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Nine Copywriter Woes: Mistakes to Avoid With Your Copywriter

by Jennifer Smoldt  |  
January 18, 2016

Knowing what makes your copywriters tick—versus what ticks them off—can mean all the difference between a healthy work environment and a dysfunctional one.

Without even knowing it, you may be hindering project success and timelines.

In the nearly two decades that I've been writing copy, nine faux pas have remained constant despite the evolution of marketing; help yourself and your copywriter by steering clear of the following common blunders.

1. The Dreaded Incomplete Creative Brief

Fill it out—completely. We loathe incomplete and shoddy creative briefs. You want the job in the queue fast, but it's not going anywhere without detailed information. Sometimes we don't have the technical or product knowledge needed to write about your requested subject matter, so filling out a creative brief entirely and thoughtfully—as well as attaching product sheets, presentations, or other relevant background information—will aid in our understanding and speed up your project request.

2. No Time to Research

Rome wasn't built in a day. Your requested content may not be, either. Have you ever tried to write about something you know little about? Well, copywriters do it all the time. We know a little about a lot... because we have to. But, before we can write intelligently, especially product-focused copy (product sheets, whitepapers, case studies, presentations, etc.), we need to become an expert—which sometimes doesn't happen in a day.

3. Lack of Distinct Differentiators

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Jennifer Smoldt is a marketing consultant, copywriter, content strategist, and founder of Precision Marketing & Communications, where she helps companies discover and market their distinct differentiators.

LinkedIn: Jennifer Smoldt

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  • by Ravi Jay Mon Jan 18, 2016 via web

    Interesting article. One of the major woes just like any other technical job is micro-managing. In that who takes responsibility when the project goes astray. Seems like copywriting can be more like dictation at times.

  • by Lisa Pierson Mon Jan 18, 2016 via web


    Thanks so much for this article - I will have to share with some of my copywriting clients :) I especially appreciate #3.


  • by Peter Altschuler Mon Jan 18, 2016 via web

    Great copywriters are also great researchers, and their ability to learn subject matter quickly makes them invaluable (and helps them make up for many of the very real shortcomings - on the client side - that you cite). And the best among us can shift between what you segregate as "creative" and "corporate" which is not a very flattering distinction.

    Agency people tend to sneer at in-house corporate writers who, in turn, may feel that agency "creatives" sacrifice content for style. There's probably validity in both points of view. Yet competent copywriters, no matter where they work, can make the most complex information palatable (and even entertaining) for any reader... without sacrificing essential and often highly technical information. In terms of what's now called content marketing (a practice that's been an inextricable part of B2B marketing for a century), that "translation" skill, plus the ability to write for a wide range of readers, is invaluable.

    Of course, as you point out, clients are the ultimate arbiters. And, if they're not sensitive to the power of the written word to motivate and persuade, instead of just inform, they won't get what they need. They'll get what they deserve.

  • by Melanie Merrifield Mon Jan 18, 2016 via web

    Some of these hit tragically close to home! Thanks for a good overview of common writer woes. As I explained when once asked to write a brochure about software to run nuclear reactor plants, copywriters have to actually UNDERSTAND the subject matter. Designers get more of a free pass on that front. Nice article, Jen!

  • by Laurie Mon Jan 18, 2016 via web

    Really enjoyed this. I recall once being told -- quite condescendingly -- by a client that I should never have started a sentence with but, because "it's bad grammar." There was no convincing her otherwise after being put on the defensive like that. She wound up basically writing her own (bland) copy.

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