Writing a Brief for Your Copywriter: A (Hopefully) Handy Guide

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

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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)

Who

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

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

Why should your customer pick your product, service? Why is what you’re offering special?

Where

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?

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How

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:

Aim

Objective

Method

Anticipated response/result

Research to be considered

Timescales

Budget

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

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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.

 

5 Quick Ways To Improve Your Website Today

Websites are vital to business, but we all know how time-consuming their upkeep can be.

That’s why I’ve come up with five things you can do today to improve your website. Not tomorrow at 9am; today. Even if it’s 3pm now. You can achieve these small tasks.

Consider this a collection of easy wins. Let’s get to it.

  1. Check Your Contact Page

Can your customers reach you if they want to?

You’d be surprised.

Take a look through your contage page and see if all the information is correct and visible. Here’s a checklist for you:

●      Is the phone number right?

●      Can you highlight the phone number on mobile so someone can easily pick up the phone and call you?

●      Is the email address right?

●      Can the email address be clicked on or tapped to send a message immediately?

●      Does the contact form go anywhere?

●      Is your address and postcode visible?

●      If you have a map here, is it working?

Some of these might be issues for IT to deal with, but at least you know now that your customers can contact you without any trouble – or they will be able to soon.

2. Plan Some Blog Posts

You might not have time to write them today, but you can definitely come up with five blog post ideas for your website’s blog.

Blog posts are one of the best ways to improve and update your website’s content and bring new visitors to your website. Taking fifteen minutes to research some compelling blog post titles and then planning out some time to complete and upload them will improve your website by 100%.

Stuck? Try this blog post generator by Hubspot.

3. Update Your Imagery

You’re bound to have some images on your website that are out of date. Times change, things move on and inevitably, websites get a little tired.

Take a look at some of the stock imagery on your website’s main pages and think about photography you could replace it with instead.

Your customers and website visitors find original photography much more engaging than obvious stock photos, but don’t worry. If you have no photos and can’t organise a photoshoot (or take a few new ones yourself), stock imagery can work as long as:

●      It looks natural

●      It works in context

●      It matches the tone and feel of your website.

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4. Check Your Links

Are your pages full of hyperlinks?

Well, they should be.

Google loves links that aid the reader to research more, and using links in context is a great way to boost your Google ranking.

However, broken links bring your site right back down again and not only that, they frustrate your visitors too.

Click through your links to make sure they aren’t leading to dead ends, and replace any that do.

5. Check Your Comments

Bots love to leave nonsense comments on blog posts. It’s just robot nature.

While there are very good, very useful spam detectors available for website developers to install, some comments just slip through the net and onto your website.

Take a few minutes to scan through your comment sections (doing this via the back end will be the easiest way) and nip off any of those weird, nonsensical comments that make your site feel a little overgrown and unloved.

I really hope these tips help motivate you to get improving your website. If you think you need a little more help, or would like to talk to me about the website content support I can offer you and your business, let’s chat.

Until next time…

How to Improve Your Customers' Experience with Great Web Content

When you’re creating web content, the golden rules you read from experts all over the Internet can become overwhelming. Add to that the ever-evolving trends and changing SEO practices you need to keep up with - and before long it can all seem a little out of your control.

I always say that the most important point to remember when you’re writing anything for the web is that you’re creating it for a customer. So, when you’re writing your content, think about how it can genuinely improve your customers’ experience of your website.

Not sure where to start? Here are my tips on improving your website’s customer experience.

Write for Humans

Your customers and website visitors are humans. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to begin to distance yourself from your audience, especially if you’re elbow deep in SEO keywords and product descriptions. Take a good look at the content you’ve created and ask yourself one thing: ‘does this sound natural?’

Of course you’ll need to take your own company’s branding into account, and what’s natural for one business might seem unusual or awkward for another.

Make it easy for yourself and put your metaphorical feet inside your customers’ shoes. Take a little browse around your site. Are there any pages that seem off to you? Could your writing use a little less jargon? Make a list and use this to inform how you amend your content.

Be Positive

You might not have noticed at first glance but you may be talking your business down. You need active calls to action in your web content in order for it to be truly functional, but increasingly savvy consumers are getting wise to this, and they don’t like it.

The best reaction to this is not to force it. Don’t try sneaking your ‘Buy it now’ links into text - and instead be upfront. Offer help, support and a friendly team member’s undivided attention to your customers  in return for a quick chat about their needs. It sounds much more positive than a fake offer or a ‘time’s running out’ deal.

Aim to make your customers happy and you’ll be glad you did.

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Offer Something Unique

Your customers are looking for value - and this is called ‘value propositioning’. They’ll understand what your company does quickly, and they’ll even grasp the basics of your products within a few minutes.

What you need to show them is why your business can offer something nobody else can.

  • How can you pique their interest?

  • How can you delight them?

  • How can you fix a problem they didn’t even realise they had?

  • What can you do that goes above and beyond?

  • Why should they subscribe to your blog?

Don’t just list your team members. Talk about who they are, why they’re great, what they can do for your customers. Use your web content to create a connection, and you’ll stand out far above the crowd.

Use More Straightforward Language

Just because you use acronyms within your office all the time doesn’t mean your customers will understand what they mean. Even if your industry-specific products come with long-winded, technical descriptions as standard, break them down so that anyone could understand their benefits and appreciate their usefulness. Think of it this way:

  • A parent could be buying this for their tech-savvy child

  • A newcomer to the industry could be looking for equipment they need

  • Acronyms could vary between countries and within industries.

Jargon can easily be misunderstood and can present a barrier through which your customers are unlikely to try and break. As long as you use the wording expected of your business and industry, speaking simply and in straightforward language will only make you seem more professional, not less.

