1. Choose a copywriter with relevant experience. You may think this is obvious, but many marketers and agencies ignore it and end up with a writer who has general, not specific experience. If your brief is for a specialised area – e.g. pharmaceuticals, high level financial services or b2b IT – find a copywriter with experience in that field. Ask to see samples of their work and a list of brands they’ve worked on.
2. Keep your brief simple, with a single-minded with proposition. Whether your brief is for a website, direct mail piece or advertising campaign, make sure everything leads to one simple sales message – the message you want your customers to remember more than all others.
3. Invite your copywriter to challenge your sales proposition. See my previous post about flawed briefs. Remember, copywriters are sales people who type. They need to believe in your brief if they are to sell effectively. If they don’t feel comfortable with your proposition or how you’re positioning your product, there might be something wrong with your brief. Ask them for their view; if they spot a problem, they can usually suggest a solution.
4. Have plenty of reference material ready. Make sure your copywriter has all the information about your product that they need – not later, but right when you first brief them. The information can be raw facts listed as bullet points in no particular order.
A good copywriter will ask you lots of questions about your product and your audience. They might need to speak to your sales people or go on a tour of your operations. Do everything you can to assist them. The more prepared you and your copywriter are, the smoother the project will go, and you’ll get better concepts and/or copy too.
5. Allow plenty of time. Freelance copywriters are used to working fast to sort out urgent problems. Even so, they work more effectively when given generous deadlines.
Suppose your project is a 15-page website. You’ll probably get a better result if you give your copywriter four weeks instead of just two. Why? Because they can, and do, come up with better headlines and harder-hitting copy when they can review their work week after week. Do the same if you need only concepts (headlines with visuals). Agree a project rate and, even if your copywriter says the job will take them two days, give them four or five. You’ll get better results for the same cost.
If you have any questions about briefing a freelance copywriter, email me or call me on +44 (0)7754 537 428.