by Daniel Salvi
A good Copywriter increases revenue, multiplies leads, and reduces marketing expenses. A bad copywriter ruins brands, drives customers away, and wastes budgets.
Distinguishing the former from the latter is fundamental, not easy. Here are 15 rules that I, Daniel Salvi, have discovered in over 7 years of experience in the direction of Advertising and Marketing projects, to choose only talented Copywriters (and become one of them).
How to choose the best Resumes:
1. Don’t look for big brands on the resume. Having worked for important companies is often not synonymous with quality: usually, they are people who had little or no freedom of action and - therefore - have never had the opportunity to innovate... and to make mistakes. A Copy who worked with unknown small and medium-sized companies is much more efficient. Don’t select people just because they come from important universities: talent is not obtained with a degree, but trained with real projects.
2. Copywriting is not writing well. Avoid writers, journalists, and poets: they are not good copywriters, because they know how to achieve only one of these results with words: Attract attention, Involve, Inform and Convince. Copywriters know and must do all four together.
3. One (only) example is worth a thousand words. There is no need to have dozens of examples on the portfolio: for a trained eye, it’s possible to immediately understand the value of a Copy. You can understand it from: • how he writes the titles and subtitles; • how he managed space on the page; • the obsessive care with which he makes the text not only interesting but easy to read; • the excellent typographic composition; • the attention to punctuation; • from the choice of effective words for the audience. In case you don’t have direct experience in Copywriting, a good copy is the one that: catches your attention, makes you read the headline, the sub-headline, and the paragraphs while making you feel intrigued or interested, not bored.
4. Let yourself be sold. Trying to hire a Copy means making sure that he sells themselves to you and convinces you to make the final call to action. Discard all the resumes that don’t have a sales letter. Then, discard all CVs without a clear call to action at the end. A good Copy must be one with Strategists and Art Directors. Look for any signs that demonstrate the Copy’s ability to lead or join creative teams.
5. Look for a “team builder” or a “team worker”.
A good Copy must be one with Strategists and Art Directors. Look for any signs that demonstrate the Copy’s ability to lead or join creative teams.
6. Look for direct marketing experts: David Ogilvy, one of the greatest advertisers in history, argued that no one should be in advertising without having experience in direct response marketing. He was right: only direct marketing teaches how to use words to sell and test variations to improve performance.
7. Go hunting for chameleons. Copies must embody the brands, their values, and their tone of voice. The best Copywriters are those who have experience in corporate communication, because they know how to persuade, even with an institutional language.
8. “T shape” is the password. Nowadays it’s essential that a Copy is aware of: • what good Art Direction looks like; • how to improve the SEO of a web page; • how to write for Social Media • how to fit into a Performance Marketing project. These people who have a vast horizontal experience, as well as the vertical one on Copy are called T-shaped and represent the best choices for companies. They know how to manage larger work areas with less time and resources.
9. Don’t be afraid of internal competition. Remember what Ogilvy used to say: “If each of us hires people smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarves; but if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we will become a company of giants”. A Copy with talent always makes everyone else grow and inspires them to give their best. You will never be blamed or fired for it.
10. Reward diversity, don’t fear the ego. Look for and favor candidates who demonstrate an uncommon spark of genius. The best Copywriters appear quirky, different, and have big egos. They are artists of communication.
How to choose the best candidates after the interview:
11. Feel the energy. Every collaboration is a human relationship. And between two people the spark can be triggered, or not. Have at least one person from the creative team in the meeting to get better feedback.
12. Listen to the Reason Why. The best Copywriters want to participate in Listen to candidates’ goals and select only those who want to create something truly relevant.
13. Ask for their role model. Ask candidates who are their role models and be wary of those who can’t name at least three: the best Copywriters are thirsty for knowledge and learn from the great masters of the past. They want to compete with the immortals, and they are constantly studying to overcome them.
14. Don’t do Price Shopping. All companies have a budget, but avoid discarding good candidates because they demand a higher salary than expected. It’s always possible to negotiate at a later stage. If you keep a list of cheap Copywriters, their Copy will be cheap too.
15. Always pay for Trial Assignments. The best Copywriters tend to reject free trials. If you need to do a test drive of your candidates, pay for what they produce. It’s certainly an investment, but the economic return will not be long in coming.
Why do these rules work?
These rules work because I have learned them in over 7 years of experience and have applied them in over 60 international Advertising, Marketing, and Communication projects I directed for: corporates, agencies, retail companies, software producers, e-commerce websites, training programs, and entertainment companies.
I learned a lot from the masters of the past, and from direct collaboration with the masters of the present.
And I learned even more about Copywriting, by teaching in universities, to promising interns, and by public speaking during marketing conferences.
If you’ve read this far, you may be considering adding our Copywriters to your list of candidates: we would be happy to meet you and your team.
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