David Ogilvy, known as the Godfather of Advertising, famously wrote a letter describing his method of writing copy - and it’s an interesting place to start when trying to understand how to build a brief you need your copywriter to answer.
In the letter he says, “I write one definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve.”
It’s vital when writing your brief that you understand and communicate the problem you’d like your copywriter to solve - and if you follow the ‘Five Ws’ it can actually be easy and enjoyable.
The Five Ws
The Five Ws are Who, What, Why, Where and How (I realise How doesn’t start with a W, but there’s one on the end so let’s not be too picky)
Think about who you are trying to talk to and influence – consider your customer, perhaps, and if you were to meet them on the street, what would they be like. Describe them
What is it you’re trying to tell your customer and how will it benefit them? Whether it’s a product or a service, what problem does it solve? If it’s an offer or invitation, what will encourage them to accept?
Why should your customer pick your product, service? Why is what you’re offering special?
Where can your customer find your product - is it online, is it at an event, is it in a particular place? Where will you be collating their response to your copy? Are you collecting their data or watching a sales figure?
How are you going to communicate with your customer? Is it via direct mail, social media or a press release?
Spend time answering these questions and building a picture for your copywriter, looking at what you need them to do.
Structuring your brief
A helpful way to lay out your brief is:
Research to be considered
Structuring your brief this way and using the Five Ws will enable you to share with your copywriter all your thoughts behind the work you need them to do. The better they understand your expectations, the better the results will be.
Nothing Like Face-to-Face
If you’re still feeling flummoxed at the prospect of writing a brief, consider this other nugget of info from the Godfather of Advertising: “If you want ACTION, don’t write - go and tell the guy what you want.”
Sometimes, when you’re not 100% sure what you need your copywriter to do, but you know you need them to do something, it’s easier for both of you to sit down and write the brief together.
Don’t forget: your copywriter has tonnes of experience to share with you; asking them to help you structure the brief can be part of the process.
If you’d like help with a copywriting brief I’d be more than happy to take a look - just get in touch.