You’ve done your due diligence and found a great copywriter who has loads of experience, has positive reviews and is within your budget. You’re feeling pretty happy with your decision and are excited to start working with them.
After contacting them and having initial discussions, you’re even more sure you’ve made the right decision.
But when the copywriter sends you a client briefing document and requests you fill in several pages of information, you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision. After all, isn’t it the job of the copywriter to do the writing?
What is a brief and why do you need one?
Believe it or not, the fact that your copywriter has sent you a brief to fill in is a sign they are on top of their game.
A great copywriter is someone who will write copy that meets your needs — not theirs. Which is why they require a client brief.
A client brief is a bit like a road map. It contains directions, guidelines and pertinent information in order for your copywriter to come up with the content you are paying them for.
A client brief reduces the chances of ambiguity and misunderstandings when it comes to your content, eliminating the need for countless (and sometimes expensive) revisions and rewrites.
In short, the more information you provide, the better.
A brief is not…
While it’s important to understand the purpose of a client brief, it’s also important to understand what it’s not.
A brief is not:
- A list of terms and conditions of engagement — that should be a separate document and something I will address in a future blog post
- A contact of agreement: — this too is a separate document which outlines the scope of the project, (including fees) which both parties need to sign.
- A promise — while a good copywriter will produce great content according to your specifications, they cannot promise particular outcomes such as website hits and clicks, or sales.
What should you include?
There are no hard and fast rules about what a client brief should include. After all, every writing project is different. However, the following gives you a good idea on what type of questions you may be asked.
- Your business: What is your business (e.g. what do you do, your core operations) and how long have you been in business?
- Your brand: What does your brand stand for? What is your tone? What are your values?
- Engagement objectives: What is the purpose of this communication? Are you looking for a specific outcome or action (e.g. increased sales), or do you want to increase your brand awareness, and increase brand loyalty?
- Target audience: Who are your primary and secondary audiences (e.g. age, gender, socio-economic status)
- Audience persona: What are their interests, concerns, or personality?
- Campaign objectives: What are the key messages you want your consumers to receive regarding your brand or product?
- Key messages: Are there any key messages you want to convey in your content? Are there any messages that must be avoided?
- Key words: Are there any key words that must be used, or avoided?
- Type of message: Is this communication a blog piece? Article? Advertorial? Report? Tender? News article?
- Tone: What is the tone of the message? (e.g. friendly, authoritative, casual, formal, humorous, etc.)
- Content channels: Where will the content be published? (e.g. online, blog, print, social media, advertising etc.) How will it be published? (e.g. bound report, booklet, loose-leaf binder, electronic)
- Images/graphics: Are there any images or graphics that must accompany the content?
- Style guidelines: Is there an in-house Style Guide that must be followed?
- Research: Is credible research required for this communication?
- Examples: Are there any examples of existing material that you like?
- Brand ambassadors: Are there any brand ambassadors associated with your product/brand?
- Scope of the project: How big is the project? (e.g. one-off report, blog or article) What is the word length?
- Budget: What is your budget for this project?
- Deadline: What is the deadline for the project?
You still need to be involved!
Once you have filled in as much information as possible, your copywriter will get busy doing what they need to do. However, don’t think that your job is over just yet! As you are the client, you will be required to provide ongoing feedback or ask any relevant questions for the scope of the project.
If your copywriter requests further information or clarification from you, it’s because it’s relevant to the project. They really aren’t messing with your head!
Oh, and if you have a deadline for this project, then it will be important to provide information, reviews or feedback in a timely manner, in order to meet that deadline. So make sure you factor that into the scope of the project.
Take the time to brief your copywriter
One of the reasons you engage a copywriter may be because you just don’t have time to do the job yourself. However, I highly recommend you take the time to fill out a client brief with as much detail as possible. It may take an hour or two, but in the end, the detail in that document could very well be the difference between mediocre copy and fabulous copy.
Speaking of fabulous copy…. if you’re ready to hire a great copywriter — and are willing to fill in a copy brief! — then please contact me.
If you’re still wondering if you should hire a copywriter, then 10 reasons why you should hire a copywriter may answer some of your questions.