How to brief effectively

The beginning of your relationship with your chosen copywriter is vital.

You’ve done your research; you’ve asked the right questions and you’ve found the perfect writer to help you with your project.

So what’s next?

Your copywriting need could be anything from website copy or brochure content to newsletter content or case studies. Whatever it is one thing remains the same – you must give your writer all the information they need to create your content.

I use a detailed pro-forma to extract the information I need. Sometimes my clients are so great they email me immediately with everything I could possible want to know about their company and product or service.

Other times I’m only given the barest of instructions. But that’s not enough.

What your copywriter needs to know

First up let’s take a look at what copywriting is.

My job is not to know your business better than you do. My job is to present your company, it’s products or services in the most eye-catching and compelling way possible.

Home grown copy (that which businesses write themselves) has a tendency to be all about the business and its achievements. The problem is, that’s not what your readers want. They want to know what you’re going to do for them.

Basically your copy has to be written from your customers’ point of view which is why investing in a professional copywriter is a must. Not only do they understand how to write powerful marketing copy, they can also view the company and its products/services from the customers’ perspective.

Just write it

The problem is, to be able to create the copy  your writer will need as much information as possible about your company, its services and products, its ethos as well as the tone you want to convey.

I have, on occasion, had clients that were aghast when I asked them for that type of information. They seem to think that providing me with it would equate to them doing my job for me.

Not true.

So I have explain that I’m good but I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know their company intimately so I can’t write fabulous copy just from their company name.

To illustrate my point consider this. You’re planning on getting married. You’re going to have your dress made for you, found the perfect designer and go and see them to get it started.

When you sit down with them you just say “Make me a wedding dress.”

They are unlikely to “OK”.

They’ll want to know:

  • What your measurements are?
  • Whether you want short or long
  • Do you want a straight dress or one with a full skirt?
  • What colour do you want?
  • Do you want a train?

And that’s just for starters.

You wouldn’t dream of doing this so why expect your copywriter to write amazing SEO website copy from your instruction “I want you to write my website – get on with it”.

A close relationship

The relationship between a copywriter and client should be a close one which is collaborative. You can bounce ideas from each other to develop the perfect copy.

The more work your copywriter does for you, the better they get to know your company. They’ll be able to offer suggestions and help you strengthen all aspects of your marketing.

A great copywriter should be seen as an asset and one that’s worth holding on to.