There is nothing more frustrating than expecting a certain outcome from a service you have paid for and getting a result that is far from your vision.
If you have hired a decorator to paint your bedroom a calming shade of blue and return to find that you have a stunning, but undesired green… well I imagine you will be very disappointed.
But what if you had not told the decorator that you wanted this certain shade of blue? Perhaps you had thought they would know…. thought you had told them?
Unless we provide clear directions when requesting services then it is difficult for the service provider to meet our expectations.
The same is true for when you use a copywriter.
In this post I cover why a good copywriting brief is needed for any project and what information your writer will need.
This information could take your content marketing from being good to getting results on a whole new level!
Initially, though, if you want more clarity about what a content writer and copywriter does – check out my earlier post first!
WHY A COPYWRITER NEEDS A DETAILED BRIEF
If you provide your copywriter with the right brief from the outset then it will ensure that the results are on target. Unfortunately, those of us who write for a living might be the best at what we do, but we have yet to develop mind reading skills.
Without a good brief from you frustrations can arise on both sides.
A copywriter’s job is to create the message you want to give your audience, getting the reader to act in the way you want them to after reading the content.
The more information you can provide your writer from day one the better. Including every small detail of what you want to tell the reader, who that reader is and what the intended outcome of the writing is; the more likely that you will get content that will nail your marketing!
Providing a good and thorough brief to your writer can be time consuming but longer term it could save you time, money and the all important ‘headache factor’.
A poor brief will result in writing that is far from your requirement and in the long run may take more time as more edits will be required. This extra time taken might also be more expensive for you if your writer charges you extra for more than two or three drafts.
The better you and your writer can communicate with one another, the better the relationship between you and the the results will be evidence of this.
A Briefing Questionnaire
Writers will often provide you with a ‘briefing questionnaire’ as part of their information gathering on a new project. These questionnaires are a great starting point but if you have information above and beyond the questions then ensure you relay it to the writer.
Be specific in every detail you provide…
Giving your writer the chance to ask questions and make suggestions at the briefing stage can also be beneficial.
This helps to ensure your writer is clear of what you expect of them but equally they may have great ideas that you had not thought of; suggestions that might take your initial vision higher still!
So if you are now convinced of the need for a good brief; what does a writer need to know in the brief you set?
10 Key Elements To Include In A Copywriting Brief:
1. PROJECT DETAILS…
Provide as much detail as you can…
What is the project? What information is to be included within it?
What format is the content to be used for… Website? Report? Blog post?
How many words / pages are you expecting..?
Is this going to be completely new content or a reworking of old content?
2. CONTEXT OF THE WORK
You might not think it is relevant but it is helpful to your writer to know what the context of the project is.
Ensure your writer has insight into how this project fits into your wider marketing strategy or other communications. This understanding will help the writer target their work around your wider organisation.
3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
Make it clear to the writer you are working with what the purpose of the content is.
What is the intended outcome of this project? Is it to inform? Sell? Entertain?
Tell your writer what the aims and objectives are of the project in its entirety and of your wider business objectives.
4. WHO IS THE READER?
The intended audience for the content is information that is crucial to your writer.
The writer needs to know details of who your audience are:
What do they like? What annoys them? What style of writing do they prefer….?
Many writers like to have a single imagined reader in their mind of who they are communicating directly with.
Therefore, consider providing this information. If your main reader was a fictional Mrs. W – provide your writer with every last detail you can of who Mrs W is and what might drive her.
5. KEY MESSAGES
Consider the key messages the content of this project is to convey.
What do the audience want to know? What do you want to tell them?
Once the reader has finished reading the content, what do you want them to do with the information?
Go into details. Reflect on, if there was one key piece of information that the reader took away from this content, what would that be?
6. TONE OF VOICE
The term ‘tone of voice’ is one that copywriters use to understand what sort of style the communication should take.
For example, do you want to come across as chatty and informal, formal and polite, conversational, witty?
Provide examples to the writer of styles of writing you like if you have them.
When considering the tone of voice, ensure that the style chosen will reflect your wider image and brand.
7. DEFINITE INCLUSIONS / EXCLUSIONS
What must the content include.. no questions asked?
Are there any keywords, phrases, messages, statistics that the content needs to contain?
Equally, what must the writing not include? Are there any strict no-no’s for the content?
Be detailed and consider this carefully.
Remember your writer does not know your organisation or business like you do. It is easy to forget what others don’t know so if in doubt tell them.
Please make sure that the writer is fully informed of the deadlines for first / second / final drafts. Ensure that they are also aware of how many people are involved in approving the content.
At the briefing stage include full agreements on both sides of what the deadlines will be. This way, neither side will become frustrated!
Make sure that the writer is fully aware of who they are to communicate with regarding the project.
Who do they ask questions of; who do they submit drafts to?
Provide all necessary contact information and preferred methods of communication.
10. COSTS / BUDGET
Ok, saving it to last but it has to be there .. money!
Provide the writer with information about what your budget is and agree costs and estimates between you and your writer at the briefing stage.
The writer can provide information about how they charge for their services. They might charge by the project or they might charge by the hour or by the word.
Ensure you understand how the prices will work and any additional charges that could be incurred. Examples of this might be if there was a need for an earlier deadline than initially agreed or if ongoing drafts are requested beyond the agreed number included in the initial quote.
Briefing your copywriter need not be time-consuming or complicated.
The secret is to give them as much information as you can think of. The writer will be able to filter what information they do and don’t need. It is better they have unnecessary details than insufficient!
Get the brief right and the process of creating great copy could be seamless. This creates less stress for you, a better process for the writer and more impressive copywriting for your content marketing!
What are your thoughts?
Have you experience of anything discussed here?
Are there other things you include on a brief or would leave out?
Please post comments below.