How to Brief Your Copywriter
What Is a Copywriting Brief and Why Is It Important?
When working with a copywriter, whether they’re in-house or an external vendor, you need to give them information so they know what to write about and can produce content that meets your expectations and fulfills your needs. That’s what a copywriting brief is. But how much detail should you give them and what is the essential information that you can’t leave out? If you aren’t used to working with a copywriter, this might not be so obvious, and you might end up in a situation where one or both parties is working off implicit assumptions that turn out to be wrong. No matter how good your copywriter is, they can’t read your mind.
Be prepared to provide your copywriter with a solid brief so that you can avoid misunderstandings and get the most bang for your copywriting buck. In this post, we’ll share our top five tips for properly briefing your copywriter.
1. Describe Your Brand
Before you get into the details of the specific copywriting project in question, it’s crucial to brief any new copywriter on your company and your branding more generally. They need to know your overall brand strategy, your unique value proposition, and your position in the industry relative to your competitors.
If you have a brand guide or a company style guide, now’s the time to share it. If you don’t have one, we recommend that you create one, but in the meantime, here are the main points your copywriter will need to know regarding your brand voice:
- Your brand name and how you prefer it to be spelled and used. For example, OXO Innovation’s own brand guide specifies that OXO should always be written in all-caps, and that it’s ok to drop the word “Innovation” and just say “OXO” for short.
- Any terminological preferences. Think about the vocabulary specific to your industry. Are there any synonyms that you prefer to privilege or avoid? Any preferred spellings? For example, to draw on our own brand again, at OXO we avoid the word “translation agency” and use “translation company” instead, because an agency is typically an intermediary between two parties and we see ourselves as much more than that.
- Your preferred tone. Is your brand voice serious and knowledgeable? Friendly and helpful? Hip and humorous? You can also use different tones for different audiences or types of content.
2. Describe Your Product or Service
You’re probably hoping to sell something, either directly or indirectly, through this copy. Make sure your copywriter knows about your product or service: what exactly it is you offer, at what price point, and what the benefits are for your customers. Include links and resource materials where your copywriter can learn more.
For example, if you’re selling a dating app, tell the copywriter about its main features (even if that’s not what this particular copywriting project is about) or point them to the webpage where they can read about it. Are all users pre-screened? Is there a smart matching algorithm? Can only women make the first move? Describe how it’s different from the main players like Tinder.
3. Picture Your Ideal Customer
Think about who your audience is for this copy. You can even make up a few audience personas, i.e. imaginary characters who represent your ideal customer. When trying to imagine your audience, consider:
- Broad demographics such as age, gender, household income, geographic location, level of education
- The problem or desire that your product/service fulfills for them
- Their level of awareness of your brand and familiarity with your product
- What media they consume and which brands or people influence them
- The barriers that might hold them back from buying from you
- The triggers that would convince them to act now
4. Get Into the Nitty-Gritty of Your Project
Now that we’ve covered the more big-picture questions, it’s time to get down to the details. So far, we’ve gone through the information that you need to share with your copywriting provider the first time you work with them, at the beginning of your relationship. You won’t need to repeat it every time. Let’s look at the requirements you’ll have to specify for every single copywriting project. With every content request, remember to include:
- The medium. Is it a web page, a blog article, a press release, an ad, a social media post, an email campaign?
- Any and all constraints such as word count, layout, or visuals that will be used.
- The main message and any additional points that must be mentioned.
- The main action you want your reader to take after reading the copy.
- Your deadlines for deliverables.
You can also provide examples of similar copy for reference and inspiration, and indicate any SEO keywords that should be used. Lastly, you can also mention the context in which your audience will encounter this copy. For example, if it’s an ad, where will it appear? If it’s a press release, are you submitting it to the newswire or sending it directly to a specific news outlet? If it’s a web page, how did the reader land on it?
5. Give Feedback
Almost as important as properly briefing your copywriter ahead of the project is providing feedback along the way and afterwards. It’s normal, especially in a new relationship, for the copy to go through more than one draft. You should leave room for a round of revisions in your timeline.
Also, after the copy’s been published, it can be helpful to share any information you have on how it performed. Did readers take the action you wanted them to? Did one version of the ad copy perform better than the other in A/B testing?
Ready to get started?
Any good copywriter will ask you for the information they need and probably has their own briefing template or questionnaire for you to fill out, so you don’t need to worry about showing up with a fully fleshed-out brief document that covers all the bases. However, it will make the process much quicker and smoother if you’ve considered the above questions before you reach out to a copywriter for a new project or before your kickoff meeting.
Now that you’ve thought about your brand, your audience, and the particular content that you need, you’re ready to hire a copywriting provider. Reach out to OXO for professional copywriting services—we’re ready for your brief!