I’m going to let you into a secret: copywriting can be hard work. It means spending an unhealthy amount of time staring at blank Word documents. And rewriting the same sentence 100 times. It will lead to an unhealthy reliance on caffeine and, fairly frequently, it will give you a headache.
But it isn’t always like that. Sometimes you have clients who are a joy to write for, because you know and understand everything about them. You understand what they do, their target audience and what they stand for. There’s no need for blank staring and rewriting (well, almost!). You have everything you need to do your best and most effective work.
That’s why a good copywriting brief is so important. Because the more that a copywriter knows about your business, who you’re talking to and what your objectives are, the better their work will be. Having a comprehensive brief takes out the guesswork and ensures you’re both on the same page (no pun intended!). The result is copy that delivers for your audience, and your business
So, to save both you and your copywriter a headache, here’s your crash course on how to write a copywriting brief that will get results:
Even if it isn’t directly relevant for the project, the more background you can provide on your business the better. That includes details of your vision, mission, values and personality, as well as an overview of your products and services and what makes you different. If you have any market research – quantitative or qualitative – that can be really useful too. It all helps to give the context around the project and gets the creative juices flowing.
First things first, what do you want your copywriter to produce? Is it web copy, an email newsletter, a blog (if so, where will it appear?), copy for an advertisement, a report, sales or marketing materials. This bit should be pretty easy!
Give as much detail as possible about your audience, including likely age, gender, job role, location and other interests they may have. How well do they already know the brand – are they loyal customers or new prospects? And what are their concerns, barriers and what pushes their buttons relating to what you’re selling? Audience profiles are extremely useful, so include those if you have them.
What reaction are you hoping to get from your audience upon reading? What do you want them to think and feel about your brand? It’s useful to know at what point in the marketing or sales funnel the audience is likely to be reading the copy, as this influences the tone and style too.
Your copywriter is likely to have their own ideas, but try to give a bit of an overview of the key points you want to cover, or any particular angles you want to take. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, so if you have something in mind, say so. If you’re prepared to leave it up to your copywriter’s imagination and creativity, then let them know that. A quick brainstorm can be a useful step to chat through the different options and decide on the best approach together.
If you already have tone of voice guideline, great. However, it could be useful to give a bit of detail about where this particular project fits within those. For example, updating clients on important businesses or legal changes will need a more formal and professional tone than used on Twitter and Facebook, so bear that in mind. If you don’t have tone of voice guidelines, or you’re not sure whether you’re need them, take a look at our blog to find out what it’s all about.
Depending on the brief, allowing your copywriter to chat to one of your spokespeople or product managers can do wonders for bringing the concept to life. It gets the cogs in the brain whirring and sparks ideas much faster than staring at a blank screen – believe me! So, if it’s at all possible and your copywriter is up for it, a quick call will help them add that extra bit of magic to your copy.
What’s the one action that you want your audience to take based on the copy? It could be clicking through to a longer article or report, giving you a call, or visiting your website. Be clear what this is, so your copywriter can make sure it gets the necessary attention.
Include details on how the final copy will be designed up, as this helps give an idea of the overall ‘look and feel’, and ensures the copy fits with what’s required re formatting and spacing etc.
Also share any similar work you’ve done before, or any examples of work by other brands that has inspired you.
If it’s SEO copy, make sure you have these ready.
A rough idea of either word count, or number of paragraphs gives an idea of the style and workload involved. You might be flexible – a lot of clients are – and if you’re not sure, we can work this out together based on your other requirements.
As a freelancer, the deadline is actually one of the first pieces of information I want to know! My brain is constantly juggling numerous projects, prioritising and reprioritising on a daily basis. So, the more details you can share on your timescales the better.
It might seem like a lot of extra work, but creating a comprehensive brief is actually likely to save you time in the long run, by avoiding lots of redrafting down the line. It can also be a useful process for the internal team, to make sure all your content is well thought-through and that you’re investing your budget in the best possible way.
If you’ve got a copywriting brief to discuss, or even if you’re not entirely sure what you need, then I’m here to help. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a buzz on 020 8144 9229.