By: Alison R Bowyer Freelance Copywriter in Milton Keynes
If you’re a small business owner and you’ve approached a copywriter to write clear, persuasive content that promotes your business, the chances are they’ll ask you for a brief.
What is a brief?
The brief is the process of giving your copywriter a set of instructions about what you want them to write.
You may brief the copywriter face-to-face, over the phone, answer questions on an email or complete a brief questionnaire that your copywriter has prepared.
It’s all about giving the copywriter as much information as possible, so that they can write content that works for your business and target audience.
Why is the briefing stage so important?
Briefing your copywriter properly saves time in the long-run. If your copywriter has a clear idea of your vision for the content, then it’s more likely that you’re going to be pleased with the first draft.
It also helps them to plan properly, which is a huge part of a writing project. Without it, things can go wrong pretty quickly.
Think back to your school days. Did you ever write a story or essay that lost its way? Did you ever run out of time and end a story abruptly with the alarm clock ringing and the protagonist realising that it had all been a dream? (Not just me, surely?)
If this ever happened to you, it’s probably because you didn’t plan your writing in advance. (Me too, but I was only 12).
Before they get writing, copywriters spend a huge amount of time researching and planning a project to ensure it achieves the goals the client has set. The more information you provide, the more successful this planning phase will be.
Some copywriters will share the plan with you before writing (or once they’ve written a short section) so you can see if their interpretation of your brief works for you.
At that stage, if you’re not happy with the way it’s going, you have the opportunity to say so early on in the project and gets things back on track.
But I don’t know how to brief a copywriter!
Don’t worry. Your copywriter will know all the right questions to ask (and if they don’t ask questions, don’t hire them).
If they ask you lots of questions, think of this as a good thing. It means they’re taking the time to understand your business and client-base, so they can write something that works.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but your copywriter will probably ask for the following information:
- What you want them to write
- Information about your business (what you do, how long you’ve been in business, number of employees)
- Information about your product/service
- Who is your target audience? (who is this content being written for)
- Your USP and why customers should choose you
- What are the benefits of your product/service?
- Your desired tone of voice (friendly, formal, casual etc)
- Keywords you want included in the content
- Approximate length of copy (pages, number of words etc)
- Your call to action (what do you want to happen next, ie email, call, form etc)
If you don’t have time to meet in person or chat on the phone, most copywriters will be able to send you something called a Brief Questionnaire, that you can complete and return to them.
Be prepared to receive a follow-up call or email to clarify any points. Again, this is a really good thing. It shows that your copywriter is taking the time and care to produce high quality work.
I didn’t realise there was so much to it. I just want to hand it all over to someone to write for me and get on with my day job.
It does seem like a lot, but you’re paying your copywriter to write something that communicates your business message effectively.
It makes sense to put the necessary thought and effort into providing information and direction about what you want, so that your investment brings the returns you’re looking for.
Your copywriter will thank you for it and you’re more likely to be delighted with the content they produce.
Until next time.