How to brief your copywriter

I had two very interesting meetings this week.  The first was with a branding expert, who gave the advice that you should always understand your business brand before engaging a designer.  

If you engage the designer first, she said, then because you don’t yet understand your brand, neither will they, so you’re likely to end up with an uninspiring logo featuring the standard colours and designs typically used by your profession.  In short, you won’t stand out.

Later on I met with a photographer, who told me about how to find the right person to take your wedding photos.  “You have to know exactly what you want,” he said, “because a wedding is a unique experience you can’t repeat just because the pictures weren’t quite right.” 

These two encounters made me think about my efforts as a writer, and how important it is that my clients know something about what they actually want to say before I get started on their work. 

Some people assume, for example, that I can easily write blog posts for them without them inputting any thoughts or ideas, or without my knowing anything about their business.

It’s sort-of true, I suppose.  With Google being the font of all knowledge (fake or not!), I probably could cobble together a basic blog post that would inform people about most businesses. 

But it wouldn’t be very interesting, and it wouldn’t speak with your voice.  Potential clients would be missing out on information that could only come from you, with your years of insider experience.  These elements are what make a blog a really great read, and they are what will help set you apart from your competition. 

The best pieces of writing are compelling to read because they sing with the unique personality of the person creating them (in my case, I’m trying to help your personality sing, not mine!) – so if I’m not properly briefed, you’re wasting your money. 

Here are a few other elements it would be useful for me to know (or even for you to know, if you’re writing yourself):

The central message – i.e., the one thing readers need to know by the time they’ve finished reading your blog, your profile or your website copy.

An approximate word count – particularly for website copy!  Usually, copy will go hand-in-hand with images, so it’s important to understand how you want this to be structured.

Whom you’re trying to attract – how old is your ideal audience, what sort of language do they use and what are they interested in?  While your words will speak with the ideal tone for your business (something else I’ll need to understand!), if I know you’re trying to attract young professionals, or mums between 25 and 40, I’ll have an even better idea of how to pitch your copy.

Your business ‘style guide’ (see this post for more information) – do you prefer to say “have not” instead of “haven’t”, for example?  These points are important for building consistency in your communications, so that when people contact you (as they invariably will after they’ve read your amazing copy!) they will meet the person reflected in your communications.

If all this sounds daunting, don’t worry!  I can usually get to the bottom of everything needed in just a half-hour, coffee-soaked conversation.  I’ve also got plenty of handy one-page templates, so if you want to talk blogging, or profiles, or maybe some copy for your new website, the process will be quick and painless.

Interested? Then why not get in touch?