Here’s a scenario:

You hire a copywriter because you need professional writing. You’re either no good at writing or too busy to get your website, blog or content written.

What’s the first thing the new copywriter asks you to do?

Write a copywriting brief!

Mental.

I don’t get that. Clients hire me to write. So why start with making them do a barrel of writing?

I’ve tried this approach, with mixed results. Clients don’t love the process.

My new solution

Now I simply chat with my clients, picking their brain about their business and what challenges, frustrates and inspires them. The process of the conversation brings out much more natural, better answers than written responses.

My questions are tricky. Many clients have not spent much time thinking about their USP – Unique Selling Point. I ask the big questions – why are you in business? What makes people buy from you? Why don’t they choose you? What’s the biggest challenge in your business?

The process is quite personal at times for clients who put their heart and soul into their business. It’s sometimes part briefing session, part counseling session.

Their answers are gold. Having tried both written and verbal briefs, I find this process vastly superior.

(Except for one client who gave me monosyllabic replies to every question, she would’ve preferred to fold a king size fitted sheet than have that conversation.)

What I’ve learned in these conversations is these business owners really care so much about their business and their customers.  From the lawyer who wants to make the divorce process easier for clients to the amazing vet who helps farmers improve their livestock management, I’ve been privileged to work with amazing clients.

Of course, not working from a brief is dangerous. It’s one of the many dumb things I did when I first started freelance copywriting.

What I do now is take that conversation, and write it up into a proper brief. That way there is still a brief, the client hasn’t had the painful process of getting their thoughts into place. I spend a bit of extra time on each project writing the brief, sure, but this process works best for me and my clients.

So small business owners, if you appoint a copywriter and they start with getting you to fill out a briefing document why not respectfully ask them to write it for you? It works for me.