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A guide to completing my copywriting                               brief

 
Eugene Struthers 

25 April 2023 Re: Client Tags: Copywriting brief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A comprehensive copywriting brief is vital

 

What is a copywriting brief?

A copywriting brief is simply a document that provides a copywriter with all the necessary information they will need to fully understand your business, your goals, and your requirements.

It is usually sent out to a client, so the client is then able to outline to them what is required in a piece of written content that they are commissioning from you.

It includes all the essential information in order to complete the copy.

Essentially it is the structure and building blocks of your copy.

Once completed, a client can send a copywriting brief to a copywriter to get a quote for a project.

Why do copywriters need a brief?

The copywriting brief is a reference guide that helps the copywriter craft a more precise and accurate piece of copy.

The copywriting brief is a document that is agreed upon between the copywriter and the client. In order for the copywriting job to succeed, it is important that both parties understand the requirements and that they are both on the same page from the start.

There are several benefits to investing your time in filling out a copywriting brief:

  • It allows the client to give a comprehensive overview of everything that they want included in their copy. So they are less likely to make changes during the copywriting process.

  • It will save a ton of time, reducing the number of times the client will need to revisit and amend the copy, and reducing cost and stress.

  • A comprehensive brief will allow the copywriter to fully understand your business completely. Which will enable them to communicate your message to your audience more effectively.

  • It enables a copywriter to write copy that is tailored for your targeted audience.

  • The written content will be optimized for conversion.

  • It will also be optimized for your target keywords.

  • The copywriter will be able to quote accurately on the work, so both parties know the scope of the work required and the agreed fee in advance.

  • It also means that the client is more likely to get the copy they need, more quickly, with fewer rounds of revisions.

 

What does a copywriting brief include?

To be perfectly honest, most copywriting briefs are the same. There might, however, be a slight difference in the type of information required.

To fully understand what is required, take a look at each section.

Section One: Information about your business.

This will include information such as:

  • Company profile.

  • History, biography of founders of the company.

  • Business name.

  • Website URL.

  • Products or services they offer.

  • Interesting stories about the company.

  • Business address and Contact information.

 

Section Two: About your business

  1. What is a company’s brand?

A company’s brand is the visible element that makes the company distinguishable from other companies. This could comprise their logo, design, color, and the type of font they use in their advertisements.

These elements contribute to how the public will associate certain attributes to a company. The brand image contributes to how you want your audience to see and think about your product or service and what impression you want to make.

Brand examples:

  • Luxurious, deluxe, opulent, affluent, costly, dependable

  • Authoritative, specialist, accomplished, established, well informed

  • Energetic, fun, vibrant, youthful, entertaining

  • Unusual, unique, original, fresh, dynamic, eccentric

Knowing your brand will allow me to incorporate these attributes into your copy. Which in turn will help me to create the correct type “match” of the tone of voice for your brand.

Getting this wrong will definitely turn the audience off your brand.

Tone of voice

The tone of voice is how you want your copy to sound.

This could include:

  • Professional and authoritative

  • Friendly and approachable

  • Confident and carefree

  • Assertive and disruptive

  • Straightforward and sympathetic

Example: You sell jeans to young teenagers. So you may want to deliberately employ a youthful, energetic brand image with an assertive almost arrogant tone of voice to appeal to this type of audience.

Example: Provider of health insurance to the elderly. You may want to employ a brand image of authoritative, dependable, specialist, or cost-effective, with a tone of voice that is professional, friendly, sympathetic, and straightforward.

Your Brand and Tone of voice must match in order for your copy to achieve its overall objective.  

It is important to clarify at the beginning what your brand and tone of voice are. As they will be at the heart of the copy. What your brand says and how it says it, will greatly impact how your audience determines how it relates to the copy.

Think: What do you want your audience to think about your brand, company, product, or service after reading the copy? Example: Affordable, accessible, exclusive, costly.

Feel: What do you want your audience to feel about your brand, company, product, or service after reading the copy? Example: reassured, energized, confident.

Do: What do you want them to do next? Example: Subscribe, Download a brochure, Sign up for alerts, call or visit your store, or make an online purchase. Commonly referred to as the Call -To - Action.

