Ever write copy for a Hail Mary Marketer?
He’s the time-pressed client who needs to score big with his marketing content—but he can’t tell you what he wants.
He thinks he knows—he asks for website content or collateral or direct mail.
But the truth? He doesn’t have the plays in place to win.
He can’t tell you about his customers—or share what’s in their heads and hearts.
He has no clue where the copy project fits into his sales cycle.
He hasn’t thought about obstacles your copy must overcome to convert. In fact he hasn’t thought about conversion at all.
Desperate to score, he throws a Hail Mary pass to you, his freelance copywriter. He’s praying you’ll make a marketing touchdown.
But when the play fails, guess who gets benched?
11 questions to ask the Hail Mary Marketer
Over-tasked and time-pressed as they are, many Hail Mary Marketers have good intentions. So give them the benefit of the doubt. Make sure you get the information you need to run the play—and write tight, customer-focused copy.
Ask your Hail Mary Marketer the following questions:
- Who are your customers? Demographics are important, but beyond age, gender, geography and income, what can you tell me about the people who buy your products? Have you created personas that transform customers into real human beings in your mind? Do you imagine your customers’ life stories? Do you know what they care about? What their secret hopes are? Their vanities and indulgences? Their insecurities, fears and vulnerabilities?
- Can you explain your product and how it’s unique? Tell me everything you know about your product and service line. Forward all existing product collateral, white papers and web links. Fill in gaps left by current content.
- What are your products’ features and benefits? How do your products address your customers’ human yearnings? Do your products genuinely solve problems and relieve pain points? How do they make your customers’ lives easier, more pleasurable, fun and exciting? Please, only real benefits—ways your product genuinely provides value—not “fake” benefits, attributes that benefit you.
- What are your conversion goals for this copy tool? What action do you want customers or donors to take after reading? Do you want them to buy something now? Sign up for your mailing list? Download a pdf? Click, call, write, tell a friend? Please be specific: The tighter your conversion goal, the better chance your customer will take action.
- What obstacles must my copy overcome to move customers to action? What holds your customer back from acting now? Can you identify obstacles in his path forward? They could be external obstacles—your order form is a hassle, your postage costs more than your product, your widget is beyond his budget. Or the obstacles could include internal challenges—a customer’s procrastination, mistrust or fear.
- Where will my copy fit into your sales cycle? At each stage of the sales cycle—from obliviousness to brand loyalty—your customer requires different support. Can you identify your customer’s place in the sales cycle—and how my copy helps him? Not sure? Take a look at this excellent visual analysis of sales processes/support materials, created by my fellow copywriter, Sean Lyden.
- What strategies, tactics and tools worked in the past? What media and message got you results? What failed? Why? Are you repeating the same old same old—even though it doesn’t work?
- Who are your competitors? Who else makes and markets products like yours? How do they position their offering to your customers? How do your competitors’ products stack up next to yours? How much market share do your competitors have? Be honest: Is their stuff better? Worse? Or pretty much the same in your customers’ eyes? How can you differentiate your product from your competitors’? Please don’t tell me it’s “better.” “Better” is not a point of differentiation.
- How will you follow through on your product’s promise? You ask for copy that makes promises to customers: Time-savings, convenience, life-enhancement, entertainment, fun. Can you deliver? Your promise is only as good as the resources that support it: your product, distribution, customer service, staff and company culture. Don’t ask for persuasive copy that makes promises you can’t keep.
- How will you integrate branding consistently across platforms? Do you have plans to include your domain name, logo, tagline and other branding elements on every piece of digital and print material you create? Are PPC ads, landing pages and internally linked pages consistently branded—with design, navigation, text and visuals—to help customers immediately orient themselves and move forward?
- How will you measure results? Do you have analytics set up on your site? URLs you can track? Discount or other code numbers? Response card? Dedicated response staff?
How to make game planning easy
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you work with a Hail Mary Marketer. To save time and hassle, draft a questionnaire that includes the questions above—and any other queries you need answered to write customer-centric copy.
Then when a Hail Mary Marketer throws the ball at you, toss him back the questionnaire. After he thinks through the plays, the two of you can create a game plan that helps both of you win.