Most of my copywriting projects are done remotely. I don’t meet my clients or have the luxury of time to hang out and get to know the soul of their business. But that’s exactly what I need to do to create mind-blowing copywriting for their website, blog or brochure.
So how do I dig deep to produce the copywriting gold? A detailed copywriting brief.
Is the copywriting brief really that important?
I know what you’re thinking: A short copywriting brief is better because it means you can get straight into the copywriting, right? WRONG.
I know from experience that a quick copywriting brief is light on details and heavy on generalities. The result is bland copywriting and an intensive revision process.
The copywriting brief will set the course of the project.
It gives me everything I need to create exceptional copywriting. Or not.
The more gaps there are, the more often I have to follow up with endless questions. That’s time consuming (and annoying) for my client and me. The other option is to take a guess, which is a sure-fire way to need a complete rewrite after the first version.
A detailed copywriting brief takes more time but it’s worth it.
More than just time, a detailed creative brief takes more thought and sometimes I have to tease the answers out. That’s where my marketing background can come in handy. Quite often I’m asking questions my clients haven’t really thought about in detail and they get to use their new revelations across the rest of their marketing.
So I thought I would share my copywriting brief with you. These are questions I ask and the reasons I ask them. Trust me. You’ll thank me when you see your copy.
My Copywriting Brief
- Name of the company and any nicknames it has [internally and externally].
- Your company tagline or motto.
- A contact person for the project.
- Project description: What is it we’re doing here?
- Scope and inclusions: To make sure I don’t miss anything out.
- Objectives: What is it you need this piece to achieve?
- Target audience: Who exactly are you appealing to?
- Call to action: What do you want your audience to do as a result?
- Tone and style: What kind of vibe do you want this piece to have?
- Deadlines: When do you need the final draft done by?
- Constraints: Are there any constraints such as word count or design?
- Keywords: Do you know your keywords?
General Business Information
- Company background & values: How did you get started? What is your company philosophy?
- Customer pain points: What keeps your clients awake at 2am? What influences their decision to buy?
- Barriers to purchase: What makes it difficult to decide/buy?
- Value proposition: What do you do to solve those frustrations? What’s the real value you offer?
- Competitors and industry bodies: Give me a feel for the market/industry you work in.
- Alternatives: What are the alternatives to your product or service?
- Your USP or POD: How are you different? What makes you so special?
- Testimonials: Do you have any quotes or testimonials from clients?
- Brand personality: Describe the personality of your business in five words or fewer.
- Existing marketing material: I can ensure your new copy complements your current marketing.
- Clubs, industry memberships & awards: How can you validate your expertise?
For each page or business service, detail:
- Objectives [if they differ from the project objectives].
- The Features.
- The Benefits each feature actually provides.
- Why someone would choose this over another product or service.
- Call to action [if it differs from the project call to action].
Must Haves: Is there anything you specifically want on the page?
Must Not Haves: Is there anything you really don’t want mentioned?
Time? Yes. Effort? Yes. Great Results? Every time.
So that’s my copywriting brief.
Yes, it’s very detailed. I spend at least an hour talking through the information to tease out more detail and nudge clients towards important marketing realisations. The best part is that I usually find some copywriting gold in my client’s own words.
That’s what a great copywriter does – tease out the gold.
So next time you’re getting a grilling from your copywriter, remember that the detail will set a strong path that leads to mind-blowing copywriting.
If you are a copywriter reading this, how does your brief compare? Can you see any gaps? Or maybe you’ve picked up some great questions to add to your own brief? Let me know.
The Copy Detective