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How to Brief a Copywriter (Table Explanation & Free Template)

Concepts of a brief in a diagram

A copywriting brief is the ‘magic’ behind copywriting results.

Whilst technically it’s optional, it’s a must have ‘document’ to maximise results (and leave no money on the table).

Here’s how to brief a copywriter (with a table explanation – that matches our free template), by:

  • Focusing on what matters (ensuring the quickest path to your project’s success)
  • Avoiding sweating the small stuff (leading to information overload and a poor result).

1. Your Details

Item How to Brief (Explanation)

1.1 Full name

1.2 Business name

1.3 Website URL (if applicable

1.4 Best phone #

1.5 Best email

 

All this section on your brief is self-explanatory.

But why not go a step-further by introducing yourself, by briefly outlining:

  • Who you are?
  • What you do?
  • How you help your customers/clients?


Because business success is based on building great ‘professional relationships.’

And it all starts by creating a favourable first impression – as this a mutual relationship – therefore you should both look forward to working with each other to maximise results (what matters).

2. Your Requirements

Item How to Brief (Explanation)
2.1 Summarise your project?
  • Describe what kind of copy do you need? For example: website, SEO, email, social media video script or blog copy.
  • Specify what the copy will be used for? For example: A new website, product launch, landing page or special offer.
  • Do you need graphics? Because any great copy is complemented by great visuals for maximum success.
2.2 Links or visual references?
  • Help your copywriter ‘visualise’ your project (key to success).
  • Provide any links/visual references.
  • Allows better understanding of how the copy will be used.
2.3 Budget of your project?
  • Specify budget of your project here.
  • If unsure of budget, refer to this guide/list a ballpark budget.
  • Must be mutually agreed between client and copywriter.
2.4 Deadline for first copy draft?
  • Write down a deadline that you’re happy with.
  • Mutually agree deadline with copywriter.
  • Revise and amend deadline if necessary.
2.5 Deadline for final copy?
  • Write down a deadline that you’re happy with.
  • Mutually agree deadline with copywriter.
  • Revise and amend deadline if necessary.

3. Your Project Specifics

Item How to Brief (Explanation)
3.1 What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • What is your unique benefit that makes you stand out from your competitors? For example: The ‘strength’ of your coffee or ‘the right fit’ every time for bras.
  • Will your target audience care about your USP? Ensure it does by doing proper research as this is key to ‘differentiation’, otherwise your USP won’t be effective.
  • Do you need help with your USP? A good copywriter has ‘advanced’ skills in marketing and so let them help! Simply list bullet points here to guide them.
3.2 Your target audience?
  • Who is your target audience? Be specific for best results. For example: Females aged 35-55, employed with disposable income of >$80,000 and own family.
  • What problem is your target audience facing? We need to identify the ‘pain point’ (the problem) to succeed. For example: A customer is frustrated after dealing with many accountants and only wants one with upfront and transparent fees.
  • What action do you want your target audience to take? So your target audience has consumed your content, but now, what do you want them to do? For example: Do you want them to submit a form for a free quote, call your company, buy from you or subscribe to an email list.
3.3 Who are your key competitors?
  • List your key competitors? Put careful thought into this as copywriting success is built on proven strategies that do not reinvent the wheel and use ‘existing’ resources as a baseline for future success.
  • List your top competitor? Choose the one competitor that you believe is the market leader in your industry.
  • What is your top competitor’s number 1 strength and weakness? No brand is perfect. Therefore, we note their strengths but getting greater insights on their weaknesses.
3.4 What is your tone of voice?
  • What tone of voice would you like for your copy? For example: Casual, serious, authoritative, cheerful, conversational, caring, friendly or humorous.
  • Examples? Please specify examples of existing material (or other references)/style guidelines to support this tone of voice (if possible).
  • Unsure of tone of voice? Finding the right tone of voice in communication is a great reference from Harappa that might help you. But, if not, speak to your copywriter.
3.5 Single most important thing the copy must communicate?
  • Take time to think about this as your first answer will not always be correct.
  • Because remember ‘clarity’ is achieved when your target audience receives one ‘memorable’ message, that is more likely to be acted upon than multiple messages.
  • Need help? Your copywriter has expertise in conciseness (a copywriting fundamental) and so they’ll be able to help you.

4. Your Summary

Item How to Brief (Explanation)
4.1 What are your dos for this project?
  • Use your own words
  • Be clear and specific
  • Directness works best to maximise results.

For example, you may have a dislike for ‘fluff’ and ‘filler’ words – so tell your copywriter to be concise.

4.2 What are your don’ts for this project?
  • Use your own words
  • Be clear and specific
  • Directness works best to maximise results.

For example, you may dislike the use of too many commas in your copy. So be sure to tell your copywriter to restructure sentences accordingly.

4.3 Ideal word counts?
  • What’s your ideal word count for the project? Specifying a word count can help a copywriter better execute the content.
  • Is achieving this word count important for you? You want results (like any other client) but please state if the word count is a make-or-break factor.
  • Do you want your copywriter to judge the word count? Good copywriters want results as much as you do. So consider using their expertise to guide you on word count.
4.4 Any SEO keywords you want to include or SEO requirements?
  • Specify your SEO keywords you want to rank for, if you have any.
  • Note: Not specifying SEO keywords is not a ‘make’ or ‘break’ factor as any good copywriter is skilled in optimising your copy for SEO (including keywords).
  • Speak to your copywriter if you have any other SEO requirements but remember: While good copywriters have a great understanding of SEO, they are not SEO specialists that can guarantee rankings on the first page. That’s just not possible, as the Google search algorithm has 200 ranking factors.
4.5 Any supporting documentation to attach?
  • Send to your copywriter any documentation you believe will be beneficial.
  • Can include benchmark references, key competitor information and voice/tone/style guidelines.
  • Don’t overload your copywriter but don’t be scared to send ‘more’ documentation – as any good copywriter is a ‘master of research’ and ‘summarising’ what is key information quickly.
Item How to Brief (Explanation)

Date of Brief:

Name/signature of client:

Name/signature of copywriter:

Date of agreement:

Once you (the client) and the copywriter are happy with the brief, sign it. This ensures the brief acts as a ‘reference point’ for both parties for accountability and result reasons. And don’t skip this step, because only a ‘signed’ brief acts as a contract.

Volkswagen beetle driving on road

Conclusion

Scottish-American financial journalist and author B.C. Forbes (founder of Forbes) once said: “A business is like an automobile, has to be driven, in order to get results.”

And this summarises the importance of a copywriting brief perfectly.

So let your ‘copywriting brief’ be like any car (that is foundationally solid – like your brief) that will ‘drive’ your copywriting project’s success (maximising results for your business).

Here’s your free template on ‘how to brief a copywriter.’

 

Over to You…

Do you agree with How to Brief a Copywriter (Table Explanation & Free Template)? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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