I learned a long time ago that the best way to consistently produce great work is to follow a process that is the same for every client and every job.
That’s why I follow a specific process with every client I work with and every project that I work on. It’s a process that may take a bit of time before we get started but pays off by helping me ensure that I deliver the results you need to achieve your business goals and objectives.
Step 1: Initial contact
Whether you are referred to me by a client or colleague, find me on the web or connect with me on LinkedIn or other social media, our first step will be for you to complete a brief survey that I will send to you. After that, we’ll schedule a conversation so that I can ask questions about your organization and goals. That conversation will give me the information I need to develop a plan, and can take place by telephone call, in person, or by Skype, Facetime or Google Hangouts. That conversation will also be your time to ask any questions of me that you need answered.
Step 2: Proposal/Scope of Work
After our initial meeting, I’ll go away for a few days and then deliver a scope of work document to you. The scope of work will cover:
- A list of work I will complete and items I will deliver to you as part of this project.
- A list of what I will need from you in order for me to make our project a success.
- A timeline that includes:
- My start date.
- Milestone delivery dates.
- Deadlines for you to complete what I need form you, such as providing information, reviewing copy, approvals, etc.
- Completion date.
- Cost estimate.
When you accept my proposal and return a signed copy, we’ll be ready to get started, I require a 50 percent deposit to block your spot on my schedule.
Step 3: Learning more
Though we’ve already had an introductory conversation, I’ll probably need more information I can get to work. It’s important that I learn as much as I can about your organization, products and services, your market and most important, you customers. Here are some of things I’ll need to know:
- Company information.
- How and why was your company founded?
- What was your company’s initial business and is it in the same business today?
- What is the company’s mission? Has the company’s mission and values changed since it was founded?
- What is the management structure of the company and who are the key decisions makers?
- What are your plans for the future of the company?
- How much empowerment do your employees have to make decisions that can keep your customers satisfied?
- Who within your company will have final approval for anything I write for you.
- The products and services you offer.
- A complete description of the products and services you offer.
- A description of how each product or service benefits your customers.
- What problems do your products or services solve for your customers?
- Are your customers actively looking for your products and/or services? Do they have a perceived need for your product or service or do you need to introduce them to a better way of working or running their businesses?
I will also want to look at your existing website, of you have one, read any documentation and review any resources you have on hand. I will read reviews of your product or service and go through any demos you provide to prospective customers. If possible, I will use your product or service to gain personal experience.
- Your competition.
- I’ll look at your competitors to see how they are positioning themselves and what they are doing to reach your prospective customers.
- I’ll learn as much as I can about their products and services to help determine how you are different and what sets you apart.
- I’ll read reviews of their products and services to better understand what their customers and prospects think of them.
- Your customers.
- I’ll want to know as much about your customers as I can, including:
- What they like most about your products and services.
- What problems do your products or services help them solve.
- Do they have any problems or concerns about your products or services?
- How do they interact with your website and your business?
- How did they find your business and what led them to choose your products or services?
- Whenever possible, I will want to interview your customers and conduct customer surveys.
- I’ll want to know as much about your customers as I can, including:
Step 4 – Let’s strategize
After the learning stops, our next step will be to review your organization’s market strategy if you already have one, or develop a strategy if you do not. That’s so we can both be sure that anything I write for you in on target and helps you reach your business goals. If you already have a strategic marketing plan, then its just a matter of reviewing it with you so that I fully understand it. If you do not have a strategic marketing plan, we can work together to develop one for your business.
Step 5: Now the writing begins
After the upfront work, research and strategy discussions are complete, it’s time for me to get to work and write.
But not so fast.
An outline comes first
Before I work on a word of copy, I’ll develop an outline that shows you what I plan to write. The outline will show you all the messages, benefits and features I plan to include. It will give you an idea of how the copy will be organized, what the headlines and subhead will be, what the calls to action will be and where they will occur in the copy. The outline will be our road map.
Before I write a word of copy, I’ll develop an outline that shows you what I plan to do. The outline will show you all the messages, benefits and features I plan to include. It will give you an idea of how the copy will be organized, what the headlines and subhead will be, what the calls to action will be and where they will occur in the copy. The outline will be our road map.
The outline is also your chance to let me know if I’ve missed the mark in any way. If there is something I did not understand correctly. Or if there have been any changes on your end that I don’t know about. Most important, I won;t move forward until you review and approve my outline.
The first draft
After you approve the outline, I’ll get started on the first draft.
Though I call it a first draft, the copy I deliver to you at this stage should be ready to use. It will be written according to the outline. It will contain the customers benefits and features we’ve identified in the prior steps. Finally, it will be in alignment with the marketing strategy we discussed.
I only call it a first draft because after I deliver it — through a telephone call, in person meeting or Skype meeting — you’ll get your opportunity to review the copy and make any edits or suggestions you may have. My initial estimates always include one round of revisions that do not deviate from the outline you approved earlier. If you want to make additional edits or change the scope of the project, there may be additional charges.
We can do the revisions live
I like to work in Google Docs. That means that if you want, we can get on a Skype meeting or a telephone call and work on revisions together, live in Google Docs.
Step 6: Final Delivery
When your revisions are complete, I will send you or your design and development team the final copy and any instructions there may be for implementations. That might include layout instructions, a list of suggested photos and illustrations, web page wireframes or any other mockups that can help show my visual thinking when I wrote the copy.