Monday, February 24, 2020

Copywriting: Writing the Brief


What You Need to Know About the Copywriting Brief

The copywriting brief is the mission statement for your copywriting project, letting you know what you need to do and when to stop.

It acts like a barometer, and will help you evaluate your copy.  It's your benchmark for any questions you may have about the project you've been given.  It will answer questions like, 'Is this part of the brief, and does this answer the brief?' If you don't see any problems with your copy, that's okay.  If you do then you need to read your brief again.

If your client agrees with your brief upfront, then you shouldn't have any major problems further down the line.  Big copywriting projects can fall apart because different parties start disagreeing on various aspects of the brief that were never clarified in the copywriting brief.

Components of a Copywriting Brief

Do I Write the Brief?

This depends upon the client, they may prefer you to write a brief, or you may have some ideas written down already.  In some cases they may expect you to take the lead.  Either way, it's your job to obtain a valid brief, even if it means you have to write it out yourself.

You may be provided with a brief if you're working with an agency.  If not you can always talk it through with your client.  In the long-run it's fine, providing you get the information you need.

With smaller projects you'll remember the information more easily, without putting it down on paper.  There may even be times when you feel it best to just press-on with the project.  But still there's no harm in writing out a brief as reference, because it will help you to stay focused.

What to Expect in a Copywriting Brief

Below are some of the things you can expect to find in a copywriting brief:

Product or Service
  • The product, what is it?
  • What kind of person is it for?
  • What does the product do?
  • By what method do people buy and use it?
  • How will the product benefit people?
  • What advantages does it have?
  • What is your customer demographic?
  • In what way do they live?
  • What are their needs?
  • What are their feelings?
  • What are their thoughts on or about the product?
  • Are they currently using a similar product?
  • What do you want your readers to do, think or feel after reading your copy?
  • What position will they be in when they read it?
  • How will the copy be used? (Web page, YouTube video, sales letter,)
  • How long will it be? (75 words, 5 pages, 25 seconds etc)
  • How will it be arranged? (Calls-to-action, main title, sidebars, subtitles, etc)
  • Is there extra content to be added? (Music, diagrams, video, images, etc)
  • What tone will the copy have? (laid back, energetic, emotional, light-hearted, serious, etc)
  • Is there a maximum or minimum length?
  • Is there anything that should be included or left out?
  • Are there any legal issues (Trademarks, prohibited words, or regulations on scientific or health claims, etc)?
  • How does this copy fit in past projects, or those that will be written in the future?
  • Will it form part of a campaign, and used with similar ideas, and used in the future?
  • Will it be translated and appear in other countries?
  • Are there any SEO points to consider (Popular search terms that should be seen in the title etc)
  • Are there any guidelines to follow with regard to branding and voice?
More background information about the product
  • Information about the product (Technical specifications, development history, retail buying processes, buying channels, and marketing strategy)
  • Position of the product in the market (It's price point, any offers and discounts, how the customer perceives the product, and competitors)
  • What is the target market? (Customer profile, size, history, marketing persona)
  • About the client (History, culture, current setup, people, values)
  • About the brand (History, values and positioning)
Project management details
  • Timescale for copy (drafts, dates for copy plan, feedback, final copy, etc)
  • Where will the feedback will come from and how will you receive it?
  • Who will endorse the final copy and how will you receive it?
  • How will your copy be delivered? 
The Example Brief 

Create a 750-1000 word web page to promote Ben Nevis bespoke conservatories and 'Ready Made Rooms'.

Targeting retired and middle aged owners with disposable income and savings who live in older homes.  Who are looking into double glazing to improve the look, soundproofing, and energy economy of their homes.  They want to leave their home to their children, the property value is a very important part of what they require from the product and service provided.

They don't like flashy sales people, and don't appreciate cowboy builders or companies.  When they buy a product they want to feel like they've made a wise choice.  They appreciate good service, and want to be treated with courtesy and care.  They've probably never purchased a conservatory before, so they won't know the process involved.

Describe why Ben Nevis is beneficial in principle, and why Ben Nevis products are expertly superior.  Reveal Ben Nevis' strong market position (ranked second by sales), the affordability of products and the extent of the range of products available.  Relate the service step-by-step, and describe how the entire process is easy and flexible.  Mention the 30-day money-back guarantee along with customer testimonials.

Recommend people to fill in the online form and request a quote, including calls-to-action throughout the web page.  Utilise pullouts and subsections to impress skim-readers.

I would love to hear your comments on any copy you've written or seen online. 
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