The 7 essential elements to a great copywriting brief

Digital360 on 6 July 2017

Great outcomes start with a great brief. Whether it's a web project, a content marketing program, or a PPC search marketing campaign, a brief sets the project's objectives and the exceptions between two parties – the supplier and their client.

Copywriters are professionals that need specific information about a project to do their best work. If your business is hiring a content creator, such as a copywriter, then it's important to provide them will all the information they need. This ensures your copywriter delivers a high quality outcome that's in line with your expectations.

So, what does a content brief look like? Here are 7 essential elements.

1. Determine the objective

A content brief can be for almost anything – from blog posts to training manuals. Whatever the final deliverable, a content brief must always be specific to its purpose. Outlining objectives and determining goals not only helps business owners and managers, but also helps to motivate writers. They will work more efficiently when they understand their purpose.

2. Define the target audience or customer

Another key element to a good content brief is determining and then defining your audience. First, ask yourself who is reading and why. It is important to understand the age, gender, education, location and even lifestyle of your target market.

A great way to get started is by writing a persona of your reader. This is the audience segment you feel is most aligned with your business. The more you and your copywriter understand the audience's demands, the more effective or targeted your website’s copy will be.

3. Collate key brand elements

Every business has a niche. It’s your job as a business owner or manager to determine that niche and then communicate it to your copywriter. Collect any brand material you have available, and summarise these for the copywriter.

4. Choose your style

Medium and large organisations will often have a working style guide. Basically, a style guide acts as a custom dictionary and thesaurus, and in some cases will dictate anything from font, colour, image types, and page setups.

It is important that all employers and employees are across the style guide so that your presence online remains professional and consistent. However, if your company doesn't have a custom style guide, you or copywriter you choose can select a style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

5. Outline SEO considerations

SEO should be a consideration for everything you publish online, from blog posts to sales copy. This is especially important for new website projects, where your company needs to rank in search engine results for queries related to your products and services.

A good SEO content brief will outline any keywords your writer should use. Where possible, it should also detail where these words should appear, and explain any SEO objectives for the project.

6. Outline the scope of the project

Your writer must understand the scope of the project. If the project is large, then it's important for the writer to think strategically about how they approach their work.

A good content brief should include the size of the project, the number of pages and the word counts for pages and articles. You also need to indicate deadlines and how to use your business’s workflow, any tools they need to use and any training or induction material they need to review.

7. Identify relevant stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people who will work – directly or indirectly – with your copywriter to complete the project. A good content brief will include all necessary contact information for internal and external stakeholders – their name, relationship to the product or business, their position or title, and how to reach them.

It will depend on the project type, but copywriters might need to contact your sales team to understand a particular product's benefit. Or they might need to contact someone who consults on a particular issue relating to a product. Whatever the case, if your writer has access to these resources, they are better positioned to provide your business with accurate copy.

Making your job easier

In addition to a content brief, business owners and managers may also provide their copywriters with additional marketing materials. Copywriters will benefit from any web templates, style guides, links to related projects and examples of previous projects that your business has on hand. The more material you supply, the better the outcome. And that means less back-and-forth with the copywriter.

Alternatively, if you simply don't have the time to be writing content briefs, then you can ask copywriters for a 'reverse' brief. Generally, a reverse brief is a list of questions from a freelance writer for the client to fill out. You can also hire digital agency that can manage the copywriting and content creation process for you.

If you would like to learn more about copywriting services, contact a digital agency.