There’s no such thing as the perfect brief.
Of course, your intention is always to provide a well-written and detailed breakdown of the project. And, in an ideal world, the writer will already have a good knowledge of your company’s brand, with an almost telepathic understanding of what’s required.
But real life isn’t like that. Documents are hastily pulled together between meetings, emails are sent without attachments, and video calls will always be awkward.
To get the most out of the briefing process – and get the best work out of your copywriter – you’ll need to master the briefing document and the briefing call.
Briefing documents – six questions to ask yourself
- How much background should I give?
Be careful not to drown your writer in details before you get to the subject at hand. Choose the most relevant information, and make sure you’ve covered the most important areas. As a minimum, the writer will need to know:
- Your product and the industry you work in
- Your company brand and the tone of voice used in previous communications
- What exactly am I asking for, and how many words do I want?
Often, an experienced B2B copywriter will be able to suggest how long your copy should be or whether the information would be better presented in a different format. But this can depend on your relationship, and a level of familiarity with your content that can take time to develop. Until then, be as specific as you’re able.
- What do I want the outcome to be?
Tell your writer what targets and requirements the project needs to meet, such as the SEO keywords to include, what KPIs you’re tracking, and whether this is part of a more extensive marketing campaign. Knowing how the content will be used – for instance, if it’ll be sent out by a sales rep or sit behind a landing page – will help the writer decide on the best approach to the copy.
- Who are our readers?
If the writer knows who the audience is, they can write copy that keeps the reader engaged. What kind of business are they in, and what job role? What problems keep them up at night? And, most importantly, what do they already know? If the content is pitched at the wrong level, it risks alienating your target audience.
- Why are we producing this content now?
In B2B technology copywriting, there are recurring themes such as how much time or money your product will save. But what is happening now that makes this copy relevant to the industry you’re targeting? Knowing the bigger picture is especially important for longer and more in-depth copy.
- What’s the call to action?
The writer needs to know where to direct readers for more information after they have read the content. They also need to understand how the piece will be promoted. For example, is it part of a series of blogs?
If you’re thinking, “Isn’t this a bit much?” the honest answer is that it might be. But if any information is missing from the briefing document, you leave the writer to decide what’s essential for the project.
To ensure nothing gets missed, there’s another part of the process: the briefing call.
Common briefing call challenges, and how to solve them
While the briefing document is all your own work, the briefing call puts the focus on the writer. It’s an opportunity for them to propose the best approach, ask questions, and confirm they’ve understood the brief.
Sounds simple, right? But like all things, obstacles will stand in your way. Here are three of the most common challenges, and a few tips for keeping things on track.
- Too many attendees
Nobody wants to be in meetings if they don’t have to. (Well, okay… maybe some people do.) The writer should be able to provide you with a list of questions upfront, so you only need to invite people who have to be there. If the writer has raised technical questions about the product, it can be helpful to have a subject matter expert present to answer them.
(Our team of copywriters allows us to double up on briefing calls when required – giving you input from another writer and us the opportunity to complete informed quality reviews. It also means we can be more reliable if a writer is sick or on holiday.)
- The focus of the call drifts
Every content project has a broader context and depends on other marketing projects in varying stages of completion – so it can be easy for the scope to drift. A good writer can steer the conversation and keep things focused.
You can help by keeping an eye out for overly deep technical discussions, side-tracks into internal politics, and other diversions that might take the meeting off the critical path.
- Technical issues
Briefing calls are important, and it’s worth taking the time to ensure everyone’s voice can be heard. If a technical issue can’t be solved in a few minutes, it’s often better to reschedule the call.
Put yourself in the writer’s shoes
There’s a delicate balance to maintain when briefing a writer for the first time. The documents you provide should be as full of relevant information as possible without being overwhelming.
Briefing calls are an essential step in the process, but you also need to keep an eye on attendees and agendas to ensure you (and your writer) get the most out of them.
Of course, the communication doesn’t stop there. (At Radix, our team of Account Managers will make sure it’s always seamless.) But with a great briefing document and a solid call, you’ll give your writer the best possible start – and likely get even better content as a result.