 

  1. What exactly does your business do?

The general public should be able to understand what products or services you offer in one simple sentence.

This is important for the following reasons:

  • All incoming mail into a prospective customer’s inbox, maybe filtered by a busy secretary who doesn’t clearly understand what you are offering, and she bins your email straight away without even giving it a glance. As a result, the key decision-maker in an organization never gets to hear about your brand – product or service.

  • You might not be aware that your product or service has a wider market than was originally targeted. Keeping your copy simple for them to understand can help you reach them.

  • In one or two sentences you should be able to fully explain what products or services you offer. Avoid any jargon, or technical terminology – pretend you are explaining what you do to a child.

Example: We provide high-grade structural steel components to the health authority. (Bad)

Example: We provide durable medical equipment (beds and trolleys) to the NHS (Good)

  1. What are your company’s values?

Company core values are the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide the organization. They guide crucial actions and behaviours to help shape a company's culture and promote cohesion and cooperation within the core structure of the various departments. The core values assist in how a business makes decisions and forms successful relationships. They explain why your business does what it does and why it differentiates your brand from competitors.

Examples: Integrity, Boldness, Honesty, Trust, Accountability, Commitment, Passion, Fun, Humility, leadership, Diversity, Innovation, Quality, Teamwork, Simplicity, Resilience, Initiative, Passion, Transparency.

 

Brand + tone of voice + Company values = gives a beating heart to your copy

  1. How does your product or service benefit your customers?

Why should prospective customers buy your product or use your use? How will your product or service improve their lives?

  • Does your product or service solve a problem they are having

  • Does having your product or using your service make the task much quicker or easier for them

  • Does having their product or using their service increase their rate of success?

  • Does it assist in achieving a different lifestyle goal?

  • Does having the product or using their services make things more comfortable for you

As a copywriter, having this information will assist us in creating before and after case studies for the client.

  2. Where does your brand sit in the market compared to others in your industry?

 

How does the value of your product or service that you offer compare or differ from others in your industry?

 

Primarily this type of question will give me an indication of where your brand is positioned in the market when compared to others in a similar industry.

 

Clients will need to consider the following, before answering this question:

 

  • What is the disposable income or budget of their ideal customer?

  • Is your product or service more or less expensive than your competitor

  • Is the product or service you are offering, targeted at a High, medium, or Low-value product or service market?

 

  3. What are your main selling points?

What makes your product or service unique? Why should prospective customers purchase your product or service? What makes what you do different from your competitors? Is your product or service better than theirs?

 

Having a product or service that is different rather than better, makes what you offer very exclusive. It is far easier to replicate a product or service that has been classified as being better, but a lot harder if it is exclusive.

You might want to consider this before you answer this question:

  • Do you offer a unique product, service, or a combination of the two

  • Does your product or service have an exclusive unique range of features?

  • Does your brand benefit from specialist knowledge and expertise with a unique set of skills?

  • Does your brand have a unique reason for doing what they do?

  • Do you have a unique brand story?

 

  4. What inspired the creation of your brand?

Do you have a captivating background story to how and why your brand was created? Have you been inspired by something “celebrity or brand “you have seen or heard? And you want to emulate their style.

Is there a similar brand or form of communication that you like the style of? And would like to replicate it into your own unique style.

 

Have you got any special achievements that you need to mention in your copy?

 

Having the right type of achievements can give your brand credibility.

 

This could include:

 

  • Any accreditations you have been awarded

  • Membership in any professional organizations

  • Awards won or been nominated for

  • Sponsorships or fundraising that you do

  • Featured in high-profile publications

  • Any radio or television appearances or interviews

 

Section 3: Your audience

 

In order to write target-specific copy, we first need to know who we are writing it for. In most cases, the client will think that the copy is tailored for them. When in fact it is the exact opposite.

Having a comprehensive understanding of who we are targeting, guides the copy and indicates what type of details should be included within it.

  1. Describe your typical target audience

We first need a comprehensive understanding of your ideal customer.

Specifically these details:

Is your audience Business to consumer (B2C) or Business to Business (B2B)?

  • Age range

  • Gender

  • Education level

  • Location

  • Profession

  • Interests and hobbies

  • Social media preference

  • Socio-economic classification

Primarily; the two main deciding factors that can influence a prospective customer’s decision-making process to either purchase a product or service are based on a want or need.

