Preliminary Research Questionnaire

New clients need to fill out the following 25-step questionnaire and return to it to our office before work begins. Your answers will guide us in doing the best job possible for you. Your information will be kept strictly confidential. For more, see our privacy policy.

If you want, you can get a copy of this questionnaire by downloading it here (PDF format). If you want to type in your answers directly into the document, download it here (MS Word).

If we speak on the phone, you are required to use our conference line for the purposes of recording the conversation for reference. If not, you need to email or fax our office a summary of the conversation, listing any key points discussed and agreed to, as reminders. Trying to recall every phone call and every detail is often quite a challenge.

Important! Before you continue, you must read the following disclaimer. By answering the questions below, hiring (in writing or verbally) or sending a payment, you acknowledge and agree to the following:

Agreement, Terms, and Disclaimers

You, otherwise known as the client, as well as any of your representatives or assigns, agree to have read the following terms and disclaimers, to understand them and to abide by them. This agreement is in effect immediately and indefinitely, and supersedes all other agreements made, be it explicitly or implicitly.

This agreement refers to products sold, or services performed, or services promised to be performed, by or any of its representatives and assigns.

You must fill out this questionnaire, agree to it in full, and return it to our office. Failure to respond does not preclude the existence of this agreement. All clients, all projects and all services performed fall under these terms without exception or substitution.


Upon receipt of your answers to this questionnaire, will write your copy or critique it, as specified in your assignment. For copy writing or editing, you can accept the initial draft, or you can have us revise the copy as you have one revision available to you, at no charge, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the original draft.

In other words, you can accept the initial draft as is, or take thirty (30) days to read it over and suggest any edits. If edits are requested, and as long as changes are not made to the original assignment or its scope, one (1) revision will be made at no charge and a final draft will be submitted. Please allow one to two (1-2) weeks for any revisions.

If you make changes to the assignment or its scope, or if you need assistance (such as, but not limited to, consulting to help you establish a strategy for your copy or provide guidance), you will be billed a consulting fee at the going rate of $300 per hour.

*Please note that employs a team of select copywriters, researchers and editors that work with us on your copy. The Success Doctor team works closely with Michel Fortin. While team members do the initial groundwork, closely following Michel’s methodology, Michel reviews everything personally.


Unless you paid a 50% “rush service” surcharge for meeting a guaranteed turnaround or deadline — allow a minimum of two (2) weeks with your rush project — there are absolutely NO guarantees whatsoever to meet any timeframes. We’re not responsible for any delays beyond our control. If you purchased a rush service and unexpected delays outside our control occur, there are no refunds for such surcharges.


Deposits are non-negotiable, non-refundable, and non-transferable. However, if you cancel before work commences, a 50% “kill fee” will be applied to your account. But if you cancel after submitting your answers to the questionnaire or after work has begun, whichever comes first, a kill fee equal to your entire 100% deposit will be applied to your account. At such time, deposits will be forfeited and applied towards the kill fee.

If you fail to complete and return this questionnaire within thirty (30) days of making your deposit, your project will be considered abandoned and a 50% kill fee will be applied. If unforeseen circumstances are preventing you from complying within the given timeframe, let our office know within the first thirty (30) days and we will do our best to accommodate you.


Balances, if any, will be due immediately either following submission of the first draft if no revisions were requested, or after submission of the final draft if a revision was requested. At that point, work will be final and delivered. Unpaid balances will accrue an interest at a rate of 2% per month, including any legal or collection fees.

Any additional work on the same project, including additional copywriting, extra consulting work related to the project, or changes to the project’s original length or scope, will be billed at the going rate or $300 per hour, whichever is highest.


Once your account is paid in full, copyright of the completed work and any related concepts developed will be automatically transferred to you. Also, upon receipt of your full payment, the guarantee will take effect, where you are entitled, if you so choose, to a revision at no charge within the first thirty (30) days following submission of the initial draft, as stated in #1.


