How to brief a copywriter

How do you get the best out of a copywriter? Often it comes back to the brief. Here's our top 10 of what makes a decent brief.

1: Objective – What are you trying to achieve?
Not just in terms of ‘It’s an advert for my new snail shampoo’, but what do you hope will happen because of it?

2: Audience – who are we talking to?
This might be as simple as age demographic, geography or business decision-making group.  If you can add a bit more flesh like the type of groceries they might buy or the car they might drive or which would be their favourite Mr. Man, all the better.

3: USP – your unique selling proposition.
If you haven’t got one at least drag out the main points you want to get across so the copywriter can concentrate their effort right from the start.

4: Hierarchy of features and benefits.
If it’s an ad, we might be focussing on a single-minded proposition and just getting over the benefits of one aspect of your product or service. If it’s a brochure or a website where we’re going to cover it all, we need to get the hottest topics up front. If you have an insight into what they may be, tell the copywriter.

5: Tone of voice.
If you have a written document – great, please send it over. If not, a previous piece of work, a website or brochure that hits the spot is useful as a guide. If you’re really not sure, let’s talk; we can always create some sample pages to play out some options.

6: What channel/format are we in and are there any restrictions?
Some websites have character restrictions in headings. Emails need to be short and sharp. You may have a certain number of frames available on a banner ad. You may need a mailer to come in under a postal weight or TV or radio ads to meet slot lengths. Perhaps you want us to write to length against a visual? If you know of any restrictions, stick them in the brief.

7: Brand considerations.
This can range from not adding an apostrophe after your company name to never allowing your brand name to appear in a list with others. (These two are real examples.)

8: Call to action.
What are we going to ask the reader to do as a result of reading our lovely words?

9: Background information.
We’d always rather be swamped than find the killer benefits at draft two.

10: Deadline.
When do you need it? What are the sign-off processes, and have
you allowed enough time to get the best possible output from us? Almost every copywriter will tell you that if they leave something overnight, they’ll invariably
tweak, tinker and improve it the next morning. Same day copy is rarely as honed. Avoid it if you can.

More words at work