In most cases having an option can change a need into a want.

 

Example: I need a new washing machine to clean my clothes, that’s all I really need. But I know I want this particular washing machine, as it has the option of a 1-year free replacement if it can’t be fixed.

Our job as a copywriter is to create the “want” desire in the copy.

To do this, we first need to answer the following questions:

  • What motivates a customer?

  • Why do they need your product or service?

  • What requirements would make them want your product or service?

  • How do we convince a customer that your product or service will solve their problem?

  • Where do they want to be after they have purchased your product or service?

  • How does the customer envision themselves with your product or service?

  • What is a customer’s ideal scenario for using your service or purchasing your product?

 

  2. Can your product or service solve a customer’s problems?

 

What problems are your customers having that your product or service could solve for them?

 

We first need to establish what these problems are:

 

  • What are they struggling with?

  • What is consuming them and causing them to waste time, money, and resources?

  • How can we save them money?

  • How can we assist them to be more productive?

  • How can we help them eliminate stress and worry?

  • How can we assist them to be more efficient in what they do?

 

You can then explain how your solution “Product or Service” will resolve their problems and improve their situation.

  3. Establish what motivates your customers.

 

What is going to motivate your customers to purchase your product or service?

 

Does your product or service:

 

  • Make and save them money.

  • Affordable every month.

  • Falls within their disposable income level.

  • Enables them to be more productive, in a more efficient and cost-effective manner with less effort.

  • Satisfies their level of desire.

  • Alleviate their discomfort level.

  • Helps them accomplish their ambition.

  • Assists them to achieve a higher social lifestyle status.

  • Eliminate mental health concerns by taking away anxiety and worry.

 

  4. How do you want your customers to feel?

 

The decision-making process is led by feeling. This emotional response can influence how a customer makes a decision to purchase a product or service.

 

It is our job as a copywriter to tap (make a calculated assessment) into this feeling a customer may have, to influence their emotional response.

 

How do you create a feeling in your copy? And how can we influence a customer to respond in a certain way?

 

We first need to create content that will make the customer feel:

 

  • Confident in your product or service.

  • Enthusiastic about being an exclusive member.

  • Excited to try your product or service.

  • Intrigued to click and order.

  • Reassured that they are getting what they have been promised.

  • Relieved that the benefits do what they state they can do.

  • Proud to display your brand and actively promote the company to others.

Section 4: Researching your competitor

 

Competitor research

 

Determine who your competitors are.

 

Conducting thorough research into your competitors will enable you to figure out where you fit into your market. What works in a business similar to yours may not work for your brand. By dividing your competitors into two categories: direct and indirect.

 

Direct competitors: Operate in your same geographic area and offer products or services that could pass as a similar substitute to yours.

 

Indirect competitors: They provide products or services that are not the same, but they satisfy the same customers’ needs or solve the same problem.

 

 

Collect data about your competitors

  

This is where I gather data from your competitors, to see what your competitor’s products are like to determine the quality of the service they are offering.

 

This data will come from several different sources:

 

  • The competitor’s website: products & and services, price points, etc.

  • Social media: competitor posts, sentiment, audience profiling, etc.

  • Industry reports: revenue, market share, pricing strategies.

  • Financial reports: if public.

  • News articles: competitor mentions, press releases, advertisements.

  • Review sites: consumer reviews, employee reviews, social media, forums, FAQs, whitepapers, eBooks, blogs, media kits, case studies.

  • Their sales process, channels, locations, on and offline advertising campaigns

 

 

Analyze the data

 

Analyzing your competitor’s data will allow me to verify their strengths and weaknesses. It can help you identify opportunities and threats.

 

Taking note of the competitor’s content strategy is important: Is it updated regularly, how in-depth is it, what is their tone, what is the style of the images and videos and written content, is the content structured properly, who is writing the content (in-house team, one person, multiple contributors). What is the copy like?

 

 

  •  Determine why they are so successful, understand the technology they use, software programs, etc.

  •  Analyze the level of engagement on your competitor’s content. What are customers saying about them? How often are they posting? What are they posting the most?

  •  Identify the things your competitors are doing wrong. This will give you an idea of gaps in the market.

