How to brief your copywriter: your guide to speaking the same language

by | Dec 6, 2023 | Uncategorized

So, you’ve got something to say. A story to tell. A message to convey. A button you want to be clicked. But the words? They just aren’t there. Sounds like you need a copywriter… but you probably already knew that.

There’s a lot that a copywriter can do for your business or brand, but to get the very best out of them, you need to be on the same page — speaking the same language. And if you already can’t find the words, then explaining what you need to someone else clearly already has its challenges.

So, let’s break it down together.

Let me guide you through the art of briefing your copywriter so that you both can get the absolute best out of working together.

1. The art of knowing what you want to say

Before diving into the briefing process, take a moment to reflect on your message. Why are we here? Jesus, that’s a little existential right off the bat.

But context is everything. Knowing what you want to say, where you want to say it and why you’re bothering at all sounds draining and far too ‘big picture’. I know. Trust me, though, you want every piece of copy attached to your brand to fit back into the big picture. Otherwise, we’re missing the point and likely, so will your clients and customers. Knowing your objectives sets the stage for a clear and impactful brief.

2. Understanding your brand’s DNA

Sure, I’m a copywriter. So, yes, the words matter to me. But Pendle to Paper isn’t just about words; it’s about your brand’s essence. That very essence can change every single word in a sentence. It’s what changes ‘strive for’ to ‘hunt for’ or ‘seek’ to ‘find’. Some say those words are interchangeable, but with specific brand direction, one would be so very right, and the other couldn’t be more wrong.

Share the nuances that make your brand unique. We want the dirty details. From your values to your personality, the more I know, the better I can weave your story into every sentence.

3. The importance of tone and style

Hopefully, you’ve noticed my brand is fun, personable, and a tad dry. Do you want your copy to mirror this tone, or do you lean towards something more professional? Something deeply informative? How about warm and friendly?

You can absolutely lean towards something different; in fact, I’d really rather you didn’t sound like me. I want you to sound like YOU… but can you explain what that sounds like?

Exploring the right tone ensures your brand voice is consistent, even if the way in which we convey the message is different across various platforms.

If you’re struggling to find the right words to describe yourself, can you find examples of the ways other brands speak that you really like? They don’t have to be in the same industry! Compiling a list of these should really help.

 

ID: robot hands playing a piano with a blue background

4. Identifying your target audience

Who are you speaking to? Spoiler alert: EVERYONE is not the right answer.

There are two answers to this question. There is who is ACTUALLY buying from you, backed up by time, data and experience. And there is who you would like your ideal customer to be. Who of these two you are speaking to could vastly change the copy we use to engage them.

This can be as broad as gender, age and location, but I’d prefer you get granular. What other brands do they like? Where are they shopping? Are they vegans?

Yes, I am serious. Some people like to create a ‘persona’ or a character that fits the idea of their ideal customer. While that’s not my own style, it can really help if you’re struggling to answer these questions. Persona 1: her name is Paris, and she lives in LA with her tiny dog. She buys high-end designer clothes and only wears outfits once. See where I’m going with this?

5. Setting clear goals

What do you want your copy to achieve? Whether it’s driving sales, building brand awareness, or simply entertaining, defining your goals helps in creating content that aligns with your overarching strategy. This is called a CTA or a call to action. It’s what you want your customers to do after they’ve read your copy. 

Each piece of copy can have a different goal, but you should already know what that is before we begin. Unlike many popular novels, we don’t just start writing and hope the end result presents itself along the way.

Sometimes, we’ll use the CTA subliminally throughout the copy to prime your customers for action at the end. At other times, we’ll just come right out and say, ‘Hey, please sign up to our mailing list’ or ‘Click this offer’.

While we’re at it, please sign up to my mailing list. Promise not to spam you.

6. The magic of keywords

In the vast realm of the internet, keywords are your guiding stars. It’s what gets messed up in that whole SEO world that you’ve likely heard about but find a little overwhelming. What you need to know is that, particularly for online copy, these are the words that make Google like you. What words are people searching for in relation to your niche?


For instance, “Copywriter Adelaide” might be your beacon. Whilst keywords are not a silver bullet for SEO, they are one of your main building blocks. So let’s build with the intention of growing and discuss the keywords that will amplify your online presence.

7. The brief brief: keeping it clear and concise

The key to an effective brief is clarity. In a nutshell, what’s your message? What are the key points you want to highlight? What do you want the customer to do next?

A concise brief is the roadmap to copywriting success.

8. Realistic timelines: the unsung heroes

Good things take time, and great copy is no exception. Establish realistic timelines and leave time for revisions. Rushed writing rarely does justice to the art of storytelling. Hot tip: Often, the fewer words you’re looking for, the more time you need.

ID: hands work on a mac keyboard with a pink mouse pad. Green desk plant in the foreground.

9. Collaboration: communication is always key

Working with a copywriter is a collaboration. We are, by nature, pretty good at reading people and interpreting scenarios. However, hoping we can read your mind will almost definitely end up with average results.

Share your thoughts, provide feedback, and let’s create a masterpiece together. Feedback is the compass guiding us to perfection. Don’t hold back—whether it’s a thumbs up or a gentle redirection, your insights shape the final narrative. When it comes to feedback, be clear and honest. I don’t simply mean ‘I don’t like it’, which, sure, is a valid thought. But can you explore why you don’t like it?

What emotion do you think it’s conveying that was not your intention? Are their words used that you don’t feel fit your brand voice? Is it inaccurate to the facts, and how can you educate your copywriter better?

The more transparent the communication, the better the outcome. We don’t always get it right on the first try (though I have a decent strike rate with this *insert smug face emoji*), but with some open conversations, we can usually get to something perfect by round two or three. 

10. The power of examples

Examples are like gold to creative workers. We love being able to see what you like and what you don’t reflected in the work of others. What really helps is if you can explain why you feel this way about the copy.

Visual aids, previous work, or even a mood board can speak volumes and guide the creative process.

11. Trust the process: from brief to brilliance

Once the brief is set, trust in the process. Given great communication, we will get there with something you love.

Pendle to Paper is here to transform your ideas into a narrative that says everything you need to say, sometimes without actually saying it at all!

Ready to craft your copy? Let’s talk!

Fill out the form on pendletopaper.com.au, and let’s get the journey from brief to brilliance on the roll. Together, we’ll find the words.