The first step in working with a new client is collecting the right information.
Gathering information about a client’s company, content preferences, and goals prior to beginning a project is the key to a success. It sets standards and expectations and opens up a dialogue about specifics that could be otherwise overlooked.
Always ask your client to answer the following questions as the first step in the production process. Save yourself time by downloading our free Copy Questionnaire that you can send directly to clients. Then review the answers to these questions with your client so you can be sure that you are starting off the project on the same page.
Questions for Your Content Questionnaire
1. On what website will this content reside?
2. What is the site’s main focus and purpose?
3. How many posts do you need per month?
4. How many words are you expecting per post?
(Word count should be an estimate. If the client says they want 650 words, that doesn’t mean to stop writing at 650 exactly. Talk to your client about their flexibility on word count and make sure they know you will likely write -50/+100 words around their desired word count.)
5. What is the main purpose of your copy campaign?
– Attract Attention
– Generate Sales
– Generate Traffic
– Attract Links
(It isn’t always easy for a client to articulate their goals. Many clients will assume that it is enough to say that they want content that attracts attention, increases SEO value, or something equally vague. But since it is important to be able to accurately identify what the client really wants, discuss their goals in more detail to discover what they really want to accomplish. Then refer to the CopyPress Brainstorming Guide to find out how to shape the content based on those goals.)
6. What emotion do you want your audience to feel?
7. What tone best fits your content?
8. Describe your target audience?
(Once you identify the target audience, go explore the world that they live in. Look at other places where they spend time online. Pay close attention to what kind of content they engage with and share. And ask yourself, “What can I create that will help them or make their life better?”)
9. What does your website/company provide to your audience?
10. Please provide links to two of your competitors?
11. Provide any topics you have in mind.
(Ask the client if their ideas are set in stone or just starting off points for your own creativity and concepts, and whether or not you need to have your ideas cleared with them before you begin writing. If you are responsible for coming up with ideas for the content, check out this infographic on How to Create Content Ideas for a New Client.)
12. Provide any topics or themes we should avoid.
13. Do you have any specific preferences for linking, formatting, and headline creation?
(Inbound and outbound links add value to content so make sure you discuss linking preferences with your client. Do they want inbound and outbound links? How many? Are there specific sites/pages they want to link to? Specific sites/pages they don’t?)
14. Please provide two links that exemplify the type of content you prefer and why.
15. Please provide any additional requirements or instructions you have.
Remember questionnaires are just the beginning of the production process. Use them to gather initial information then discuss each question with your client to be sure that you have the same interpretation of the answers. Only then can you begin writing and meeting (and likely exceeding) client expectations.