How to brief good financial content


Briefing content

When it comes to financial content, the most important thing to remember is that great content begins with a great brief

What you brief is what you get, it really is as simple as that. A great brief is the difference between great financial content and copy that fails to hit the mark.

Here are some tips to get your briefing right first time.

Why is a content brief so important?

A great brief gives copywriters the confidence that they’re approaching the topic in the right way and so they produce financial content that everyone is happy with – to the word count and deadlines required.

Conversely, a terrible brief produces terrible financial content that can set off a chain of misery that results in a bewildered copywriter, a dissatisfied client, and multiple, frustrating attempts to get it right.

Although you get there in the end (you hope), does it really have to be this hard?

Well, no, actually, it doesn’t.

So here are Love Letters’ tips for giving a good briefing to ensure that the financial content you commission hits the mark first time, every time.

Make time at the start of a project to brief content and timings

We are all busy, but it is better to schedule in a solid briefing for a project at the beginning rather than find out that it needs a new approach and rewriting – just when deadlines for other projects are looming.

Meet up to discuss it

Some sort of meeting that includes everyone involved is important to kick off your project. These days it’s usually a conference call or Skype call but having a conversation is crucial for successful briefing, not least because it presents an opportunity to ask questions.

Give everyone the same written content brief

Don’t make people rely on the notes they took during the meeting or call because these are recipes for misunderstandings.

Write the content brief yourself, and you’ll find you focus on exactly what you want the copy to achieve. Even written briefs can be too vague, however.

That’s why many copywriters have briefing forms that prompt you to state the information they need so that they can craft excellent financial content for you. These are real timesavers, and help make sure you’ve covered all the important points.

Make the content brief comprehensive

Your brief should include details such as the name of the company and project manager, content delivery format, deadlines and budget. For a copywriter, the most important pieces of content information are:

Audience – Who is the content for? Financial advisers? Auditors? Software developers?
Destination – Where will the content be published? In a brochure? On the company website? In a LinkedIn blog?
Key messages – What information does the client want to convey through this piece? An improved product? An important piece of government information?
Reaction – What does the client want readers to think, feel or do? Subscribe to a service? Visit a website? Make a claim?
Call to action (CTA) – The CTA is usually a direct invitation to do something, often with a link directly to it.
Keywords – These should appear in your digital content and be terms that people would search for.
Deadline – When does the copy have to be submitted by? And why? For example, is it for a brochure that needs to be ready in time for a product launch?

Give your copywriter context

In copywriting, if content is king, then context is queen. Where is the copy going to sit within a larger framework?

For example, for a series of pieces about mortgages for a building society, all the copywriter needs to know is the name of the magazine or website, that there’s a property section about buying your first home, and that their article will sit there.

Links are useful to get a feel for the company, but the copywriter doesn’t need to know too much detail about other aspects of building society business.

Supply source material and style guidelines

Company branding, tone of voice, and house style guides are important, so supply these with the content briefing document.

Don’t send these ‘later’ because it may waste time (time you could be paying for) by holding up the project and compressing the deadline, or causing the copywriter to start their own research, which could be in the wrong direction.

Share source material, but be selective – keep it strictly relevant to the content.

Give everyone time to digest the brief

A bit of time to ruminate on the brief is helpful to get creative ideas flowing, so schedule in a call to answer questions when everyone has had time to do this. It is important that the content objective is crystal clear to avoid misunderstandings.

Turn a sample into a ‘best practice’ example

If you are working with a new copywriting team, treat the first article as a sample piece.

Doing this highlights strengths and weaknesses in the original brief, which can be revisited if necessary. This dry run is also an opportunity to test how effective the sign-off process is and an opportunity to give feedback on the copywriter’s approach to the content and style.

When everyone has approved the sample piece, it can become your best practice example for others.

Put together a commissioning pack

A ‘commissioning pack’ makes the briefing process more efficient for your copywriters. This should include:

• Brand, tone of voice and style guides;
• Source material;
• A written brief template;
• The best practice example; and
• Contract, fee information and deadline.
Good briefing is something that is close to our hearts here at Love Letters. What are your top tips for briefing copywriters (or anyone else for that matter)? We would love to hear them!

If you would like to find out more about the copywriting services offered by Love Letters, please get in touch.

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