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Lawyers create briefs when they are preparing for an argument in court. These briefs outline the major points of their arguments in court. But the word “brief” can mean many things.
And in the world of copywriting, a brief is created so that a copywriter knows exactly what he needs to do to complete a project that will thrill their client.
A copywriting brief provides a detailed outline of what is to be written, for whom it is to be written, the style and tone of the piece, and a myriad of other details that all go toward achieving what the client wants.
Who Writes a Copywriting Brief?
There are two people involved in a copywriting project – the client and the copywriter. And either one of them may create a brief for that project.
The client may know exactly what he wants and include all of the detailed information in the brief before “letting” it out for bids by copywriters. This is a good plan, if the client knows exactly what he wants and can reduce those needs to writing. Potential copywriters then know if they have the skills and the desire to become contenders for that project.
The copywriter may actually prepare the brief once he has been contracted for the project. This occurs when a client has already contracted with a copywriter, and that copywriter must now ask the right questions in order to create a brief before he begins.
Essentials of the Copywriting Project Brief
The biggest mistake that both clients and copywriters make is to create a brief that is too general and short. It means that the copywriter doesn’t have the information he needs to find the “gold” that may be lurking in the information. Gold are those little pieces of information that provide a creative start point for an amazing copy.
So here is what should be included in a brief. And many content writers develop templates that will ensure that nothing is forgotten.
General Information About the Company
- Aside from the company name (obvious), are there any brand nicknames? What’s the logo or any mottos/slogans the company has?
- What’s the company history and its mission?
- What are the “pain points” of the target audience and how does the company address those pain points? In other words, what value does the company provide to that target audience?
- What makes it toughest for a potential customer to make a decision to buy? Price? Competition? Etc.?
- What is the competition like? How much competition is there in the niche? What are the most popular alternatives to the products or services the business offers?
- Are there real and validated customer testimonials that might be used?
- What kind of current content is out there for marketing purposes?
- How is the client expertise demonstrated? Are there awards, memberships, etc. which the company can attest to?
It’s not that a lot of this information will be used in the copywriting project, but this background information lets a copywriter have a feel for the company and its brand, as well as its target audience. It is a start point for further research and for digging deeper into a business “personality.”
Information Relative to the Specific Project
This is where the details of the specific project are laid out. In the brief, the following questions should be answered:
- What is this copywriting piece supposed to accomplish? Is it to attract new customers, appeal to existing customers, explain the value of products/services, offer something new, educate, entertain, inspire?
- Who is the piece targeting?
- What type of tone and style is desired? Formal, light, humorous, etc.?
- What is the deadline for project completion?
- What keywords/phrases are to be included?
- Is there a CTA and, if so, for what purpose?
- How many separate pages are envisioned and what specifics are to be included on each of those pages? Is there anything that should specifically not be mentioned/included?
- If the content involves advertising, there are additional questions to ask.
All of this may seem like a lot of up-front work. But the alternative is not having an amazing piece of copy that meets every specification and that is both creative and engaging. And a complete document also means fewer calls, emails and re-writes. It is the copywriter’s job to take all of this detail and transform it into an exceptional piece. But he cannot do that without a project brief.
If you are a copywriter, your professional demeanor is everything. Knowing how to create a copywriting project will impress any potential client. And as well? You will have all of the information you need to pull out those unique features of that client that provide value to his audience in a creative way.
Author Bio: Daniela McVicker describes herself as someone who has options. Those options include music (she is actually a keyboard player for a band), a seeker of new adventures (the latest being skydiving), and a lover of the written word. She is a creative writer, has a published novel, and is a frequent blogger for the website, TopWritersReview.