writer to help you with your marketing content. It's a no-brainer, right? Assuming you've taken the right steps to make sure you've got the right person, you're guaranteed to get whiz-bang copy that makes exactly the statement you wanted to make in exactly the way you wanted to make it. From this point forward, you can set yourself on cruise control and let the writer write. Right?
Well, not quite. No matter how much of the creative burden you offload to the writer, you still have an important task -- communicating what you need and want to your creative team. If your writer (or graphic artist, or web designer, et cetera) receives wrong or incomplete information about your mission statement, corporate values, target market or other things that make your business tick, you'll get marketing content that misses the mark. Effective communication with your writer will help ensure strong, effective copy just as effective communication with an architect helps ensure that your home ends up with the right number of bathrooms. "Hey, the house looks great now that it's built. By the way, did I mention we're a family of twelve?" Oops.
Some items you want to make sure you discuss with your writer include:
Priorities. Writers love background information, so by all means, pile it on. But at some point before the writing starts, make sure you've highlighted the talking points nearest and dearest to you. (A competent writer should ask you this right off the bat, but feel free to volunteer it.) What are the most important things your audience needs to come away with after viewing your marketing content? What must they do? How must they feel? What things about your business set you apart from your competitors? Once you've discussed these things with your writer, you can then throw an avalanche of white papers, web links or other data on his/her shoulders while resting assured that the big points will get the most "ink" in the final product.
Creative scope. Putting your writer on too long or short a creative leash will put a noose around your chances for getting the right final product. If you tell the writer, "You're the creative guy. Just come up with something," be prepared not to like what happens. The writing you get may sparkle and represent a high professional standard, but it may also cover the wrong topic or emphasize the wrong message. On the other hand, if you're mapping out every little point and sub-point down to individual phrases, you're really writing the piece yourself and using the writer as an editor. That's okay if it's the arrangement that you and the writer agreed on. But if you're paying somebody to create content and then spoon-feeding every word to them, then you're wasting time and money.
Direction. Many business owners and marketing directors bring on a new writer when they intend to make a drastic change in the direction of their marketing -- but what if you just want to continue what you've already started? That's great too. Like a session musician sitting in for a regular band member, a skilled writer can mimic a wide range of tones and styles, even while the presence of a new player adds a little jolt of fresh energy to the proceedings. Just make it very clear to the writer that it ain't broke so you don't want it fixed. Not a problem.
Talk to your freelance writer, and you'll get writing that speaks to your customers. And that's the most important communication of all.