You acknowledge that we are entering into this agreement with you or your company, or with your representatives or assigns, as an independent contractor and not as an employee. As such,, its representatives or employees will not be considered an employee of your company or business with regard to any laws, such as (but not limited to) federal, state or local income tax withholding laws.


While we do our best to ensure accuracy, we are not a lawyers, doctors, or accountants. You are solely responsible to have the work reviewed by a competent legal, medical, or financial professional, and for any copyright, legal, patent or trademark protection registration. Unless agreed otherwise, any sensitive information, not disclosed to the public but disclosed by either party to each other, will remain confidential indefinitely.


If satisfied with our work, you will write a positive testimonial or reference letter once the work is completed. You also agree that, unless agreed otherwise, you grant the unlimited, non-exclusive right to use copies of your work, at our discretion, for promotional purposes or in any of our marketing efforts (such as, but not limited to, a screenshot and your link on our websites).

Please note! Notify us immediately if you do not agree with this clause. Any limitations or restrictions can cause a change in the fee structure. For example, there is a 100% surcharge for complete confidentiality of a ghostwritten project.


Although there are typically no expenses with most projects (unless agreed otherwise), you shall reimburse or advance for any and all reasonable direct, out-of-pocket expenses incurred (or to be incurred), and approved by you in advance, with respect to the performance of the services outlined in the assignment.

Expenses may include (but are not limited to) long distance phone calls, printing, postage, copying, storage, audio and/or video recording, design work, etc. You understand that you may be required to pay for these expenses upfront.


You agree that, its principals, and its representatives are under no obligation whatsoever to you, your company, your representatives, or your assigns. You also agree that we have not expressed any promises, warranties, or guarantees, either implied or stated, in accordance with our work. You agree to indemnify and hold us harmless from any claim resulting from work assigned to us, the publication of materials we have created, or the use of those materials, in any way.


You agree that is under no liability whatsoever to you, your company, your representatives or any of your assigns.

You also agree that you shall defend, indemnify, save and hold us completely harmless from any and all costs, losses, claims, demands and liabilities, including all reasonable attorney’s fees, as well as any liabilities asserted against, its representatives or any of its assigns, that may arise or result from any service offered, performed or agreed to be performed, or from any product or service sold by you, your company, your representatives, your partners, your affiliates, or your assigns, in any way.


The above agreement supersedes all other agreements, whether implied or stated, and is construed under the laws of the province of Ontario, Canada, and shall be governed by the laws of the province of Ontario, Canada.

Signed (Client)
Date Signed

You must FAX the above agreement to 1-888-513-WORK (9675) Ext. 0 before this project starts. Please do not fax your reply to the questionnaire, below. It’s best to email them to us.

Your Questionnaire

Your responses to this questionnaire will help us create the most effective results for your business. As well, it will help YOU to focus on exactly what you’d like to achieve. Not all of these questions may be directly applicable, but try to provide as many detailed answers as you can. At least, guide us in the right direction and try to be as specific as possible. Please ensure you save your answers in a separate document. Send your answers to this address.

Your Product Or Service

If we are polishing, critiquing, or rewriting copy that’s already written, and if it is published somewhere and publicly accessible, please guide us in the right direction. For example, if some of the answers appear online, refrain from just including a URL (website address). Tell us where this information can be found, exactly (or simply copy and paste it).

