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The copywriter’s red flag all clients should know

A dilemma I stumbled on recently:

Should you as a copywriter ask clients for examples of copy (web or sales pages) they like?

And as a client, should you trust a copywriter who asks for it?

Well in the second case it all sounds pretty good doesn’t it? They want to align with your expectations, write something you will truly love…

But when it comes to web pages or any conversion focused asset… do you really need something you’ll love? Or do you need something that will sell?

Two different scenarios.

So I went to Twitter and asked other copywriters for their opinion and experiences. A couple of replies I got:

  • “Fun fact: I ask them for examples of good content/blogs they like when creating an editorial calendar.”
  • “I do as well. It’s a great way to Guage whether or not you’re aligned”
  • “I get your point, but yes. Some things are subjective, and if I can work them in without hurting things it builds their comfort. It’s also a chance to educate. Why should we be different?”
  • “I show them swipes I’ve curated as suggestions. Do you do this?”

Apparently it’s the thing you do as a copywriter. But first a premise…

…most of these guys are “content writers”. Which means they focus more on the education vs the sale. Higher up in the funnel, vs down below.

That’s a big difference and asking clients for examples of blog posts they like is a good idea, because it’s a lot about branding, voice and tone. All factors they probably have a good intuitive feel about.

But when it comes to sales and conversions?

In my opinion, you should ask, only if you can be specific and know what feedback you’re looking for.

It’s a matter of giving clients what they “want” vs what they “need”.

What they want might be one thing, but it might not necessarily be good for them. I want to eat double burgers and pizza all the time. But is it good for me?

You get the point.

I would ask clients for examples of a sales page or home or pricing page, only in a couple of cases:

  • When we need to decide on layout for the wireframes
  • When we already know the sales argument we’re making and the wording, but we want to match the overall “vibe” and “feel” of the page.
  • When it’s a competitor site (because they might have some insight into their strategy)

You can see that these are very specific and with each I know what kind of feedback I’m looking for.

After all as the copywriter you’re not there to just write words. You’re there to do a lot of the strategic work and to be your client’s trusted advisor. If something is against their interests you should avoid it.

Or at the very least, if you get into it, you should know how to interpret whatever they give you with your professional insight and outside perspective.

If you want to chat about how I can advise you on things like this, get in touch.

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