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What Went Wrong with Your Marketing Copywriter

The problem: You don’t like the marketing copywriter you’ve hired to do some work and you still owe them money. If only you knew the warning signals, you’d have backed out earlier. I’m a copywriter, and I’ve had clients who were unhappy with my work. After dissecting those assignments (an unpleasant experience, let me tell you), I discovered a few commonalities. I’ll share them here with you so you can save yourself money and aggravation when you hire out your marketing to a copywriter.

The 1st Meeting Was a Brainstorming Meeting

When you hire a copywriter to help you with your marketing, you’ve got two things going on here: a writer and a plan. When you work with a copywriter, they will need to know specific details about the assignment. If you don’t have those set, then you’re setting yourself up for a large bill.

A copywriter’s expertise lies in creating words to say what you want them to say. A copywriter isn’t a marketing consultant, content strategist, graphics designer, business advisor, or HR professional. Some may certainly offer those services, but stay focussed on why you called this copywriter in the first place: you need a writer.

Follow-up Meetings Were Also Brainstorming Meetings

If you truly hired someone to write and not plan your marketing or content strategy, then you shouldn’t need follow-up meetings to brainstorm on the assignment. (You shouldn’t have to brainstorm at all, actually. Can you imagine the colossal mess at a newspaper if every editor had brainstorming sessions with every writer on every article?)

What you need to provide your marketing copywriter is a brief.

Copywriting Briefs Were Non-Existent

When I work with my regular clients, I don’t need a brief for every assignment, because I know most of what I need to know already aside from a few quick questions about the purpose, audience, and length of the copy.

However, in a new business relationship, this needs to be communicated. When a client wasn’t happy with my work, there was no brief. In some cases, none was provided even when I asked, and once I thought I’d understood enough from our brainstorming session that I didn’t need a formal one.

When you’re working with a new copywriter, you must put in the time to create a detailed marketing brief. On paper

What Should a Marketing Brief Contain?

There are variations, of course, but basically, provide your marketing copywriter with the following details:

  • Where the copy fits in your sales funnel
  • What you want the copy to accomplish
  • Your company’s mission, vision, and purpose
  • Style guide (if you have one)
  • Samples of writing you like
  • Samples of writing you don’t like
  • Location for this copy
  • Length of copy
  • Suggested research sources, if needed
  • Links to successful competitors
  • Persona description of the recipient of this copy
  • Timeline
  • Who else the copywriter will be working with
  • General overview of the process of working with you

Yes, this is a lot and it will take time for you to put it together. However, unless you have this thought through, chances are good you’re not going to like the copywriting your new copywriter will produce. By going through this exercise, you’ll get out of your mind what you’re looking for and put it in a form your marketing copywriter will understand.

Hiring a Copywriter for Marketing: Plan First, Then Call

Outsourcing your marketing needs can provide you with the help you need to get on with your business. However, it can also cause you worries and nightmares if you don’t find the right people to work with. A little prep work on your end, and you should have an easier time finding a marketing copywriter who can produce copy for you that you like and that works. Contact me if you have any questions: I’d be happy to answer them.


  1. Hi Lori,
    Just landed on your website from a link on PWAC email re the panel about blogging you’re on. I’m enjoying this experience—great site.

    I just wanted to let you know about a wonky sentence in your piece about why marketers or company owners might not like the copywriter they hired. In the section about what
    information clients should prepare
    for their copywriters. You wrote:

    … chances are good you’re not going to like the copywriting your new what the copywriter will produce.

    1. Hi, Lee. Thanks for dropping by and especially thanks for pointing out that error. I’ll fix it right away. Brain must have been on holidays during the final proofread 🙂

        1. 🙂 Thanks! As picky as I am with writing, I’m also the first to admit that errors happen. I appreciate when someone takes the time to point them out to me.

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