Commissioning a copywriter to produce fresh, engaging copy for your website is a business investment. But to produce work that sells your business to both new and existing customers, it’s good to understand that all-important client/writer relationship and how to make it work for both of you.

A clear road map

Briefs are the lifeblood of any copywriter. A writer needs to know exactly what you want to achieve from your content, who it’s aimed at and what message you want to put across. They need to know things like what tone of voice you want, the words you like (and don’t like) to use and what style you need to write in.

For example, we recently did some work for a company that works with people with learning difficulties. That immediately creates a need to write in a way that is immediate, unambiguous and easily understood. The company wanted to get across a sense of empowerment in those they work with and so words that denoted a passive relationship – “we give you” and “we help you to” – were out. Instead we used phrases that created a sense of equality and empowerment – “we work with you” and “we enable you to”.

Gone too were the “old school” concepts of social care – the language we used needed to break down the barriers of “them and us” that existed in the old world of institutional care. We talked directly to service users (without using the phrase service user) and we introduced ideas of personalisation and development throughout.

It was challenging, but by having a clear set of guidelines we were able to write in a way that seems really effective. Time will tell – the copy has yet to be published and tested. Getting feedback from your readers is really the only way to see whether you’ve been successful or not.

So, what’s the best way to brief your copywriter?

Although good copywriters can produce outstanding results from a simple “Give me 500 words on (insert topic here)”, it can mean that the resulting copy, although good, solid work, doesn’t quite tick all the boxes you had in mind when you commissioned it.

That might be suitable when you’re developing SEO-focused landing pages, or articles for article marketing. However, when it comes to your mission critical, customer-facing content you will only achieve the best results if you:

a) provide detailed style guidelines that inform your copywriter how to best represent your brand throughout your written communications

b) give them appropriate time to familiarise themselves with you and your company and research the content they are writing,

c) allow time in the writing process for amendments

These guidelines are crucial to the effectiveness of your content that’s why successful brands invest in a brand story or content strategy before undertaking any work on their content.

Develop a relationship with your copywriter

A top-drawer copywriter is worth their weight in gold. With engaging, fresh and informative copy, links naturally gather around like bees around a honeypot. If you’re fortunate enough to find a good copywriter, nurture that relationship.

They can bring so much more to your business than a weekly blog, a monthly article or some new landing pages. They bring insight, experience and an expert understanding of the power of good copy that can really make a difference to your business.

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