How to brief a copywriter

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to hire a professional copywriter for your project. Now what?

It’s tempting to tell your copywriter to just get on with it. But don’t. Taking time to brief a copywriter and giving them as much information as possible means you’ll get much better copy. It’s as simple as that.
So what will your copywriter need to know?

What is it?
We’ll start of with an easy one. What is the project? Website, brochure, sales letter or advertisement?

Who’s it for?
Who are your customers? What do they do for a living? How much do they earn? Are they busy? Are they male or female? Where do they live? Do they like your product already? What are they worried about? What are their ambitions?

It can be fun and useful to actually create a ‘real person’ for your customer. So you might want copy that’s aimed at Joan, who is 53, married, has 2 grown up children, lives in the Home Counties, only comes to London for the theatre, is a member of the WI and loves dogs.

Give as much information as you can about your target audience. And remember the copy is going to be aimed at them – not you.

Tell me all about your product or service
What are the benefits and features of your product or service? How big or small is it? Does it go faster, longer, further, better than anything else on the market? Can your customers do something more easily, quicker and with less stress because of your product or service?

What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? In other words what makes you different to every other company that does what you do? Haven’t got a USP? A good copywriter should be able to pull one out of you (albeit kicking and screaming).

What’s been done before?
Current and previous marketing bumph are a brilliant source of information for your copywriter. Even if you hate your current marketing material it will at least let your copywriter know what you don’t want.

So fish out previous ads, corporate brochures, sales emails, website copy, sales letters and press releases.

And don’t forget technical information, articles, PowerPoint presentations, market research and testimonials. Even internal emails are useful. Especially the ones with subject lines that say, ‘this is what I hate about our website!!!!!!’

What do you want your copy to do?
Good copy makes good things happen. So think about what you’re trying to achieve.

Do you want your ad campaign to build awareness? Do you want your website to be higher up the Google rankings? Do you want more leads? More calls? More sales? More bums on seats?

What style and tone do you want?
Snappy? Entertaining. Straight to the point? Salesey? Informal? Serious? Hard-hitting?

If you’ve got a particular style of copy in mind show examples to your copywriter. It will make their job a whole lot easier. But remember the style and tone of the copy needs to be right for your target audience – not you.

What’s the deadline?
Ok. Be realistic people. Copywriters aren’t superhuman. Writing a deadline of ‘yesterday’ is not helpful. If you needed the copy yesterday you should have briefed your copywriter a month ago.

Download the Turner Ink copywriting brief.


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