How to Help Your contract designer/copywriter
Have you ever been involved with a work project that completely fell off the rails? Maybe you saw it coming, like a slow-motion car wreck that you just couldn't prevent. Maybe it came as a total shock to you—one minute everything is chugging along, the next minute everything has disintegrated and you're standing amongst the rubble wondering how things went so terribly awry.
We know a thing or two about projects from hell, both from the client's perspective and as the service provider. Sometimes it just comes down to not being a good fit: the client's needs don't match the contractor's skills. Sometimes there are unrealistic expectations on either side of the work agreement. Sometimes, there is just not effective and open communication.
You can't do much about not being the right fit. If a client is looking for a design-forward product that engages Millenials, hiring a friend's mom is probably not the best choice. But, there are ways to avoid communication issues.
That's why we've come up with the brief list below. In a perfect world, your contractor would ask you these questions up front. But, sometimes projects are moving too quickly to stop and ask questions. Sometimes your contractors are too tired to remember to ask these questions. Sometimes they ask these questions and get responses back that don't quite encompass what you, the client, are really going for. Here are some things to be keeping in mind as you look for someone to help you with writing or design.
What words, tone of voice, color palette, etc. are important to your industry?
We all want to indicate that we are "in the know" in our particular field. We use specific language and visual cues to convey this, rather than simply stating "hey! Look at us! We know what we're doing!" For example, if you're a tech company and you're not talking about scrums and the Internet of Things, you might as well be selling Windows95.
Creatives probably don't know what those terms are. So be sure to let your contract copywriter know what keywords you need to touch on. Tone is critical too; some industries require stilted, formal language, while others won't take you seriously if you don't throw in "LOL" somewhere.
This all goes for design, too: if you're having a website designed and everyone in your industry has a scrolling image banner, make sure you point out that this is something you need to stay relevant.
If you have a style guide, now is the time to give it to your contractors, as well as any examples of what you're looking to achieve.
Words, colors, imagery that should not be used?
Similarly, if there are things that are too outdated, or perhaps your competition uses too much, let your contract creatives know. If your biggest competitor uses a light-blue color palette, make sure you state you don't want any light blue.
If you're a baker and you hate when people call your cakes "moist," make sure your writer knows this so your eyeballs don't scream when they hand you a paragraph about the gooey moistness of your baked goods.
How many people will be involved in the decision-making process?
Why is this important? Because the more cooks in the kitchen, the longer the soup takes. You will also always have a rogue reviewer who takes his/her comments straight to the writer or designer, rather than funneling feedback through one person. There will be disagreements about revisions. So before you send the creative off on a whole new draft, make sure they know how many people are weighing in. Let them know who their point person will be, so that if Bob in Accounting emails them directly, they know to check with their point person first. It will save time and money.
Everyone wants to save time and money, as well as be satisfied once the job is done. It won't take but a few minutes to get on the same page using these questions. Good luck!