Tuesday 30th October 2018

How To Brief A Copywriting Agency

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We all want solid content that meets expectations and delivers on its objectives. Sometimes you can request a piece from your copywriting agency and it instantly hits the nail on the head. But in some cases, it can miss the mark. So what makes the difference?

Often the underlying factor is the brief. Outlining what you want may take a little time initially, but you make it back in the long run with remarkable results.

Here, we outline the key things you should include for a flawless brief.

Think about the objective

What are you trying to achieve by creating the copy? It’s a good idea at this stage to use the sales funnel as a guide, as general aims can be too broad. Do you want to boost your audience’s awareness of your business, pique their interest, help them reach a decision, or encourage them to take an action?

Let your copywriter know exactly what you want the audience to get out of the content, and they can craft it entirely around this purpose. You might also have an overall marketing plan that can assist – some of the copy you want to create may play a part in your long-term goals, and other content may have a role in your short-term aims.

Provide them with context

This step is more applicable if it’s your first time working with the content agency. Have you already sat down and established what your business does? If not, it may be unclear how they can link the content back to your offering. A succinct description will give them the context they need. With some pieces, you may need to tell them a bit more information to ensure the link is made between the topic and solution.

It may also be necessary to tell them the language the content needs to be written in, if they (or you) are an international business and it’s not immediately evident. Even though projects in the UK, US, and Australia use English, there are variations in spelling and meaning.

Identify your target audience

You’ll already have an idea of your audience, but the more in-depth this is, the more relevant the agency can make the content. Perhaps you have multiple audiences – consumers (B2C) as well as businesses (B2B). If you’ve already built marketing personas, this will greatly help when deciding the audience of each piece.

But if you haven’t thought about your market yet, then there are a number of factors you can consider. For B2B, think about the role, goals and frustrations of the person within the organisation you wish to appeal to. For B2C, a target audience profile can be built more on demographics, such as age, sex, socio-economic classifications (like occupation, education and income), media channels and interests.

It’s also worth thinking about the different levels of awareness that distinct groups will have. For example, a Chief Technical Officer reading an IT article has a very different level compared to a small business owner reading the exact same thing. This may affect the tone of voice, along with the information provided, so let the agency know and they can write the copy accordingly.

Know your tone of voice

Determining your audience will make it much easier to decide how you want to sound. Different readers will require a distinctive tone of voice each. Think about the following:

  • How formal do you want to present your business as?
  • Do you like to use colloquialisms or slang?
  • Are contractions or abbreviations part of your tone of voice?
  • How personal do you want to get when speaking to your audience – do you address them as ‘you’, and do you speak in the first person?

It may be that there are certain words you don’t like in your content. Communicate this to your agency. If you have existing brand guidelines, these can also help them understand your tone of voice.

Decide on the type of copy

It may sound like a given, but some do describe their required type of content as just that: ‘content’. In fact, there are a whole host of formats that you can choose from, and some may be more suited to your objectives than others. They include:

If you’re not certain which one is right for you, ask the agency for advice – good ones will have plenty of experience in them all. After you’ve decided, settle on a rough word or character count. For some forms of copy, such as that for social media or adverts, there may be a limit you simply cannot go beyond. With other pieces like blogs, you can provide the agency with a roundabout figure.

Provide previous examples

Samples of previous content that’s worked well for your business can make the world of difference. It gives the copywriting agency an instant insight into how you sound, as well as what your business does. With this at their fingertips, they will find it much easier to write content that clicks with you.

Copy that hasn’t worked can also be helpful, providing your agency with a clear understanding of what not to do, as well as some of your competitors’ content that you admire. You could also provide them with resources that might assist, such as useful links for research, as well as links to brands you aspire to align with.

Tick off the necessities of any project

Like any work with a supplier, you should make them aware of your expectations in terms of deadlines and the way the copywriting services are delivered. Allow some room for movement when setting your due date, to give yourself time for any edits. Think also about whether you would prefer the content to be submitted simply via email, or using a specific organisational system.

You may have additional requirements on top of the agency writing the copy – do you want them to upload it and source the imagery too? You may want to boost your SEO – do you have a list of keywords you’d like to rank for? Provide the details of the main point of contact in case any other questions should arise.

Key takeaways

Covering the areas on the following checklist will allow you to provide a brief that’s certain to produce fantastic content:

  • Purpose of the content and its role in any objectives
  • Description of what your business does
  • Target audience(s) and their profile information
  • Your brand’s tone of voice and any guidelines
  • Copy format and any word or character limits
  • Previous examples of good/bad copy and any other useful resources
  • Requirements for delivering the content to you

If putting together a brief isn’t your speciality, then we’re always more than happy to help. At Making You Content, we can firm up a brief to ensure the copy is exactly as you’d envisaged it.

We also create brand guidelines that we develop over time, so that briefing is made simpler. With some clients, we work on a strategic level by mapping out a content marketing plan in our bespoke brand workshops, eliminating the need to brief altogether.

To find out how we guarantee that briefing won’t be a burden on your business, get in touch with us today on 0161 660 9206 or send an email to [email protected].