“What will you need from me?”
This is the question most clients tentatively ask me when we first start working together.
If you’ve never worked with a copywriter before, and it’s all new to you, this part may be daunting. But your input and support is vital to the success of your project.
To help you prepare and get your thoughts in order, I’ve created this guide that explains exactly what your copywriter will need from you. And not just in terms of information, but in terms of a smooth and successful working partnership.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
What to give your copywriter
A dedicated contact person
If a copywriter has several points of contact, the project can get complicated. We can end up with conflicting instructions and with different people wanting different things from us.
Having a single point of contact to liaise with will make life easier for your copywriter. It will help to ensure continuity and a smooth simple process.
Examples of existing communications
If you have any examples of copywriting that’s been done for your business, it can help your new copywriter get a better understanding of your brand and tone of voice.
Your existing communications might include things like:
- Marketing materials
- Sales literature
- Email marketing.
Be sure to tell your copywriter what you like and don’t like about your existing communications. And, more importantly, what has and hasn’t worked for you.
When we’re starting a project, one of the first things your copywriter will do is ask you for information. This will usually be in the form of a copywriting brief that we’ll ask you to complete.
The more information you can give, the better your results are likely to be.
My standard copywriting brief is made up of several sections and will ask you about your:
- Unique Selling Points (USPs)
- Tone of Voice (ToV)
For your copywriter, the copywriting brief is just a starting point. We’ll take away the information you’ve given and use it to research further, building a clear picture of your business, your audience and your market.
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.
This section deals with who you are and what you do.
Who are you?
Are you a freelancer, an entrepreneur, a partnership, family business or corporate enterprise?
What’s your story? Where did you come from? When and why did you start your business? Why do you do what you do — what’s your motivation?
These days, people take more of an interest in the companies they’re dealing with and what those companies stand for.
What exactly do you do?
Your copywriter should be able to summarise what you do in a couple of plain English sentences that anyone can understand. We like to be specific and to avoid vague words, like ‘solutions’, because they don’t always help!
What are your brand values?
What does your brand care about and where are you committed to making a difference?
Your brand values are a key differentiator for your business and can help you connect with your ideal clients. They should be authentic, genuine and true to your business.
Telling your audience your brand values by putting them in a list is one way to communicate them. But a good copywriter will demonstrate them more powerfully by incorporating them into your copy.
What is your brand vision
Your brand vision is your vision for the future and the ultimate goal for your business.
What’s the main change you want your brand to make and be known for?
And what steps are you taking to turn your vision into a reality?
This section concerns what you’re selling, whether that’s physical products or services.
Your copywriter will need details of your different products and services, how each one benefits your customers or solves their problems, and which particular customers it’s intended for.
Your Unique Selling Points are the things that make your business different to your competitors.
Depending on your business, you could have one USP or several.
You should look at what makes you different to your competitors rather than what makes you better. Better can be copied or superseded. Different is unique to your business.
Your Tone of Voice is about how you want your business copy to sound and how you want to come across to your audience.
For example, you might want to sound:
- Assertive and authoritative
- Casual and chatty
- Cool and hip
- Friendly and fun
- Quirky and full of character.
You can give us words like these to describe the tone you’re looking for, provide existing copy examples for us to work from or point us in the direction of copy you like from other companies.
The way you sound can influence the way your audience feels about your brand, so you need to think about this carefully. You can always talk to your copywriter if you’re not sure.
Your audience is who your copy will be talking to. And this is the most important bit.
Depending on the project, it could be cold/warm leads, prospects you want to sell to or existing customers.
And depending on the project, we’ll need to know things like:
- Their age and gender
- Where they’re based geographically
- What their culture is
- Their job/status
- Their interests, passions, dreams and desires
- What their problems are
- What motivates them
- How you want them to feel.
Again, the more information you can give, the better.
This section is about the main businesses you’re competing with in your space.
My clients have had mixed reactions to these questions. Most have been happy to answer them, but some have been more cautious.
Some seem to think we ask for this information because we want to copy their competitors or follow their example. But, actually, the opposite is true. We need to research your competitors so we can differentiate your business and give you a more competitive edge.
And some think they don’t have any competitors, but this is never true. There’s always an alternative to what you’re offering, even if it’s not the same.
I normally ask for the links to your competitors’ websites, so I can have a look at what they’re doing and, if relevant, what keywords they’re ranking for.
In the majority of cases, I’ll already know what I’m doing for my clients before I send my brief.
But if you haven’t told me yet, now’s your chance.
Access to your website data
If your copywriter is rewriting your website or blog articles, they should ask for access to your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data.
Most web developers will set these up when they build your site.
Having access to this data is important. It means your copywriter won’t disturb anything you’re currently ranking for — and that you want to keep ranking for.
If you’re thinking of working with a copywriter for a website rewrite, check that you have Google Analytics and Google Search Console attached to your site and that they’re collecting data.
If not, get them set up and give them 2-3 months to collect some useful data we can work with.
Collaboration and communication
Working with a copywriter should be a collaborative process.
You’re the expert in your business, your copywriter is the expert in communications — and we need to work together to get the best results.
This means you need to be available and ready to contribute, if needed.
For example, we might need you to:
- Answer questions that arise
- Provide explanation or clarification
- Supply further information
- Give feedback or direction.
If your copywriter is to produce the best possible copy and deliver it on schedule, they will need you to be communicative. This means responding to queries promptly and fully so as not to hold things up.
Collaboration and communication may also extend to other people working on your project, such as designers, developers and SEOs.
Time and patience
Effective copy doesn’t just happen overnight, it takes time to do it properly.
We need time to:
- Do our research
To understand your industry, your market, your competitors and your customers
- Generate ideas
Great ideas don’t just appear — we have to absorb all the research data and give them time to brew
- Create a compelling sales message
Your copy needs a message that speaks to your audience in their language and that clearly communicates the benefits of what you’re offering
- Edit and refine our work
Our first draft is never the first draft you see — it’s always thoroughly edited and proofread before it reaches you.
If you’re asking a copywriter to produce a piece of copy at lightning speed, they won’t have time to complete all these stages and your copy will be less effective as a result.
Submitting a draft to a client is always a nerve-wracking time for a copywriter. We want you to like the copy, but we also need you to understand what we’re trying to achieve with it.
The most important thing to remember is that your copy hasn’t been written for you. It’s been written to meet the needs of your audience. And if there’s SEO involved, it will also have been optimised for Google.
The most helpful feedback for your copywriter is:
- Consolidated and in agreement.
For more information, read my full article: How to give your copywriter constructive feedback >>
Do you need a copywriter?
If you need a creative copywriter or SEO content writer for your project, maybe I can help.
I have 12 years’ conceptual copywriting experience, and have been writing optimised websites and blog content for more than a decade.