When building a full-service in-house agency, the question of writing always comes into play. Although design has been the foundation of the creative services operation in its forms of print, interactive, video, and more, there comes a time when providing writing services becomes a topic. Perhaps you receive copy from your clients or maybe a marketing or public relations department colleague, but as your department has grown and perhaps become more responsible for branding in the company, requests for writing have arisen as well. Or maybe you already offer writing services, but there are still evolving questions about your offering. Below I've addressed some frequently asked questions by creative leaders as it relates to writing services.

Who should do the writing, a trained marketing writer or a sales person with in-depth product knowledge?

A trained marketing writer. Marketing and branding are to set the stage and prepare the customer for buying. The sales person is to close the sale. It goes back to specialization of roles. If the brand and marketing materials (ads, brochures, PPT presentations, videos) do their job, potential customers already think well of the company, know what the company does, and has a favorable impression of them, before contacting or being contacted by a sales person. Marketing and Branding is a lot more cost effective that spending months and sometimes years of sales people's time and proposal team's time and money educating one customer at a time explaining who you are and what you do.

What should be done when in-house clients decide to save money by doing their own writing?

Review it for editing (correct English & grammar), company branding and messaging before it goes out. EVERYONE needs to sing from the same song sheet and ALL promotional material, proposals for contracts, sales people, need the same brand messaging and benefit highlighting. Everyone doing their own thing will dilute the messaging, drop sales and confuse the customer. At CSC, the President of the Federal Sector with 20,000 employees of the 90,000 worldwide & 60% of the overall sales, required that all external-facing material had to go through my former group. Because we were chargeback, we had timely turnarounds, and clients didn't have to get their drafts in 2 weeks prior, just a few days prior which took away a potential argument of detractors. We did, however, set turnaround times & costs for light editing & full editing. Your Editorial Manager should determine the level of editing required for the Company's best good, not the client--because clients always think their writing is great!

What are the key differences between editorial writing and marketing writing that's promotional in nature?

These are two different skill sets, which do not reside in the same person. Editorial writing is journalism. It is writing articles like those that appear in the local papers, e.g., The Washington Post, The New York Times. It features complete sentences and has a "pyramid structure" of the point first, then expanding to the details. Editorial writing is also used for homepage feature stories.

Marketing writing is presenting information--mostly service and/or product benefit information--in a way that makes customers want to buy, get further information or talk with a sales person. The structure here is to use short headlines (3-5 words) that encapsulate a memorable phrase of the most compelling customer benefit that positions that brand, service, or product in a person's mind. (Many will always think of "Plop, Plop Fizz Fizz" as Alka Seltzer). Marketing writing is usually in sentence fragments, is short, and only highlights customer benefits, with a STRONG call-to-action. It does NOT tell every product feature or tell the whole story! Its purpose is to buy and persuade, not inform.

Clarifying some of these common questions can help streamline your writing services, encourage clients to use these services and help strengthen your company's brand. As writing develops and becomes a standard in your communications tools and offerings, clients will come to you routinely to provide total solutions to their business challenges.

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Cella Consultant Susan Hunnicutt is an expert in using marketing and communications to achieve business objectives. She works with organizational leaders to assess their needs, determine their goals, analyze their resources and develop an action plan and recommendations to meet these goals. Susan's value proposition is taking a growing in-house creative team "to the next level," not only in metrics but also in systems and processes, quality control and increasing the number of high-profile and quality client projects.