10 Steps to a Solid Brief for Your Copywriter

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What you say makes a difference. What you say in print is almost immortalised these days, be it online or on actual printed paper. We’ve all seen those flyers and leaflets dropped through our letterbox with silly spelling mistakes, inappropriate use of apostrophes and careless grammatical errors. Sure, online these can be changed easily enough, but perhaps not always before your customer – prospect or existing – sees it. What you say matters. It says a lot about your business, your brand, how you work and operate, and how much value you put on attention to detail. Particularly in customer communications.

Naturally and with a little bias, I would recommend you get a copywriter in to have a look at what you want to say. Whether it’s for an A5 leaflet or a full website, you want to say what’s appropriate, correct and engaging. Every time. Often, a new or fresh pair of eyes can help you find all the good stuff quickly and remove all the unnecessary waffle that can confuse and dilute your messages.

So how can you make sure your brief for your copywriter is solid and without ambiguity? You can start by thinking about your business – have a sit down and think about your business, your customers and your relationship with your customers: What do you do, who are they and how do you help them? This will get you in the right frame of mind and will make a great start to a solid brief. It will even help you identify the kind of language you can use to communicate with your customers.

What next? Here are 10 steps to a solid brief for your copywriter:

1. Describe what your company does in plain English

Talk about who you are first, then explain what your business does. Lose the buzzwords and overly business-speak like, “we provide solutions” so your real messages don’t get lost in the waffle.

2. How do you help clients and what benefits do you offer them?

This is a great opportunity to talk about how your product or service improves your customers’ lives.

3. What do you want to achieve with your copy?

Sounds like a no-brainer, but this is very important – do you want to reach new customers, keep current customers happy, make your brand more modern or re-position your business in the market? Ensure your copywriter understands your main objectives to avoid any confusion later on in the process.

4. What do you offer that your competitors don’t?

Learning about and understanding your USP(s) helps your copywriter ‘sell’ this to prospective customers as well as create loyalty among existing ones, knowing that they are receiving something unique or special.

5. What are your competitors doing?

If your competition is doing something well, who are they, what are they doing and can you do it better? What does their marketing and promotional material look like?

laptop_working6. Can you provide any testimonials or case studies?

These help support you and your business’s claims. Evidence of how your product or service has worked or a case study outlining a problem and a solution provided by your business goes a long, long way.


7. Who is the target audience for your copy?

Who’s going to read what’s being written? Your typical customer’s demographic breakdown provides your writer with context and a person to write to, so the more information you have, the better. If there’s another audience, make sure you provide information about them too.

8. What is the primary objective of the copy?

Do you want visitors to subscribe to your newsletter on your website, or make a call or send an email about a product? Be sure to tell your copywriter what the main call to action is, along with any other objectives such as increasing brand awareness.

9. What tone of voice do you like?

Keeping in with what your customers are like, how do you want to speak with them? Is it friendly, formal, conversational, professional, funny, educational, light-hearted or something else?

10. What do you like and dislike about your current copy (if you have any)?

What do you want your copywriter to leave and not change? If there is anything that is short, concise and headline-driven that is effective OR if you know or have been told you copy is too heavy, wordy or too technical, let your writer know.

Of course, if there’s anything else that’s important to you, let your copywriter know so they can include it in their draft. The more they know, the better the first draft is going to be. If there are any other steps you think important or you want to send me any funnies that are writing-related, put them in the comments box. Thanks.

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