One of the first questions designers tend to ask about partnering with a writer is “what information does my writer need?”
While there are probably as many answers to this question as there are copywriters, there are certain fundamental basics most of us would probably agree on. To me, there are two that are absolutely essential:
1. Who are we writing to?
Before your writer goes anywhere near a keyboard, he or she needs to know something about your audience. You can make this job easy by defining your readers as narrowly as possible.
One way to do this is to use demographics, or statistics relating to a specific segment of people. For example, you might say: “We’re trying to reach single women age 25-35 who have a college degree and an annual income of $50,000 or more.”
Another useful tool is psychographics, which slices up market segments based on interests, attitudes, values, or behavior. An example of this might be: “We want to attract a diverse mix of young influencers who enjoy urban living and the arts to our new apartments in the theater district.”
Many creative briefs combine both of these strategies, along with other details that help the writer shape the voice and tone of your message. Even things that don’t directly relate to your product or service can be helpful. What kind of music does your target audience prefer? What websites do they visit? What concerns keep them awake at night? What goals and aspirations do they have? The more the writer knows, the better.
Above all, resist the urge to say “we want to reach anyone we can.” The more specific you can be about your audience, the more focused and effective your writer’s message can be. I try to narrow the audience down to one to three representative profile individuals whenever possible.
2. What do we want them to do?
Every piece of marketing copy you ask your writer to prepare should have a single outcome in mind. Do you want the reader to make a purchase? Visit a website for more information? Call for a free consultation? Sign up for an event? Subscribe to your e-newsletter to get a free report?
Whatever it is, tell the writer up front. This gives the writer the information he or she needs to craft the “call to action” that drives the reader toward the end result you ultimately want.
Is that all?
These two items on their own don’t make a good creative brief. There’s plenty of other information your writer should have, such as the elements of your brand’s character, what type of copy has succeeded or failed for you in the past, what market factors are influencing your business, what the competition is doing, and much more. But without these two critical basics, the copy you get will essentially be a creative writing exercise that’s only as good as your writer’s best guess.
Don’t worry about giving your writer too much information. After all, sorting out what’s relevant to the outcome you want from details that are less likely to influence your readers is part of your writer’s job. It’s far better for the writer to have to do some research and consolidation than for him or her to make assumptions, especially if you already know the answers the writer is looking for. The last thing you want to do is say “oh, you should probably see this other information we have” after you get the first draft.