8 tips to brief your copywriter the smart way

8 tips to brief your copywriter the smart way

A copywriter is only as good as the brief you give them.

If you’re planning to invest in copywriting services, it’s smart to take the time to put a solid brief together. The more you can direct your copywriter, the better their content will be and the more it will resonate with your audience.

Tip 1: Don’t skimp on the brief

I don’t know who coined the term ‘brief’ but whoever they are, they certainly misnamed it. It should be called a ‘long’!

A longer description of your business and target audience is going to be far more helpful for your copywriter than a ‘brief’ outline.

A good brief will help us copywriters in two ways.

First, a good brief helps us work out the scope of the work so we can prepare an accurate quote.

Second, a good brief will help us write in the right style and tone for your audience and help us all avoid the frustration of revisions and amendments because we haven’t quite nailed the copy.

A good copywriter will steer you through this briefing process. No one knows your business as well as you do. That’s why your copywriter wants you to dive deep into your knowledge, so they can scope and quote the project, and then assemble the right words to reach your target audience.

If you struggle to get your thoughts down on paper (and hey, isn’t that why you’re hiring a copywriter in the first place?) then a good copywriter will give you options for completing the brief. Some people prefer a phone call or video chat to tease out the information where the copywriter captures what you say and turns it into a written brief for you to approve.

Tip 2: Describe the copywriting work you need them to create

First, you need to tell your copywriter what sort of copywriting work you need to be done.

Do you need a tri-fold brochure? A sales landing page? A ten-page website? Seven blog posts? An email auto-responder sequence? A video script?

Next, consider the purpose behind what you want to create.

Do you want your website to drive new leads for your business or is it there as a form of social proof for potential customers to look at after they meet in person?

Are you giving brochures to people you meet at a trade fair or are you dropping them in a letterbox?

Give your copywriter as much information as possible about the copywriting work and its purpose and in return, they can give you an accurate quote.

This will also help you work out your success metrics for the project.

Tip 3: Describe your target audience

If your copywriter knows who they’re writing for, they know how to best shape the content to suit the market.

In your brief, describe your target audience in detail. From gender to age range to hobbies and aspirations. The more detail you provide, the clearer the picture will be.

Some copywriters like to create ‘personas’ (also known as ‘avatars’) and keep this persona in mind while writing content. This helps us to craft content specifically for your audience.

Tip 4: Outline your target audience’s pain points

If we know what’s ailing your target audience, we can find smart ways to address those pain points.

We want to know how your audience is hurting and how your products or services are solving their problems. Give us some examples of how your products or services have helped others.

For example, tell us how your organic fresh food delivery service takes the worry out of us having to decide what to cook that evening, saves us time because we don’t have to prepare the meal ourselves, and gives us peace of mind knowing we’re serving your family an organic, healthy dinner.

As a bookkeeper, remind us how good we’ll feel knowing that our tax obligations are being met and there is an excellent paper trail of our income and expenditure so we can see at a glance how our business is performing.

Tip 5: Don’t confuse features with benefits

While we need to know the features of your product or service, we need to know the benefits. We sell the benefits.

Features are things like a three-speed setting and interchangeable blades on a food processor. The benefits are things like processing food into different textures for different recipes.

Think about:

  • How has your product or service helped others?
  • What positive things are your customers saying about your product?

Tip 6: Know your distinction

Chances are your business is not unique. It’s not different. You probably offer the same or very similar products and services as your competitor. A good copywriter won’t try to inflate the ‘unique’ angle. Instead, we look for the distinction.

What’s distinct about your business? How are you different to your competitors?

Going back to the food processor example, perhaps you are Australian designed and manufactured. We can play up this angle for those who like to buy and support locally designed products.  For the bookkeeper, perhaps you offer a free 15-minute chat each month with your clients to check in and see what’s going on with their business. These are the sorts of distinctions that set you apart from your competitors.

Tip 7: Be clear about what you want people to do

All your marketing collateral should have a ‘call to action’. What do you want your audience do after reading the copy your copywriter will create. Do you want them to:

  • Buy your product?
  • Download a fact sheet?
  • Call you?
  • Email you?

Be clear about what action you want someone to take after reading your content.

Tip 8: Prepare examples of content you like

It can be helpful if you show us what sort of content you like and explain why you like it and why you think it suits your business. But this is not a license to do the dreaded ‘link dump and run’. A brief is not “I want something like this website” with no further explanation.

Tell us what you like about it and why you think it suits your audience.

The unintended benefit of putting a brief together

Putting a brief together can help remind you of what your customers love about your products or services and what differentiates you from your competitors. If you’re struggling to put a brief together, a good copywriter will guide you through this process.

A good brief will give your copywriter a clear road map of what we need to create and how to craft your copy to attract, engage and convert your target audience.

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