  •  It will help identify the ways your company, product, or service is different. And this will help you establish your value proposition.

  •  Establish who their main competitors are.

  •  What is their digital marketing strategy (paid to organic)?

  •  How do they deal with negative criticism of their product or service?

  • Analyzing customer reviews, comments, questions, and complaints.

 

Section 5: Your project

What do you want to achieve with this project?

 

What is the main purpose of the project?

 

What information do you need?

 

Answering these questions will clarify what you want to achieve and what direction you want your project to go.

 

 

  1. Basic project information required:

 

  1. What is the title of your project?

  2. What type of media publication do you require? (Brochure, blog, article, or website)

  3. How do you want the project presented?

    1. How many pages do you require?

    2. What is your word count limit?

    3. How do you want the layout to be displayed?

    4. What type, size, and colour of font should be used?

 

  2. What is the main aim of your project?

In order to fully understand what the aim of your project is. We first need to establish what results you are looking to achieve for your business.

Perhaps your business wants to:

  • Attract more visitors to your website.

  • Get more sign-ups to your mailing list and downloads of your brochure.

  • Increase social media presence and business enquiries

  • Expand brand recognition and increase sales

  • Advise the public of new products or services

  • Convert more website visitors into loyal customers 

 

  3. Extra important information to be included

To add extra credibility to your business project. I will need access to information that your business is associated with.

Your business might be associated with:

  • Government-regulated trade bodies

  • Recognized by an industry-accredited body

  • An official agency

  • Independent recognized industry association

  • Trading standards organization

 

Section 6:   Your business website

 

This is where as a qualified web editor. I will be able to fine-tune the presentation and content of your website, checking that your users are able to interact and engage with your website correctly.

 

Click: Why your business needs a Web editor.

 

Section 7: SEO Search Engine Optimisation 

(Qualified in Google SEO)

How is the general public finding out about your business?

This is where we will check:

  • The terminology and coding being used

  • How having a good website design and structure improves SERPS

  • Analysis of the website structure

  • Check the type of keywords you are already using and recommend the correct keywords you should be using

  • How to optimise on-page SEO and metadata

  • How to create persuasive, unique, and focused content that is SEO-friendly

  • Check your link building: backlinks, internal links, and outbound links for SEO

  • Checking your page speed and the elements that will make the user experience more effective.

  • Run tests to make sure your website is SEO mobile-friendly

  • Check Off-page SEO and Social media backlinks

 

If you don’t already have a Google Analytics or Search Console account. I can show you the process of how to set one up. So that you will be able to conduct your own analytics and ongoing strategies. Once we part ways.

Based on:

  • Real-time information: location, traffic sources, content, events, and conversions

  • Audience: who is checking out your website, demographics, age, gender, language, interests, etc.

  • Acquisitions: how users are finding you; direct entry into your website, organic search, email, paid search, advertising, social media, SEO keyword

  • Behaviour: of your audience, time on each page, bounce rate, how quickly your pages load, average user time

  • Conversions: Are you users doing what you want them to do: registering, signing up, downloading, making a purchase, and completing the Call to action?

 

Section 8: Specific project details

 

In this section, you may want to be specific about how you would like the layout of each page structured. The placement of images and written content. Which pages should have a visual interactive element and another a video element? The colour tones of the text are in contrast to the headlines and descriptions. What type of content each page should have? And the order in which you would like them to appear.

 

Additional resources

Getting an insight into how your business previously operated. This will allow me to gain a proper overview of why you have sought my help.

Providing me with additional information and resources will also allow me to gain an impression of how your business conducted itself in the past right up to the present time.

The additional information I will need from you:

  • Previous Case studies and testimonials

  • Previous and existing marketing material

  • Financial information etc.

  • Any research or statistics conducted

  • Your current Google Analytics if you have it

  • Information on your current SEO ongoing strategy

Any additional information that will contribute to me gaining a full and comprehensive understanding of your business and how it operates.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Bio

Eugene Struthers creates engaging SEO web copywriting content that helps businesses find their voice, spread their message and tell their story. Eugene’s mission is to create eye catching copywriting content that converts visitors into your loyal customers

Freelance journalist | Eugene Struthers | Copywriter | England

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