  • What are the specific results and/or benefits you provide the people who buy from you? Give us as many personal, tangible, and/or quantifiable results as possible.
  • Do have any testimonials? If you have some with results, quantifiable information, and full identification of the person giving it, please send them to us. The more specific the testimonial, the better it is. To guide you, here are some examples:
  • “After using [product] for [days or weeks], my sales rose by 147.9%!”
    — John Smith, ABC Corporation
  • “Your product is amazing! It only took less than [number of days or hours] to install and start using! Other similar products took weeks! Thank you!”
    — Jane Doe, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • “After learning your system, my website traffic exploded — one little change helped me to increase my traffic by as much as 12,511 hits per day. That’s a 500% increase in only 8 short days!”
    — John Hancock,
  • List two short key phrases that describe exactly what you offer, in 16 words or less. (This is about your product or service specifically, and not you, your business or your website.)
  • What’s your single, most marketable, unique, competitive edge? This is your essential Unique Selling Proposition (USP). In other words, what is unique about what you sell, or how you sell, package or deliver it? What do you offer that your competition doesn’t? And how do you describe the answers in one succinct, persuasive line?
  • Describe your product or service in detail.
  • List 6 features about your product or service that “jump out at you.” (A feature is a fact about your product or service, such as “stops spills,” “easy to use” or “made in California.” Features demonstrate how things are created, delivered and maintained. It’s what your product or service has, or how it works.)
  • List 6 enormous benefits your products or services give your customers. (A benefit is anything that will make life better, easier or more productive by using your product or service, or by using any of the features listed in the previous question. A benefit, in other words, is what a product, service or feature does for your customers.)
  • If you offer multiple products or services, which one is your “best of the best” (i.e., your most popular, profitable or marketable offering)? If you only offer just one product or service, then what one, single aspect, feature or benefit of your offering truly stands out? What one element truly defines your product’s existence and its purpose?
  • Tell us a story about you or your product — something unique, new, different, intriguing, or mysterious. What was the story behind the making of your product? How and why did you start selling it? What was the story behind your business, company or website?

Your Customer

  • Who is your target market? More specifically, who is (or who could be) your “perfect customer?” Give us a clear profile and description. Be specific. Supply as much detail as you can in this area, such as:
  • Demographics (i.e., age, gender, employment, income level, education level, etc). These are the physical qualities and characteristics of your target market.
  • Geographics (i.e., country, state, city, etc). These are the physical or virtual locations of where your target market lives, works, and buys your products.
  • Psychographics (i.e., interests, culture, lifestyle, hobbies, buying history, associations they belong to, etc). These are their psychological characteristics.
  • And technographics (i.e., how responsive or not they are to technology). For example, the customer owns PC; is a technology enthusiast or pessimist; reads emails and surfs the web [how often, how many hours/week]; uses the web for work, pleasure, or shopping; has bought online before [if so, what product and from where]; visits certain websites regularly [if so, what are they], etc).
  • List 6 unique and interesting facts you really want customers to know about you and the products or services you provide. It can be anything you want! Let loose, here. You may want to isolate, identify and expand on those facts that make your product the way it is, or that make it different from, or better than, the competition.
  • List at least 6 of the most commonly asked questions about your products or services, as well as the answers you give. Are there any questions you seem to keep answering regularly? What provokes them, or what do you think is not currently addressed (or addressed properly) in your copy, your website, your materials or your emails?
  • List at least 6 of the most common misconceptions about your offerings that your customers have. What are they mostly confused about? List things that people have some difficulty understanding, or those things that, even though you address them in your copy, people can’t seem to find them or grasp them properly.
  • What are the 3 specific things your target market seeks, wants to know about or looks for in your product or service? How do people find you? In other words, how do they learn about what you offer? Why are they seeking you out? As an example, under what keywords or key expressions do most people find your website? Why do they visit your website in the first place? What drove them initially to seek you out?
  • In what specific ways are you similar to your competition? Is it easy for your customer to confuse them with you? How? Why?
  • What is the main, primary purpose of your copy (describe only one)? Is it to get people to read? Subscribe? Join? Download? Buy? Call? Email? Fill out a form? Be specific here.

Your Business

Along with your answers to the following, we ask that you supply, if possible, any mission statements, media kits, press releases, prospectuses and all other relevant collateral materials. If you offer, for example, downloadable products, screenshots, samples, software or password-protected access to a product, provide these (or grant us temporary access) as they will help tremendously. We want to see what people see, hear what they hear, read what they read, do what they do. We want to experience being your customer.

