The demand for copywriter’s services is on the rise due to the ongoing digital expansion of businesses willing to make their online presence not only visible but distinguished.
Whether it is about the projects assigned to in-house writers or writing projects outsourced to contractors, it is crucial that a client prepared a copywriter’s brief professionally to prevent the thin or irrelevant content that is detrimental to the achievement of the clients’ goals.
Speaking of goals, it is important to state the difference between content writing and copywriting because it shapes the purpose of the assignment the content-maker gets.
If keeping a definition of copy in focus, these three statements would describe it at best:
- Although the format might range widely from a webinar script to a Facebook ad, writing a copy implies a SALE while the content is created for the audience engagement.
- A copy has a very clear direction with the mandatory and vocalized call for action while the content writing is more subtle by definition.
- Copy presents an offer of products and services to buy while the content is mostly about creating brand recognition or brand loyalty.
In the article, we assume that both copywriting and content writing as crucial marketing components are to promote, sell, and make a brand, service, and product recognized for its value. Thus, they are written under similar assignment guidelines while differing in regards to the statement of the offer and call to action into the copy.
Is the copywriter’s brief mandatory? Definitely yes.
For the client, it will determine:
- workflow timeframe
- budget planning.
For the copywriter, It will be a roadmap directing at:
- objectives of the project
- deadlines of the project
- feedback mechanism.
Why is it important to spend time on creating a brief?
If you invest time and effort at the stage of the briefing, you are highly likely to get the expected results and high return on investment.
By supplying as much information about the specific project in progress, you assist the copywriter in producing the type of content that will stand the test of time and, thus, work for achieving your business purpose.
More in-depth: However time-consuming the idea of creating a brief resonate with the following three ideas in mind, the task of briefing the copywriter’s on the assignment always pays off.
You set the requirements, which creates the basis for evaluation.
You set the dates, which gives a clear view of the project schedule.
You set the pay rate per project or hour, which prevents the budget overrun.
How to know that a brief is bad?
The brevity is not the best strategy if you want to obtain the results tailored to the needs of your marketing project.
The brief that lacks detail on the project, setting the deadlines or information on a client’s financial obligations is a bad brief that might hinder copywriters’ performance.
The worst brief is simply a string of adjectives expressing the client’s expectations.
Below, there is a horror of any copywriter as that kind of brief signals pitfalls in collaboration.
Fortunately, the effective brief is not that hard to build: both clients and copywriters feel good about a brief comprised of a simple list of answers to very specific questions.
What these questions pertain to, we discuss below.
Summary line: Briefing is essential if you want the copy to build-in naturally into the marketing project you are handling. The brief is not restricting. Rather it is harnessing the creativeness to cater to the project needs.
Creating a professional assignment
While creating the assigned brief, there are two types of questions to consider:
- General management questions
- Project-related questions.
The questions on general management describe the client’s expectations on dates of submitting the results, communication channels and payment procedure.
The second category of questions includes the requirements determined by the specific project. The scope of questions ranges considerably: they cover project-related areas for producing relevant content.
More in-depth: The first category of questions pertains to the detail on timeframe, money, and mechanisms of feedback. In particular, the brief must contain:
- Communication including the preferred channels and the time span for reply
- Editing and sign-off procedure
- Payment terms.
The second category of questions to include into the brief pertains to the project-based details:
- The type of copy that you need
- The list of articles written by competitors
- Text size
- The results on parsing and latent semantic index
- Key Definitions based on keyword search
- Title/Headline/Subtitle creation.
Additionally, for a sales copy, there are special requirements on :
- Offer Section/ Call to action
This part is important to state in the brief if you want the audience to purchase your service or product directly upon reading the content.
Summary line: Divide the list of questions in the brief in two categories and state separately the first category of questions that include the dates, your contact details, pay rate, and the contact detail of the editor if needed.
Questions by categories: Important Notes
General management questions
It is a rare case that a copy is created at one sitting.
For example, an ordinary sales copy depending on the required field of research might take from several hours to several days of work as the stages of creating a copy usually include brainstorming, research, first and the second draft, copy editing, proofreading and spending time on actual submitting the results.
It means that timing and schedule should be regarded as a top priority.
More in-depth: To deal with deadlines successfully, clients specify the information related to dates and time slots into a brief.
Setting the dates and making them realistic is a cornerstone of copywriting management.
It will enable a copywriter to create an outline and plan the parts of work and block out the calendar entries on completing the stages of a copywriting project.
In this part of the brief, it is also essential to give detail on responsibilities and estimates of the budget. Explain the basis of any estimate and terms of timing. For creating the transparency, agree on communications at all the stages and set dates for each stage. For instance, you can create a deadline for submitting the draft, and a separate deadline for a final copy accepted upon revisions.
For feedback, make sure you have the full contact detail for reaching out quickly. The same pertains to you: the copywriter knowing that a client is just a message away especially when it is about remote work mode will feel more assertive about the collaboration.
If the client created the clear cut description for the copywriter, chances are that the project, however big it is, will run smoothly.
