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How to avoid marketing writers who can’t meet deadlines

Stop the madness! No matter how good your marketing writer is, if he or she can’t meet deadlines, your sanity is going to be seriously tested. Here are some of the best ways to identify and avoid hiring marketing writers who miss deadlines.

I am continually amazed…

By how many businesses call me with horror stories about their creative partners missing deadlines.

“My last copywriter totally flaked out on me.”

“My graphic designer is making me crazy. He can’t meet a deadline to save his life.”

“I never know when I’m going to hear from my web firm. They disappear for weeks at a time.”

You don’t have to settle for such poor service.

You can find talented creative professionals in Denver – marketing writers, graphic designers, and web firms – who will not only meet your deadlines, but they’ll also proactively manage your project, so you have one less thing to worry about.

What a concept!

Here’s the thing. You need to be able to identify them.

Choosing better talent starts with asking better questions

I rarely have prospective clients ask me about my project management skills. Yet, when I ask people what’s most important to them in a marketing writer, the ability to meet deadlines is usually the #1 or #2 answer.

If you want to stop wasting your time and money on creative partners who drop the ball and leave you in a bad spot, you need to be smart when you’re interviewing candidates for your creative projects.

You need to ask the right questions.

Interview questions you should be asking your creative partners

Feel free to use these questions during your selection process with marketing writers, graphic designers or web firms.

“Tell me how you manage a project. If we were to work together on this project, what could I expect from you?”

You want to find out, does your candidate have a process, and if yes, what is it?

This is your chance to explore, how does your candidate create schedules with his or her clients? How does your candidate keep clients informed about his or her progress?

If you get the sense that your candidate “wings it,” it may be time to focus on someone else.

“What type of tools do you use to manage a project?”

What you’re trying to find out is, how does your candidate stay organized? And − just as important − how does your candidate help everyone else stay organized?

You want to learn whether your candidate creates a schedule and/or a project plan. If your candidate has good project management skills, he or she likely does.

If you have a large project with a lot of people involved, does your candidate use any type of project management software? Project management software − such as Basecamp, Huddle or Zoho Projects − can be really helpful in keeping track of timelines, decisions, open issues, and files and documents.

“What is your track record meeting deadlines? Would you say that you meet 100% of your deadlines? 90? 75%? 50%?”

I can’t guarantee that you’ll get a truthful answer here. Nonetheless, you may be surprised at what you learn.

If your candidate doesn’t say 100%, ask him more about the times in which he’s missed deadlines. What were the circumstances?

An answer such as, “I just got busy,” should be a red flag to you. This may be an indication that your candidate doesn’t know how to manage multiple projects or plan ahead.

“If I were to speak with your current and past clients, what would they tell me about your project management skills?”

This question is known as a “pattern interrupt.”

Your candidate may be expecting you to ask, “How would you describe your project management skills?” But, your candidate probably isn’t expecting a question about how his or her clients would answer that question.

It requires a bit more thought – and hopefully, a more genuine answer.

“Can you give me an example of a time in which your client missed a deadline? How did you handle that with your client? How did that affect your schedule?”

Let’s face it. Emergencies happen, and occasionally, you may miss a deadline.

A good question to explore is, how does your candidate handle situations in which clients miss deadlines?

Your creative partner may assume that your entire schedule will move back to adjust to the missed deadline. Meanwhile, you may assume that your creative partner will just work faster to meet the original time frame…

Yikes, collision ahead!

The point is to discuss this issue upfront, so you share the same expectations and there are no timing surprises later.

One final tip: Fully disclose your desired end date

If you tell your creative partner that your goal is to have your website up “sometime in the first quarter,” but in your head, you’d really love to have your website up by February 15, share the date inside your head.

Your creative partner may be thinking March 31, while you’d like to finish a full six weeks ahead!

Be as specific as possible in your timing expectations, so your candidates can genuinely tell you whether or not they can meet your needs.

So what now?

Explore more on this topic: Need a writer? How to be a smarter consumer of creative services

Until next time!