Suppose you made the decision to increase your sales by hiring a copywriter. Generally, what comes next is a long discussion of exactly what you need. This includes, your audience, your product, and other things that are relevant.

To streamline the process, many copywriters use intake surveys. These allow the client to answer a list of questions, and save time.

Here is a Google document which I use. I don’t remember exactly where I got it, but it serves all the purposes that I need.

Just click here, and it’ll open in a new tab. (Note this version isn’t editable, given that it’s for public access.)

So let’s go over it point by point.

The background.

This is so I know exactly what you’ve done so far. Your product, your results so far in engaging your audience, and your budget.

This is crucial because it gives me a very strong idea of the approaches that might or might not be viable.

The product and/ or service.

Knowing the product or service in detail, is  of paramount importance. To bring out all the relevant benefits that it might have for your clients, I need to know it.

It also helps me streamline the copy, and compare it to your competitors. This creates an advantage over them by exploring areas which they haven’t. And gives your clients certainty by delivering a precise explanation of what they get.

Your audience.

Knowing your target market is one of the most important things that you can have for copy.

Their background, motivations, attitudes, the particular circumstances of their lives. All those things help fit the product you’re offering into their daily lives. As a solution to their problems, pain-points, or as a commodity that’ll make their lives better.

Your offer.

Putting together the product and the audience, so the only natural step for them to take next is to buy. To do that, I need to know the details of what you currently offer. What we need them to know and feel, and how this fits together into a coherent plan.

Your offer, simplified to its core… should sound something like this: “For X amount of money, you will get X, Y and Z.”

This is the most simple way in which you can frame your offer. Notice that what you want to be selling here is outcomes, rather than features. “Get rid of pain”, “save money by quitting cigarettes”, “spend time with your kids instead of doing paperwork”.

The action.

What do you want them to do? Does it make sense? What’s your funnel? Do you want to give them the option to buy the entire package straight up? Do you want them to only get a demonstration first?

This is important because it relates to your sales process, and the way you communicate with your customers. For example, if you wish to make sure that your clients are completely happy with the product that they get… it’s completely reasonable to have them go through a sales funnel.  This’ll warm them up to buying, and create a meaningful relationship with your company at the same time.

On the other hand, suppose you are selling a book or an info product, for about $50. There is little value to be had from warming your prospects up. $50 isn’t an amount of money that warrants such care. Unless, of course, you’re aiming at upselling. Of course, opinions differ, but that’s the purpose of covering all this beforehand.

Reasons for action.

This is self-explanatory. But again, this relies on outcomes rather than features by themselves. While saving five minutes a day is a benefit, saving five minutes a day to spend more time with your kids has a much different impact on the reader.

Creative requirements.

The copy has to comply with your brand, your messaging, and the way that you present yourself. Thus, a brand standards manual is useful, to define the ways in which your copy will fit into your brand.

Other relevant materials.

This includes research, testimonials, sales material etc. You want anything which will support the copy. Materials which will be used in the final content, such as images, links to videos, case studies, and others.

Once you have all that,  all that remains is figuring out the angle from which you are going to approach writing the copy, and actually writing it.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what exactly copywriting entails, and just how much work goes into it.

Phil Daniels

PS. You can make a copy of the intake survey by clicking on File -> Download As.