5 Questions to Kick Off a Project

TAKE THESE. I’ve written a lot of copy through the years–as a freelancer, an ad agency copywriter and a copywriter in the marketing department of a major newspaper. Following are some of my free tips for successful copywriting.

When I have a meeting or telecon with a new client and/or about a new project, I often use the following five questions to get the conversation started and make sure I cover the basics.

In fact, I’ve had these questions jotted down on a Post-It note and stuck to the inside of my notebook. That way, I’m mostly ready even if I’m caught off guard or feel unprepared.

1. What is the piece?
Website, ad, article, mailer, press release and so on. This dictates format, communication style and other things.

2. What is the subject?
What do you need to cover? Topics,  information,  key points.

3. Who is the audience?
This is critical. It could be a primary audience and secondary audiences. This helps determine language, tone, benefits, call to action and more.

4. What is the purpose?
Every piece of communication should have a goal or two. Are you trying to get leads, make sales, inform, educate, entertain?

5. How will the piece be used?
Sometimes this is self-explanatory. A website, for example. Conversely, the piece might be a small brochure or rack card that can be used in a variety of situations.

Ask these five questions and you’ll learn what you need to know to start a copywriting project.


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