  • In 30 words or less, give us an elevator speech. In other words, name your company, explain who you are and exactly what you do. An elevator speech is a brief, pithy and attention-grabbing introduction of you, your business and your product or service, as well as what it does, why it is unique or how better it is than the competition, that you would tell your prospect during a short “elevator ride.”
  • Describe the current process for making a sale and fulfilling the order. Include all terms, both technical and non-technical, available to your customers — including wholesale and retail customers, if any (and if different). Walk us through a purchase from beginning to end (such as from a visitor first hitting your site to receiving the product or service purchased). Is there any post-purchase follow-up?
  • Do you offer guarantees? Bonuses? Extras? Special offers? Or any other special treatments you give your customers? Do you have a promotion, tool or affiliate program in place to sell for you? Do you use “takeaway selling” by placing a limit on your offering, whether it’s a time-limited or quantity-bound offer, in order to add a certain element of scarcity and instill a sense of urgency into prospects?
  • What specific accomplishments, achievements, accreditations, certifications or affiliations do you possess? For example, are there any reviews of — or is (or was) there any coverage in the press about — you, your business or your offerings? Are you a member of a trade or professional organization, society or association? (If so, are they online or can you supply info about these organizations?)
  • What has been your biggest success story so far? What has been your biggest disappointment? It can be anything: sales, marketing, Internet, publicity, joint ventures, endorsements, clients, projects, results, fraud, academic degrees, funding, unique situations, seminars, honors, gifts, relationships, education, etc… You name it.

The Specifics

Answer the following as best you can, provided no changes are made to the original assignment. Add any additional information you may have that may help. Can we contact your partners, suppliers, or customers? Do you have any success stories? List them here.

  • What is currently your greatest priority need (e.g., adding life to your existing copy; editing and polishing it; reviewing and critiquing it; writing/rewriting it from scratch; designing or formatting your copy to increase response; organizing your ideas better; writing or editing related collateral materials, such as your newsletter, email campaign, web content, article, press release, editorial, prospectus, brochure, white paper, etc)?
  • What kind of results, in general and within reason, do you wish to achieve? Be reasonable, here — please don’t say, “I want to increase my conversion ratio to 100% because EVERYONE should be buying my product!”
  • Is this project a direct response message or salesletter? If so, what is its current conversion ratio (include ratio of leads, sales and referrals to readers, if possible)? If this project is on a website, what pages do you have and which ones do you need help with, such as: Home, FAQ, About Us, Contact Us, Order Page, Product Description, Affiliate or Newsletter Page, etc? Please list all relevant URLs.
  • Are there any websites, ads or sales letters (similar to what you want us to do for you) that you like and want us to emulate? Are there any that you DON’T like and want us to avoid? Do you have any competitors (or competing websites, even non-competing sites that cater to the same audience you do)? If so, list all relevant URLs and provide your thoughts and feelings with each one.
  • Finally, what goals would you most like to achieve with our assistance? If more than one, please prioritize them. Is this a rush job? What is the timeframe or deadline, if any (please note that a 50% surcharge is applicable to “rush jobs”)?

Your information will be kept confidential. We will review your answers, create a project folder online, and contact you with access to your project team. We respect your email privacy. Your email address won’t be placed on any mailing list or shared with anyone.

This project folder is a centralized location where you and your project team will be able to communication, collaborate, and answer any pertinent research questions we may have. It is private, and you will receive login information to access your folder.

Warning! If you are submitting a lot of information, please make sure you keep a copy, just in case so you won’t lose your content. If you have documents to submit, please wait until we create the project interface for you, where you can upload it online. If this is urgent, then please email it to Andy and Shawn Catsimanes, Directors of Copywriting Services.

(Please do not distribute or reprint this questionnaire without express, written permission.)

© 2017 The Success Doctor. Designed by Michel Fortin.