Below, there are 5 must-haves project-specific detail that are to be included in the copywriter’s assigned brief.
First and foremost, define what type of content you want from the copywriter:
- blog post
- press release
- landing page
- forum post
- analytical review.
This incomplete list shows a great diversity of content forms.
More in-depth: To avoid pitfalls at this stage, the rule is simple: help a copywriter achieve success on the project by specifying the type of content you need. Additionally, not to reinvent the wheel, it is advisable to attach the content written by competitors. The list of articles that proved their value will assist a copywriter in planning the work.
Stating in the brief the clear purpose you want the copy for will help you realize the business goals: either you want to promote, to sell, to create brand recognition or enhance the customers’ loyalty.
The copywriter should understand the business concept of your company and its mission statement. It will direct the efforts and strongly highlight what you want to concentrate on whether it is know-how, affordable prices, free of charge service, or benefits the product or service will bring to the customer.
More in-depth: The examples of the purpose vary greatly but overall, the simple verb phrase serves best. For instance, ‘to inform the reader about new information, to convince to follow the account, to buy a product, to subscribe, to register on a site, to share the article, to initiate the debates and share personal thoughts on the content’.
Define the size of the text by stating the number of characters or words you want to get.
More in-depth: The number is optional but if you have some strong restrictions, it is a must you included that information in a brief. In particular, for creating the content for a landing page or providing a meta description, the technical part of the task for the copywriter must include the precise number of symbols with spaces for visualizing the layout of the text or its appearance in search. Besides, setting requirements on the word or symbol count facilitates calculating further payments.
Producing keyword-stuffed copy is a losing strategy but research on keywords and including them along with relevant links into a brief is a must. It will not only introduce a copywriter to your business niche but help create a well-structured copy.
Give a list of keywords that should be used in the text, including the number and style of mentioning. The same pertains to the links you want to include in the copy. To increase the level of content visibility on search engines, you need to list in your brief the keywords on your business niche.
Ideally, you work on your general content development strategy before assigning the task. The content development plan is the document that you will extract the information from for briefing a copywriter on including the links, keywords, types of mention.
More in-depth: It is a must you include the information on optimization. List all the features, describe the benefits of each feature, and outline the reasons for choosing the product/service.
If you expect the copywriter to make the copy SEO-friendly, be ready to extend the marketing budget. Additionally, inform the copywriter if you expect them to produce a meta description. Special requirements that go under this category pertain to your vision on text division into paragraphs, the inclusion of bullet lists, choice of headings. If you know that it will improve the reader’s perception, you should include it in a brief too.
Describe the audience you see as your target. You can start with including:
- the information on the company and its statement of mission
- the information on prospective consumers’ occupation
- audience age groups that are potentially interested in your service
Additionally, you can list the activities the users are likely to prefer. It will help a copywriter pick the right tone and choose relevant vocabulary to resonate with the readers. Remember that a copywriter might lack the information of your business niche so do not save on providing the detail.
Speaking of the language means, it is optional but you can describe the style you want the copy to be written. The copywriter then will be able to avoid professional jargon and widen the readers’ circle or, on the contrary, address the niche audience with the expressions they like to hear.
More in-depth: A good way to define your specific requirements regarding the writing style is to attach an example in the same or similar style.
Optionally, in the brief, you list those instruments that will support the further collaboration, so that you and your copywriter were in ‘digital sync’.
Two top tools are helpful for almost all copywriting projects.
- Time tracker for project time calculations
The tool you might find useful to apply is a time tracker with multifunctions. It will help keep the accountability of the contract participants, calculate the worktime with precision and deal with cancellations, reschedules, no-shows easily. Moreover, it will be a great assisting tool for accurate and timely payments because the functionality of modern time trackers allows users to mark billable and non-billable hours.
- Plagiarism checker at the stage of sign-off.
You should mention the name of the checker you use for evaluating the uniqueness of content and state the minimal limit for approval in the brief (in most cases, the uniqueness making the content acceptable is no less than 95%).
Uniqueness is critical for achieving the general marketing purpose of service/product recognition. It implies not only the uniqueness of the writing style but also the advantages that readers get from the content.
The example of the project-based part of the brief might look like a simple list of items along with the short descriptive info.
Summary line: The more detail you include the better, but remember to keep your brief not too long (the average brief is usually one or two pages).
Wrapping it Up
The copywriter’s brief is crucial for effective marketing. When prepared professionally, it saves both the client and copywriter a considerable amount of time by establishing solid grounds for timely and successful project completion.
Technically, the checklist for good brief includes questions about general management and requirements tailored to the specific project needs.
Even the most experienced copywriters always welcome collaboration with customers that take time and efforts in assigning the brief essentials that include:
- a summary on the company profile
- timing and deadlines of the project
- technical limitations.
Optionally, it might define:
- a project statement (to help a copywriter have the client’s perception of the expected result).
With a professionally assigned brief, you enable a copywriter to produce relevant and engaging content and introduce the superb work results in time. If you are a copywriter, we would love for you to share your thoughts through the comments section below. Good luck!