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If you’d like to find out more about how to create great web content, or you’d like to chat about how I could support you with yours, contact me today. I’d love to help.

Until next time…

Why You Should Hire a Copywriter in 2019

If you’ve been hesitant to hire a copywriter, I can sympathise. Making the decision to outsource your web content, social media posts or ads can seem like a daunting process. After all, your company is your pride and joy - and handing over the creative reins to an outsider involves a lot of trust.

You needn’t worry. Professional copywriters are experts, and we exist to help you. If you need a simple press release writing, that’s what we can do. If you need a full website’s worth of content creating, you can count on us to deliver exactly what your brief describes.

A relationship between a copywriter and our individual clients is all about communication. We trust you to give us all the information and support we need to create exceptional content – and in return, you can trust us to work hard to deliver content you need that goes above and beyond your expectations.

Here are some more compelling reasons why you should hire a copywriter in 2019, and why I think the job I do can help out businesses of all kinds all over the world.

A copywriter knows exactly what you need - even if you don’t.

You might be unhappy with your web content and need an overhaul. You might be working on a brand new website for a startup. You might have heard about Instagram ads and want to get involved.

You might know this, but you don’t know what next steps to take.

This is what we copywriters do. We can talk through your options, and together we can work out the best possible plan of action. Then we get to work. Simple as that!

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Copywriters only do what you ask us to do.

If you’re afraid that hiring a freelance copywriter will somehow start a chain of events that leads to you paying for content and fees you didn’t want to pay, don’t be.

Good copywriters can send a clear contract to you for every job you ask us to complete. If we think more work needs to be done – for example, keyword research or a spot of competitor analysis – we’ll flag this, but ultimately it’s your call.

If a copywriter is charging you more than you can afford, it only takes a conversation to rectify the situation. After all, we work for you, not the other way around.

Freelance copywriters have experience - and lots of it

Believe it or not, most freelancers don’t have one, specific niche. This is a good thing. It enables us to flex our mental muscles, turning copy into well-rounded, well-informed information.

We might know everything there is to know about your particular industry, but in the background we might also be experts in retail management, extreme sports and professional cleaning services. They don’t feel connected, but a wide spectrum of reference points helps our writing feel less robotic - and that’s what you want.

A copywriter understands how important your content is

If your team doesn’t have time to give your content the precision and care it needs, your business could suffer for it.

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A copywriter understands how vital your content is, and will work hard to ensure it is perfect before sending it back to you for your comments. We are also great at making amends, sometimes several times, so that the content you want is the content you get. We understand. It’s important to you, so it’s important to us.

A copywriter gives you space to achieve

 Whenever I speak to potential clients, I want to make sure that they are making the right choice for their business. I also want to convey that by handing over this work to a professional copywriter, they will be freeing up headspace, time and resources. It makes a huge difference to be able to pass work over.

The most common comment I receive from my clients is that I’ve given them time to think, and to work on important projects that in turn have helped their business to grow.

In that sense, copywriters offer two things in one: a chance to turn your mind to more important matters, and the truly essential resource of a professional who can write content that takes your business higher.

If you’d like to chat about how we could work together this year, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Copywriting for Your Website: Some Dos and Don’ts

Your business’s website is like a shop window: there will be plenty of passers-by, but if the items on display are falling apart, or look to be poor in quality, no one will want to buy anything.

Of course, you’ll want to prevent that from happening in the first place – and this means producing stellar website content.

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Read on for some dos and don’ts for creating copy that will turn visitors into loyal clients (fingers crossed!).

DO: Show What You Can Give or Take Away

Good copy tailors to the client’s needs. Sometimes, website visitors aren’t interested at all in your services, but most of the time, people click onto or around your website because they want to know how you can help them.

Show clients what you can give them. Do they need virtual assistance for their business? A new logo? A redesigned landing page? Tell them you can deliver - and turn their frown upside down!

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On the flip side, show clients what you can take away from them. Do they want to get rid of the headache of updating their own blog? Of writing their own emails? Let them know you’re the man (or woman!) for the job.

DON’T: Rely Solely on Testimonials

In particular, DON’T include only testimonials that have customers showering you with praise. You certainly will receive testimonials that read along the lines of ‘I love this so much!!!’ but these kinds of testimonials will do little to sell your services to potential clients.

Yes, your business is amazing, but HOW? If you want to include testimonials on your website, use those that, as Joanna Wiebe puts it in this Copy Hackers article, “tell a story of what a customer’s challenge was before your product or service…and what the outcome of using your product or service was.”

DO: Make Yourself Clear

As a general rule of thumb, keep paragraphs short. That being said, there’s such a thing as being too short. Often this stems from the desire to avoid exceeding a word limit, or to create short and powerful phrases, which can lead you to whittle sentences down until they’re dry and boring. You’re then left with bland copy that could be recycled on hundreds of other websites.

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Making yourself clear also includes double-checking your spelling and grammar. You could have the best-written landing page in the UK, but you could ruin all that with the wrong use of ‘their/there/they’re.’

DON’T: Talk About Yourself

Okay, obviously you SHOULD talk about yourself, but your website isn’t just for you to list every single thing you can do. You have to show what you have to offer to potential clients who may be scrolling through your site.

Shift from overusing ‘I’ and ‘we’ in favour of ‘you.’ This Quicksprout guide shows you how you can make your content more customer-focused (with some extra website copywriting tips as well).

DO: Hire a Copywriter

Hiring a website content writer seems an obvious option to improve your website, but many turn their noses at the idea. Many will deem it too expensive, while some will have a go at writing their own content.

Yes, you can certainly write your own website content, but can you be absolutely sure it will reflect your business in the way you want?

(And if you’re still not sure about hiring a website content writer, may I direct you to some of my success stories?)

Do you have any other tips for creating brilliant website content? Let me know in the comments below.

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