The Copywriter’s Checklist
In the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, hears a disembodied voice whisper, “If you build it, he will come.”
Whoops! From a marketer’s perspective, there’s a problem with that strategy.
Yes, you can build a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, BUT no one will come if they can’t find it. To get people there, your email, postcard, tweet or Facebook post needs to include the address, driving directions or map. Or at least a link to one of these. Small details, huge impact.
Successful marketing is all about small stuff that translates into big results. As writers, it’s our job to make sure these essentials are included in what we write. And no, you and I don’t intentionally overlook including details such as the time or address of an event, but it happens to all of us. We get so close to what we’re writing, we miss what’s missing.
That’s why a colleague has been pestering me for months to create this writer’s checklist. As part of her campaign, Jessica sent me a small stack of examples as proof of why a checklist covering the who-what-when-where-why-how of marketing messages was needed.
PLEASE NOTE: Not every item on this checklist will be relevant to every project you write, so apply them appropriately. Also, when writing for digital media, keep in mind you may have an international vs. local audience, which may affect the details you need to include. Anyway, so here it is: The Copywriter’s Checklist.
Who Is Involved
- Company name
- Sponsoring organization
- Contact person’s name and contact info (for lead generation or one-step sales)
- Speaker’s name (event, webinar)
- Speaker’s affiliation and/or credentials (event, webinar)
- Speaker’s relevance to audience and topic (event, webinar)
What Is Being Offered/Promoted
- Product, service, cause, event
- Discounts (early bird, member, quantity, etc.)
- Limited quantity
- Product info (sizes, care, fabrication, etc.)
- Relevance and/or value to audience (Never assume people know this.)
When Are the Key Dates and Times
- Date (event, webinar; verify for accuracy)
- Time, including specific time of day (a.m. vs. p.m.)
- Time zone (especially important for a non-local or international audience)
- Deadline date
- Expiration date
Where to Go
- Physical address
- Web address
- Email address
Why It’s Important/Valuable
- Answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”
- Benefits, not features
- Differentiation from the competition
- Call to action that’s easy to find, easy to use, offers value
How to Take Action
- Visit, call, click, email, mail in
- Toll-free number (customer service)
- International country calling codes (Check out countrycode.org)
- Driving directions or map
- Parking information
- QR and bar codes (verified as working)
- Links (verified as working)
- Unsubscribe link
- Subscribe link
- Forward to a friend
- Social follow buttons
- Social sharing buttons
- Unfamiliar acronyms spelled out
- Registration (®), trademark (™), copyright (©)
- P.S. (Not familiar with the power of the P.S.? Read this)
- Mailing postage permit (direct mail)
- Readable type fonts
- Limited copy centered line-for-line (hard to read)
- Scannable line and paragraph length
- Jargon appropriate for audience
- SEO keywords
- Subject line
- “From” line properly displayed
- Email preheader
- Use spell check or an app, such as Grammarly, grammarly.com
- Read what you’ve written aloud.
- Read one sentence at a time and look at each word in context. (Are you surprised that autocorrect isn’t always correct?)
- Read it backward. Start at the bottom right and look at individual words from right to left, checking for typos, spelling and grammar errors.
- Have someone else proofread what you’ve written.
What to Do If You Send Out a Blooper
- Create an oops! email, postcard or Facebook post to correct it. (People respect you when you admit you’re human and made a mistake.)
- Evaluate what’s at risk and react accordingly. An inconsequential spelling error in a one-off email probably isn’t worth sending out a correction. Leaving out the time, date or address of an event needs your attention.
- If you’re sending a series of marketing messages, make the correction in the next one that goes out.
As an early holiday gift from one writer to another, you can register to download a printable version of this copywriter’s checklist here.
And because the devil is always lurking in the details, here are a few more tips for improving results simply by paying attention to those devilish details.